This picture was taken at a press conference for new bills introduced into Congress and Senate for The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) during the 40th anniversary on March 22, 2012 of the March 22, 1972 passage of the ERA through Congress. I was so inspired by this program that I decided to create a series of posts dedicated to the ERA’s past, present, and future. In the first post I gave some background information on the equal rights amendment, in next post I outlined my personal journey from knowing nothing about the ERA, to reading From Housewife to Heretic, to becoming a National Council for Women’s Organizations Mormons for ERA Activist! This final post will be dedicated to the future of the ERA, why it is so important and what you can do. Check out the official ERA website for more information: www.equalrightsamendment.org *Caveat: All quotes are taken from my rapidly written notes from March 22, 2012 and any mistakes in their translation and reproduction are entirely mine.Read More
Two and a half months ago, I gave birth to Baby A, my third and last child. As with my other two, his advent has inspired a lot of reflection about baby blessings. I still feel, as I did six years ago when I gave birth to my first child, that I should somehow be involved, that I should somehow be included in this ritual. But how to do it?
One option is to do the baby blessing at home. At home, there is a lot more freedom for innovation, particularly if you aren’t concerned about getting the fancy certificate. (The baby can be entered into the system as a child of record by the ward clerk without the certificate.) At home, couples can decide to hold the baby together, can write the blessing together, etc. This might be considered a more informal “parents’ blessing” upon their baby.
Another option (to consider at least) is to see if your bishop is open to having the mom hold the baby during the baby blessing in Sacrament Meeting. The handbook is clear that only Melchizedek priesthood holders can be in the circle. But if the woman is sitting down inside the circle, she’s not really in the circle, is she? It might be worth asking your bishop about this option, particularly if he’s the type to not be afraid of innovation.
Similar to the previous option, you can ask if you can hold the microphone during the baby blessing in Sacrament Meeting. Since this is a job that usually teenage boys without the Melchizedek priesthood do (at least in our ward), it seems clear to me that having the mom hold the microphone should be a viable option. It would look a bit funny and awkward, I think. And it might seem a bit unchivalrous to the observer to see the mom craning her arm around to hold the mike in front of her husband’s face, but the image kind of tickles me. I like the idea of the ward seeing that female presence up there doing something a bit awkward because she feels so strongly that she would like to be a part of this ritual.
These three options above are what I would call integration options — options that bring women and men together during the blessing of the child, though they do still tend to be male-voiced and male-centered. Another category of options would be separation options, in which a woman/women blesses or prays for the child without men being present.
This could take many forms, of course. One way to go about this is to invite friends to bring a poem, story, song or thought to offer which might help the baby navigate his/her life. As women sit around a circle, they could share their offering, and the mom could close the gathering with a blessing/prayer for the child.
Alisa wrote a beautiful post about a ritual she and her friends participated in before the birth of her child. Her experience is more of a blessing or ritual for the mother-to-be than for the baby, but several of the ideas could easily be adapted for a female-centered baby blessing.
Another idea is to have the women surround the mother and child. They could join hands with one another forming a ring, or they could all put a hand on the mother/baby, as they take turns praying for or pronouncing blessings upon the child.
Personally, I like the idea of doing both some sort of integration baby blessing and some sort of separation baby blessing. I think it would give me peace to know that the more male-voiced baby blessing ritual would be balanced out by a female-voiced baby blessing ritual.
Which of these options resonates most with you? What other ideas do you have for either integrating women into the male-centric traditional baby blessing or for creating women-centered baby blessings?
This last Mother’s Day was new to me. In the past few months, we unexpectedly found ourselves in the lucky position of increasing the numbers in our household, with the end goal/hope/prayer to permanently adopt. It has been a wonderful adventure and my husband and I are absolutely thrilled. Still… I faced Mother’s Day with trepidation. The first time I was wished a Happy Mother’s Day outside of the foisted “future mother” carnation at church, I was a young single adult. It was in a simple, yet beautiful card from a gay friend. He was also Mormon, and a close enough to know that I could never carry a pregnancy. As he recognised that we both had impossible mountains to climb if we were to gain the families we desired, he wished me a Happy Mother’s Day in a beautiful card with a hand-written addition, to the “Mother in embryo”.
Since then, other men, usually men I dated or close friends, including my husband, wished me Happy Mother’s Days. Most often, children I know—nieces, nephews, Sunday school children who all know I do not have the worldly status of “mother” have always wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. Dear, beautiful, precious close female friends also have wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. I’ve loved this and always felt that was… well… normal. So, when we first married, my husband and I made the choice to celebrate our pre-eternal selves. With this, we have always given each other gifts and celebrated each other for Father’s and Mother’s Days.
This always seemed quite normal to me, until one May when I went Visiting Teaching.Read More
There is probably not a holiday more volatile for Mormon women than Mother’s Day. While some love the talks and chocolates and pansies, some haven’t been to church on Mother’s Day for years.
There are many reasons why one would like Mother’s Day to be skipped over at church. First, Mother’s Day is a secular holiday and the devotion of a worship service to a cultural holiday is yet another specter of American culture creeping into the “gospel.” Second, the veneration and idolization of mothers hurts a myriad of people: women who want to be mothers but aren’t, women who have no desire to be a mother, women who struggle in their motherhood or feel trapped in it, women who have lost a child, people whose mothers were abusive or absent, people who live in families without a person in the role of “mother.” The talks end up speaking to a minority group in the congregation while the rest shift uncomfortably in their seats, eyeing the obligatory chocolates, ready to bolt at “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
On the other hand, Mother’s Day is the one day that almost every talk is focused on women, or at least mentions women. It is entirely possible that for 51 Sundays in the year, every scripture will reference a man, every quote will come from a man, every life story and testimony will be about a boy or man coming of age and what he’s learned. But on Mother’s Day, there is a spark of hope that a woman’s name would be listed for every talk in the program, that someone will share scriptures and experiences directed at women, that a breath might be given to Heavenly Mother. We are dogs begging crumbs at the Master’s table.
I have been on both sides of this Mother’s Day war. I have spent my Mother’s Days rolling my eyes and sighing as well as hoping for a drop of gold. Is the motherhood rhetoric so drenched in “shoulds” that there’s almost no way to avoid hurting each other with it? Can we resurrect Mother’s Day from of guilt and shame? Or should we take the crumbs and run with them as far as we can? Should we even mention it at all?Read More
Here are some of our favorite posts about motherhood in 2011 and 2012:
*Guest post by Pandora about being a new empty nester
*April blogs about Primary’s best Mother’s Day songs
*Spunky writes about trying to identify with Mary as a childless woman
*Alisa’s poem about being a mother of a child with special needs
*Deborah’s poem about her niece, a former orphan
*DefyGravity muses, “Is there divinity without motherhood?”
*Whoa-Man’s letter to Heavenly Mother
*kmillecam defines her life, mothering and beyond
*Jessawhy on finding a career after motherhood
*Two of Three’s guest post on giving children self-esteem
*Guest post Brittany Kunz’s post about the death of her young son
Pandora works, sews and putters in Chicago. She is married with two grown up boys and a pug.
At least once a week, someone will ask me if I am dreading or in denial about my upcoming “empty nest.” The metaphor suggests gloomy connotations. Full nests are woven branches with chirpy baby chicks and warm, fluffy parents. Empty nests are twigs and tufts of feather plastered with a lot of bird poop. Because I have two kids graduating this year – one from high school and one from college – this question is considered a socially acceptable way to connect with a woman in my situation. The ritual ends however with my energetic answer: “We are looking forward to it! We are ready!”Read More