Monday, November 24, 2008

Women Martyrs

So I'm really not sure how my lesson went on Sunday. I did offer a caveat that the only classes I'd ever taught in my almost-nine years in the church was the Sunbeams...still. I'm not sure.

The fact that I didn't remember it until Thursday and realized Saturday I'd lost the paper I'd written the assigned General Conference talks didn't help either.

I need more time to organize myself. I really don't have a problem giving talks in church - I revel in the opportunity to give a talk like I enjoy hearing. It's different. I've never ever tried to be weird or anything, but I base my talks off my own life. I never recycle old, tired stories and rarely use stories from the Scriptures unless it's to support or set up a real life story I have.

I've only given a handful of talks, and all but one have been well-received. I still wince when I think of the talk I gave on tithing that one time...My soapbox was rather high that Sunday. I try to never get on soapboxes for talks.

I might've gotten on a bit of a soapbox for my lesson on Sunday. Most of it was just my being unprepared for the day. I tried to think of it like a talk, but even then I was screwed. I wasn't prepared enough.

It worked, though. I had some sincere girls come tell me they enjoyed the lesson.

You should've heard the crickets when I told them they needed to consider themselves every now and again, though. That they need to think about themselves, because if they saturate their schedules with service, service, service, they risk wearing themselves thin. My basic point was that if we don't simplify and prioritize, we'll end up sacrificing the most important things with the added stress. We can't think we don't matter, because we do.


Why don't we think we matter? It's ridiculous. I understand that we're supposed to serve God, others, and then ourselves, but come on!

We scrapbook, make cards, cookies, etc. I'd be interested to know how many of us actually enjoy these activities. There's a woman who I used to consider my "church mom" who told me the Church goes through little cultural phases of what is considered a "must" activity. It used to be crocheting, and other things that're evading me now.

Today it's scrapbooking. We feel we must do this. WHY? I thought for years I should scrapbook. It made sense, after all. All those pictures sitting in a box; may as well do something pretty with them, right?

It took me about five years to realize three things:

1) I didn't want to scrapbook.
2) I wouldn't like scrapbooking.
3) I didn't have to scrapbook.

It was a true revelation. I'd been freed (and so had my wallet. that stuff ain't cheap!)

Same goes for the card making. I'll go buy one. I often look for the funniest cards, anyway. I don't really care about aesthetics.

Anyway, back to the point. We *kill* ourselves in competitions to see who's the most churchy, and a lot of the time this means we have an immaculate house, immaculate kids, trendy hobbies, and happy husbands.

Then we put on a fake smile, go to church, and pretend it's all good.

I like to play sports. I write. I do a lot of things on the computer. While I can bake damn good chocolate chip cookies, I don't necessarily enjoy cooking. I read books - books that aren't Church based or written by Church members. Scriptures don't often solve my problems. I love my husband more than life itself. I love my kids, but they drive me absolutely insane most days. They've also done so much for me.

You'd be surpr--well, maybe some of you would be surprised to see the looks on my fellow mom's faces when I tell them just how often I need time alone. I may be a special case - it wouldn't surprise me, but I do need a break. For the entire duration of our marriage, Eric has worked and gone to school full time, leaving me a sometimes-single mom. I'm not wired to do this with grace, and I hate that so many other women think they have to be June Cleaver. We're not all June Cleaver.


I will not have any more kids. Three is, most days, more than enough. I love my kids, but I'm glad I came to my senses enough to realize our original plan of five would have been the equivalent to suicide.

You should see the looks on people's faces when I tell them we're done with kids.

"Oh you never know. You're young. You could change your mind."

My health absolutely plummeted after my youngest. We will be having no more. My bishop couldn't understand that (it escapes me why I even told him), other mom's can't understand it.

People outside the church understand it.

The problem is that it took me about a year or two to finally get past the guilt I felt when I thought "I'm done." Three kids. How is that "replenishing the Earth"? I know a family with twelve kids. Eric comes from a family of six. Am I selfish?


Why do we feel we must do so much, even at the expense of our health and sanity?

I'd love to know how many women scrapbook, bake, have children, etc., due to mormon cultural pressures. Because they think it's what they're "supposed" to do.

There's too much of an "understanding" that we are to serve others and serve others only.

What about me? What about you?

Why the silence and deadpanned faces when I say we need to consider ourselves, too? I don't necessarily just speak of women, here, but let's face it: guys find it easier to take time for themselves. They don't worry nearly as much.

Why do I worry that I said the wrong thing or stepped out of bounds?

We're not martyrs, after all. God wants his daughters to be happy as well.


Chedner said...

The ironic thing is that the more you ignore your own needs and health, the less you are able to truly take care of the needs of your neighbors.

I mean, a sick and meagerly cow isn't going to give much milk... and what milk it does give isn't going to be that nourishing.

... I kind of learned that lesson the hard way.

Amanda said...

Wow I am totally with you on this! While I'm a stay at home mom, I need my breaks. Three is way more than enough for me, and I will not be having others. I scrapbooked once, and I quit. I love to bake chocolate chip cookies, but let my husband cook everything else. I read, and read, and read. I'm a huge nerd. I love my kids and my family, but I have to have time for myself. I wouldn't last otherwise.

I know so many people who live the stereotyped perfect mormon mom life. It's insane. And rarely do I ever see it make any of them happy. Some people love it, I know, and some are totally wired for that, but then there are the rest of us, the majority of us, who aren't.

A friend of mine told me once that when she got married, she asked her mother what the church thought about birth control. Her mom said she wasn't sure if they had an official position, but her neighbor had five kids in six years, and then hung herself. My friend said that was a good enough reason to use birth control for her.

Katie said...

Interesting post. I hate scrapbooking, card-making, stamping, vinyl lettering, oh, and pretty much anything else crafty. I like to read, do science, and talk to my husband. It means that my "hobbies" are a little different from my fellow RS sisters, but... thats ok with me. When someone asks if I want to go the scrapbooking/card-making/craft night Enrichment activity (yes, we have all three, each on a monthly basis), I usually respond by saying that science editing is my hobby - its just that I get paid for what I like doing :-)

And, I love my (one and only) son, but we are done for now. I suspect at some point in the (far) distant future we will consider another, but we are thinking on the order of 5 or so more years. And I am 30 - not a young'n, as is often the assumption sisters make when I tell people we are waiting b/f we have another... the ole' "Oh, we can't wait, I'm OLD...(hushed voice) I'll be 30 in June!!!"

Anyway, the thing with having more kids, I actually went to therapy about that. Thats how bad the peer pressure in our church is to procreate. I just was not... coping, for lack of a better word, and people were asking when the next one was coming. I had to reach a point where I could look at myself, the package I came to earth with, my temperment and who I am, and say, You know, God made me this way and I am OK. So I am not Molly Mormon, who cares? I'm a good mama to my one child (who, I believe, we had out of peer pressure and much, much too early for us), and I'm ok with that for now. My mom went psychotic with 3. **Literally** psychotic. Literally. Like, Haldol psychotic. I would prefer to remain sane. I think that falls into the "health of the mother" category.

So, I am now the proud owner of a Mirena IUD :-)

Thanks again for a great, thought-provoking, discussion stimulating post, Lisa!

Lisa said...

So, I am now the proud owner of a Mirena IUD :-)

My sister! haha.

I have that too. As soon as is convenient, hubby's getting snipped and I'm ridding myself of the awful thing. I hate birth control.

I can understand women going psychotic (or suicidal, as Amanda brought up) after having kids - and you're right. The pressure is unbelievable.

We had three kids in about 2 1/2 years (i know!). I'm 27, so yeah there's time for more, but my kids need me. Eric needs me. I need me. I'm going back to school. I'm writing. I'm playing with my kids and - gasp - going to pay attention to them. You can't do that when you're perpetually pregnant and/or nursing.

Like Chedner said: "I mean, a sick and meagerly cow isn't going to give much milk... and what milk it does give isn't going to be that nourishing."

It took so long for me to be okay with not wanting any more kids, to be able to ignore the looks and comments from others when I said we weren't having any more. No, it's none of their business, but *shrug*

I don't know why we're so insistent on keeping the idea of huge, gigantic families going. I don't know just how "doctrinal" it is. I told Eric, it takes 2.something kids to perpetuate the species. We've had three. Done our "duty"

But even my bishop asked if we had thought it through. WTF?

Sometimes I think we had our first too early as well. I don't know how much of my "feeling" that we should have one ASAP was actual impression versus "I want to be Molly Mormon."

Seriously, I did. It's really nothing anyone should aspire to...but that's another post entirely.

Laura said...

I hate scrapbooking. I have no idea why we devote so many enrichment nights to worthless crap like this. It is NOT enriching. It's mind numbing. I think it would be really neat to see more enrichment nights that include writing classes, mechanics 101, tips on living green, etc....Isn't there more to life than cutting up pictures?

nyn said...

I LOVED this post. I am sorry that I wasn't in your lesson on Sunday. I would have been shouting out the "Amen sister" and "you go girl" after each assertation. I also have "only" three kids. They are all girls and after having out my mirena this year my hubby got the *snip *snip taken care of. I always get questions about if we are done and don't we want a boy. I just respond with - we have a boy in our family we call him Dad. I get very annoyed and frustrated when people think they can dictate the amount of children I should have. I guess if they agreed to take care of my kids once I ended up in a nut house or dead then maybe, but seriously?
I do take my alone time. If I didn't I would be a horrible person to be around and not a great Mom or Wife. Thankfully I am married to a man who is very supportive and understanding of my need to be an individual apart from a Mom and Wife. I have had too many friends whose husbands "don't let" them do things. WTF?? Anyway, I really liked your post. Thank you.

Amanda said...

Nyn, I get the same thing - "don't you want a girl?" (I have three boys.) Sure, I wanted to have a girl, but it's not worth having more children, which I'm sure would all end up being boys, anyway.

I'm so happy my husband is supportive and lets me do so many things. I would go crazy otherwise. I have to have my own time in order to be a good mom and wife. People don't realize this too often.

Natalie said...

You've inspired me to call the elders and cancel the appointment I had to go teaching with them on Wednesday night. That's right. They asked me to go teaching with them the night before Thanksgiving.

:) Robert and I have also gotten some weird looks when we tell people we think kids are about 5 years away, and that we'll probably only have 2 or 3. You are not alone, sistah!

Lisa said...

Butbutbut, Natalie!! The Prophet said


I'm glad. More people need to make decisions based on their own family and individual needs rather than cultural pressures or just the idea that the Prophet's counsel is absolute, meant for everyone, no matter what. I don't understand how it could be.

Mormon culture drives me absolutely insane most days.

"Hmm, you know you're right. I'll go tell my husband that we need to get on that baby thing NOW...uhm, stay out of the janitor's closet for the next hour or two, would ya?"

Enjoy your day tomorrow!

mfranti said...

lisa? 9 years? when did you join the church? where at?

Lisa said...

May 7, 2000 in the Sacramento area. Why?

Lula O said...

What a funny post. I HATE scrapbooking. What the hell is card making? I swear, it's like we're sisters..

Cindy said...

I love the way you think! I hate scrapbooking. I felt it was my duty when I was a new mom to do it but I honestly couldn't get past the title page. You think it's like doing family history (which I also suck at) so it's somehow required but I think when eventually you've got twelve books for each kid it becomes a burden on your posterity, not a blessing. I definitely don't think anything that can get so expensive is going to be commanded by Heavenly Father.

I used to feel so guilty about only having three kids. I had to have my husband get fixed right after my son was born to save my sanity. I knew the mixed up feelings in my head were my own thoughts and hormones, not the spirit guiding me. I had to quiet those voices once and for all. I occasionally miss babies but I know it was the right thing for me and my kids. Every time I come across an LDS woman with three or fewer kids, I can't help but think, good for her.