Friday, June 20, 2014

Holla Atcha Ladies!

I brought my good friend, Kyle, with me to church a few times while we were in high school.  After one of our trips to church she said, "Every time I go to church with you they talk about womanhood! I'm going to start calling the last hour of church Womanhood."  I assured her that we learned more than how to clean a home, raise children, and make our husbands happy at church, though I'm not certain she ever fully believed me. We had a few lessons a year on homemaking, but typically we focused on other religious topics.  During my teenage years I was a stereotypical go-getter.  I was overly involved in extra-curricular activities, enrolled in many AP and honors courses, and made it a point to spend as much time with my friends as possible.  I was pegged as a kid that was "going somewhere," and I had intentions to arrive at a spectacular destination one day. My father in recent years has taken to comparing me to Leslie Knope from the TV show Parks and Recreation because I am always taking charge of a situation and trying to get others to just do what I want them to do (I like to think that I am as funny as her too, but I'm not sure that is a contributing factor in his comparison). I did want to be a mother and a homemaker, but I felt like no one quite understood why I was so reluctant to resign myself to that fate when I had other talents to share that didn't involve birthing children. Given my personality and the ambitions I have to literally rule the world, I resented the many conversations we had at church about being a stay at home mother until I fully understood what it means to be a woman.

Sometime during my freshman year of college my mindset changed and I realized that there is inherent power in being a woman. During this same time I also took Economics 110 in which we discussed specialization and productivity.  By luck or divine design, I was able to relate my Econ 110 studies to my blossoming testimony of the Lord's view of women.  We talked a lot about a fictitious setting in which Robinson Crusoe and Friday had to collect X amount of coconuts a day and Y amount of fish.  If Robinson is better at catching fish than Friday then it makes sense that Robinson only catches fish and Friday only collects coconut.  If Friday is better than Robbie at nothing, then you find the point at which both individuals are working at maximum productivity and then have each individual do what will yield the most product with the least amount of work.  I realized the same is true in marriage.  Women have been blessed with the innate ability to love and nurture children, siblings, friends, community members, puppies, angry grocery store clerks, and literally everyone they come in contact with.  That isn't to say that men don't have the ability to love and nurture as well, but women have been blessed with a far more infinite capacity and tendency to do so.  I know all too well that some women have also been given the gifts of leadership and intelligence.  While this is true, if Robinson was better at taking care of a family than Friday wouldn't it make sense that, if their income allowed, Robinson was asked to stay at home while Friday was the CFO of a corporation?

I also recognized that I was only bothered by the go to work or be a stay at home mother dilemma because the world told me that being a stay at home mom was stifling my abilities and wasn't as important as being in the top echelons of corporate America.  There was a large part of me that yearned to get married and have children, but it was hushed by my ambition to please the masses.  Raising children, giving back to the community, supporting members of a church congregation, and efficiently running a home are noble goals.  Further, my leadership abilities and intelligence would be used in the arena of motherhood, just in different ways.  I will use my bachelor's degree and leadership abilities every day as the CEO of my own small brood.  Ultimately I realized that no matter what I decide to do, Heavenly Father will love me unconditionally.  While I decided that my ambition was ultimately to be a stay at home mother, other girls I met at college were still determined to have a career while they raised a family.  I am certain that they too will be loved as much by Heavenly Father as they were the day they left His heavenly care.  Regardless of what women decide to do with their lives, one fact remains the same; that it means something to be a woman.  It means love, it means sacrifice, it means nurturing, it means power, it means talent, it means ambition, it means adventure, it means daughter, friend, sister, mother, and teacher. It means God loves you.

To close, I want to share a quote from Quentin L. Cook:

"First, no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing could be more significant in our Father in Heaven’s plan. Second, we should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that sisters are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home. We rarely understand or fully appreciate people’s circumstances. Husbands and wives should prayerfully counsel together, understanding they are accountable to God for their decisions.
You devoted sisters who are single parents for whatever reason, our hearts reach out to you with appreciation. Prophets have made it clear “that many hands stand ready to help you. The Lord is not unmindful of you. Neither is His Church.”21 I would hope that Latter-day Saints would be at the forefront in creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive and accommodating to both women and men in their responsibilities as parents."

**Check out some great articles about what it means to be a woman in the LDS faith here, here, and here!