On Saturday evening a loved friend met my babe for the first time. Perhaps because of this, the conversation turned to children, and whether she hopes to have one some day. The answer was yes: one. I told her the thing you say, that if she chooses to have a baby, and is able to have one, that she “will be a great parent.” I said this thing sincerely–completely, completely sincerely. She said the thing that I have never had anyone say. “Do you think you are a great parent?” For what felt like a long time, I could only pause. I could only be silent.Read More
Dear Church leaders,
I’ve seen the new page at motherhood.mormon.org. You know which one: the one that celebrates mothers by saying that parenting (specifically, motherhood) is our “highest, holiest calling.”
First, thank you. I know you’re trying to pay me a compliment, and I should receive it graciously.
Second, I’d like to gently remind you that what you’ve said isn’t quite true, and I can’t honestly receive a compliment that is a lie.Read More
In 1870, in the wake of the United States’ bloody Civil War and the start of the Franco-Prussian war, Julia Ward Howe (American abolitionist, suffragist, pacifist, and author of the well-known “Battle Hymn of the Republic”) penned an “appeal to womanhood” which would later come to be known as the “Mother’s Day Proclamation.” She wrote:
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of tears!
Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
It was a few years ago, when I lived an hour’s drive from the nearest church branch (we joked that it was a “twig”), that I started to download and listen to General Conference. It seemed rather pointless to me to drive for an hour to sit on uncomfortable, cheap chairs in a room with maybe 4 other people to watch the conference that the rest of the world has seen 2-3 weeks earlier. So I began the habit of listening to the talks online as I did dishes, folded clothes or worked otherwise on an almost daily basis.
As an audio learner, this turned out to improve the conference experience for me, and probably for the first time in my life, I really heard the layers of meaning in each of the speakers’ talks. But this experience was not limited to the talks.
This one morning, I was ridiculously stressed. It really was nothing new. I was undergoing IVF for either the 3rd of 4th time in preparation for a surrogate to hopefully carry my child. IVF itself was no easy task with my complicated medical conditions. And we lived rurally, purposefully so, for the job there would pay enough for us to undergo IVF and surrogacy. So I was preparing for a 2-day, 20-hour drive to the city where I actually undergo the IVF surgery. My surrogate lived even further away, and was having family and fertility problems of her own. On top of that, we needed to arrange for post-IVF transfer of the live embryos to the surrogate, which involved a number of additional governmental bureaucratic authorities that required additional medical test results from all of us.
I was ridiculously stressed. I cried daily, several times a day, often bitterly, sometimes for reasons I still can’t understand. Sometimes I cried tears of joy from General Conference e talks. Other times, I cried uncontrollably because of General Conference talks.
And I felt completely alone.Read More
by Robyn Rowley
I expected motherhood to be hard. I was nervous about having a baby because I’m not great with kids and I loved going to work every day. I was pleasantly surprised the first few nights home from the hospital when I was (sleepily) excited to wake up to my baby’s cries and feed her. Despite recovering from major surgery and labor, motherhood didn’t seem as difficult or as dull as I had imagined.
But I began to struggle, and I soon couldn’t remember why I wanted to have a baby. My initial major difficulty was the inability to sleep, even though my baby slept like a champ at night. The exhaustion soon made me desperate, and I tried everything I could think of to get precious shut-eye. I counted sheep. I sang lullabies to myself. I relaxed every part of my body until I ran out of parts. I wore ear plugs. I removed the clock from the room so I couldn’t look at the time or hear the ticking through my ear plugs. I took melatonin before going to bed. And then I started taking melatonin every time I woke up during the night to help me go back to sleep. I decided one bleary morning when I had only slept two hours that I had discovered a new definition of hell.
I had plenty of support, especially from my husband, who studied at home to help with the baby. Despite his efforts to give me a break and let me rest as much as possible, I just couldn’t relax.
The anxiety quickly became unbearable. That, plus a sleep deficit, was giving me headaches. I lost my appetite.Read More
It took me a long time to read this book, 1) because I actually read it one and a half times, and 2) because I read it almost entirely out loud. The first “half time” came on a long, long road trip across the United States, and was enough for me to know that I wanted every member to read it. The reason was both simple and personal: reading Mormon women’s experiences in their words facilitated the most amiable discussion on Mormon feminism that my traveling companion and I had ever had. He heard the women’s pain and joy, and he could not ignore them. Mormon Women Have Their Say birthed compassion and understanding.
The “whole time” came after my babe was born. I started again, and read a few pages at time, while I fed her. We finished just a few days ago, and it felt like a marvelous accomplishment.
The book begins with a preface from a woman at my graduate school that I do not know well, and then a longer introduction by Claudia Bushman, about the project the book stems from, and its history and impetus. One of the things she talks about is how we have few records on Mormon women, and fewer records on Mormon women that weren’t named Emma Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Emmeline B. Wells, or so forth, and fewer records still on Mormon women in the 21st century. The Claremont Oral History Project begins to correct all three.
It offers hundreds of records on regular Mormon women. In Claudia’s words:Read More