|Dear Julie, I want to be you when I grow up.|
I am a big Julie B. Beck fan. I'm going to name my first daughter after her. Just like Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley was "my" prophet growing up, Sister Beck is "my" General Relief Society President. Sister Beck is rock solid. She is the opposite of all the fluff I was afraid I'd find in the LDS church's organization for women. I love that she encourages and loves ... all while telling me to get my act together and be more righteous (my words, not hers). Her words have empowered me so much as a woman and as a mother, especially as a mother who has chosen not to work outside the home.
I struggle sometimes with conflicting feelings about my role as a woman and mother. I was raised by a stay-at-home mom, and I was taught that being a mother would be the most important thing I would do in this life. I believe this.
To the world, being a SAHM often seems lowly, unfulfilled, unambitious, weak, etc. And sometimes I agree with the world--because, try as I might, there's still a portion of me that is "of the world." I judge people. I like the Eminem songs (the radio edits! I'm not that depraved!). I say "crap." I hate pedestrians and bicyclists who don't follow traffic laws--I want to run them over. I'm needlessly competitive and comparative. I often prize being right over relationships. Sometimes I wish I was a single businesswoman living in a posh New York apartment with a toy poodle named "Chintz" and a membership to the same yoga studio as Jennifer Aniston (we're meeting up for a kettlebell workout next Tuesday!).
But VP of Marketing Kimber Hamson and Chintz don't exist. My workout buddy is Jillian Michaels, and a kettlebell would cost twice as much as what I paid for my third-hand jogging stroller. But I don't need a kettlebell! I have a twenty-pound cherub to haul around on my hip! And that cherub smiles, laughs, and plays with me all day. He loves a stuffed Chihuahua named Nacho. He has seven teeth. He whispers "hot" when we're by the stove or when I hand him a warm little cheese bread. He took his first step last Sunday while I was teaching a lesson in church on the importance of faith and prayer in marriage. He kisses with teeth. He bob-dances to music. His favorite toy right now is the steamer dish from my rice cooker.
I'm his mom, and I love it. I am the most important person in his life. I shape his world. I am teaching him that he is worthy of love, attention, and trust. I trim this little squirrel's toenails.
Does the world think I'm powerful and influential? No. But am I? Let's see what Sister Beck says:
"Faithful daughters of God desire children. In the scriptures we read of Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, and Mary, who were foreordained to be mothers before children were born to them. Some women are not given the responsibility of bearing children in mortality, but just as Hannah of the Old Testament prayed fervently for her child, the value women place on motherhood in this life and the attributes of motherhood they attain here will rise with them in the resurrection. Women who desire and work toward that blessing in this life are promised they will receive it for all eternity, and eternity is much, much longer than mortality. There is eternal influence and power in motherhood" (Oct. 2007 General Conference, emphasis added).
I agree with Sister Beck. I feel my eternal influence and power as a mother. Beyond the cuteness of Graham is the eternity of his soul--the soul I am charged to nurture and teach. I'm not paid in worldly gain or prestige for this work, and I shouldn't be. "Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels" (LDS First Presidency 1942). No earthly currency can match the value of my calling.
I have a lot of thoughts on motherhood--more than I can fit in this post. I'd love to get those thoughts down and explore them more. My opinions are still evolving, and I'd love to hear your ideas on motherhood.
Potential future motherhood posts include:
Do I have to be involved in the community to be influential as a mother? Or can I just legislate from my couch?
I want to be a published author. That means getting paid (hopefully). Would that strip me of my SAHM status? What about non-paid hobbies/interests? How can I balance being a multifaceted woman with a variety of God-given talents with my ultimately important role as a mother?
Why being a mother should be the most fulfilling thing I do ... if I'm aligning my standards with God's.
How to cook barefoot.
How my education informs me as a mother and how I can continue to be educated through traditional and nontraditional means.
The physical process of becoming a mother: why informed decisions are key to an empowered birth experience.
My baby ate a doughnut for lunch today and other motherhood mishaps.
A mother's epistemology: how we can sort through all the crap we read/hear and make informed decisions for our families.
Lipstick: An exodus.
Sweatpants: A genesis.
How motherhood is a type of atonement.
Lessons from my mother.
And on and on and on. What would be interesting to explore?