Thursday, October 11, 2007

To The Wiz

I’ve loved hearing everyone’s comments on my comments on Sister Beck’s talk. (Not that I’m self absorbed or anything. Maybe next we can all talk about my feelings on green paint… Sheesh)

But I wanted to answer Wiz’s comment. I started to write her a quick note, but then it got longer, and pretty soon my blogging time for the day was pretty well gone, so I thought I’d just post it here. If you’re sick of this topic, then I’ll see you tomorrow. :-) And if you’re not sick of it, feel free to chime in.

Wiz- I don't think you're wicked! I just think you're being way too hard on yourself.

You heard this:

"LDS mothers should be the BEST homemakers in the world."

But I heard this:

"LDS mothers SHOULD be the best homemakers in the world."

And as I pondered over whether or not I was going to buy myself a one way ticket on the guilt train ( something I seem to do occasionally) it occurred to me that I agreed with her.

As LDS moms, we believe that these spirits we bring into our homes in tiny bodies are extremely important brothers and sisters, who were faithful and strong in the gospel before they came to this life. And they have great works to do during their time on earth.

I think that because of this perspective (if we really know who we are and who our children are) - of COURSE it would then become a higher priority to spend the time it takes to nurture our children Vs going to the spa, watching our shows, - or even PTA meetings, right?

If you knew that you were raising say- Gordon B Hinckley, or Ronald Reagan, or (insert your favorite world leader’s name here) - would you do anything differently than you are doing now?

But our faith tells us that while our children may or may not grow up to be famous – they are all really THAT important.

If we have this knowledge, and other people don’t, we SHOULD be doing better. We SHOULD be the best.

Does that mean that if you belong to another faith, your children aren’t important to you? Absolutely not. And I think it would be insulting to say or imply that. Nobody has the market cornered on loving their children.

But I also see some parenting trends that are very disturbing. Seriously, (and I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about this) I am known in my kid’s circles as being a very Over Protective mom. Because I want to know where my children are going. And with whom. And who is driving and picking up, and what time.

I am continually stunned by parents who are willing to just drop their pre-teen daughters for a sleepover at my house - having NEVER laid eyes on me , or even talked to me on the phone.

When I see small children in a PG -13 movie (not that I, well, Ok you caught me…. Anyway….) because for whatever reason, their parents didn’t get a babysitter…

And for the love of meatloaf ! We have to have commercials now, and special days decreed to tell us to eat dinner with our families?!

I’m sure I do things that people could point out, too. Probably daily. But the difference is – I SHOULD do better. Because I have a different perspective.

Yes, she did tie housekeeping in with nurturing. But she very specifically said "Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work." I'm guessing we are all more talented in some of those areas than others.

And as a whole group - combining your strengths and mine - shouldn't we be doing better than other groups?

I think that getting wrapped up in the word BEST implies competition. Can you picture it?

Entering the grand champion Mormon woman alongside women of other faiths for the big housekeeping competition… Rows of Ironing boards lined up waiting like bikes in a triathlon. Eggs to separate, buttons to sew, diapers to change, windows to wash perfectly – and I mean both sides. After all, it’s the world championship, people! Fans chanting on the sidelines…. I’m trying to think of a chant for them, but my brain seems to be stuck in low gear today… Banners waving.. .

Funny to think about. But I don’t really see it as a competition. Just a reminder that where much is given, much is expected.

Anyway- maybe I’m rambling at this point and making it worse. I mean, I know this is nothing like the well thought out, polished post you’re used to.


So I don’t think you’re wicked or apostate, or anything even close. In fact, I think you’re thoughtful and compassionate, in not wanting to have to step on someone else to make yourself higher.

Thanks for giving me something to think through. (oh, and if you send me your email address I won't write long responses to you on my blog anymore.) Did that sound like a threat? It was supposed to be more of a request. What time is it? I need a nap.

Anybody else want to throw a shoe in the dryer?


Heather said...

Good thoughts. You are a fountain of wisdom, and maybe youth too... I'll wait till I meet you to verify that.

JustRandi said...

I'm not sure I can pull off either of those fountains. Maybe a puddle... We'll talk.

Kimberly said...

That was brilliant. I mean, to you it's just musing about what's been on your mind, but to me, it's something I really, really needed to year.

Does that make sense?

Earl said...

I'm a guy here, so I'm SURE I'm going to be putting my FOOT in my mouth on this one. But I do have a couple of things to say. One, I didn't get what all the fuss was about. I'm thinking, WHAT, did Sister Beck say? Then when I started to listen to it, I realized that I HAD heard the whole talk, it didn't do anything TO me. You guys are programed to to take it personal, to be selfconcious, I think. Don't.
I'm sure ALL of us have areas we can improve in. In modern families I would say that some of these issues are as much the husbands as the wife or mother's. My wife works, home needs to be a two part(ner) thing. And sometimes I need to be reminded of that.
Having said that, I have been in LDS homes where things were FILTHY. I'm talking open gallon of milk on the kitchen counter turning into cottage cheese, open peanut butter jar (open for who knows how long), things moving of their own volition in the sink and a partial flat of tomatoes decomposing on the kitchen floor. I think of THAT when I hear Sister Beck.

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

excellent randi. well said sister. and your blahhahha made me laugh, too.

i totally enjoy knowing you girl, kathleen :)

kristen said...

Very good points. I think you captured the essence of her talk. Of course this isn't a competition; we should just strive to be the best that WE can be. I can't bake cakes like suzie homemaker, but perhaps she can't organize like me. We do the best we can to make our homes safe, spiritual, and CLEAN places to be. And I second Earl.....I've been in some homes where I think 'Oh my gosh; how do these people live in this?' That kind of environment should not be happening.

JustRandi said...

Kimberly and Kathleen,- Thanks for the nice comments!

Earl- I think you're absolutely right that we are just programmed - hardwired even - to take this stuff personally. We are constantly comparing ourselves to whatever standard is around.
And amen to the filthy homes. I agree that she was talking about a certain standard - not perfection.

Kristin- please, pretty please can you help me organize my closets??

Lena said...

OH thank you. I have been thinking these things ever since I've heard all of the people who are "disappointed" or call her talk "controversial." I thought about writing all of my thoughts down, but you did so now I don't have to! Thanks!

melia said...

Oh, there are some great insights in this post. Dare I say we may have a General Young Women or Relief Society Board Member here.

I still say wow, what an amazing talk that is full of validation for us as LDS moms.

Stephanette said...

My shoe or a pair of them - I'll try not to make them high heels that hurt.

Sister Beck's talk was THE talk to me throughout Conference. I've always had one talk that hits home hard...and usually it is because that's the aspect of my life that needs the most counsel.

I agree with you, Randi that sometimes inflection makes all the difference in the world. I also agree with Earl. Cajun Man says the exact same thing...I'm too sensitive and when he offers to help, I feel like I'm not doing a good enough job.

I also feel, and this was after going to BYU and living in Utah for several years that what The Wiz says has merit and it was my first reaction to Sis. Beck's talk. There is soooo much confusion in our religious culture in THE best and OUR best. I referred students to the counseling center because for the first time in their lives they earned less than an A, weren't asked out on a date, or had someone just not like them - and they felt like they were hopeless because they weren't THE best. It worked against my self-esteem, too. It still does.

I took no offense to her talk, though. She is one of my favorite speakers and she has traveled and spoken to my YW. I know that the natural man inclination of the things that I need to work on the most, though, is often that I feel defensive instead of listening for the true meaning. I cried through this talk and I was grateful to read your interpretation for one that didn't hit so close to home.

I hope that made sense and didn't ramble too much.

The Wiz said...

TheWiz at mormonmommywars dot com.

I am so flattered that you responded to me with a full post. How special am I? I'm the BEST!!!!!

I am a competetive person, I always have been. It's taken me a long time to accept that my skills are what's needed for my life, and others needs are helpful for me, my needs are helpful for them, and everything is interdependent. The fact that I can't decorate no longer kills me.

It's also taken me a long time to accept that housework is not required for salvation. Now I think, maybe it is?

And I am NOT good at housecleaning. It is a skill set I did not acquire as a youth, (can I blame my mother?) and it's very very difficult for me to keep my house even remotely clean (I don't leave milk out, but I've been known to go months without vacuuming). I feel like it takes a long time, it's repetitive, boring, work, and yes, it represents LOVE, and yes, it should be meaningful, and yes, it's what a mother does for her family, but I still hate it. It's endless, and quickly become joyless, even with music playing. :)

I am the BEST at finding other things to do. As jamisue put it on our blog, I am a Mary, with very little Martha in me. I have tried ever since I got married to acquire Martha's skill set. I am getting better, and then her talk SLAMMED me to the ground, that I wasn't nearly good enough, because I had stopped trying to be the best. I had given up, and accepted that my skills were good enough, and now, I am screwed.

And then people started calling people to repentance, saying speaking ill of leaders is the road to apostasy, and that was a big problem for me, too, because I believe in Sister Beck, I believe in our leaders, I really hate reacting like this.

And so I have spent the past few days cleaning. I'm trying to find meaning in it. Really I am. But I would so much rather do about 5 million things.

And those other things do include reading to my children, bathing them, playing games with them, and I never, ever thought my nurturing skills were lacking until now. My kids are happy, well adjusted, faithful people (so far, they're still pretty young) and I like to think I've added to that.

So there. Longest comment ever. But I can't win at housecleaning. My MIL can. But I can't. And now I am trying to get over feeling like if I can't be the best, then I shouldn't even try.

Always something to get over, isn't there?

JustRandi said...

I can see that as much as I desperately want to fix this for everyone, and have all the birds come fluttering in, and the little animals break into song.... it's just not going to happen. (But I'm just egotistical enough to try!)

And for the record - I would be thrilled to have your tenacity and willingness to keep trying. If you can teach me that, I'll come vacuum your floors. Just let me know!!

Yvonne said...

Beautifully put!!!

Melissa said...

Sigh... I'm afraid that I am in the same place as The Wiz. I wouldn't say that I was offended by the talk. Just discouraged. About 6 years ago a neighbor locked her front door only to realize that she had left her keys inside. The back door was unlocked, so she came to us, asked if she could come through the house and hop the fence. I wasn't home, but Hubby let her in. He had to CLEAR A PATH through my living room. When he told me this I was mortified and completely disheartened. I didn't know where to start in the mess I had created. But I did start. The change was very slow and I'm still changing. I am still not a perfect homemaker in the sense that my home is clean and tidy. So, when I heard Sis. Beck's talk it took me back 6 years. Back to a place where I was mortified and disheartened. I felt like what I was doing wasn't good enough. I need to listen to it again and try not to bring any crazy thoughts from last time with me. Maybe I will hear things differently the second time around now that I've had some time to really think things over...