Guest Post: Is There Divinity Without Motherhood?
(DefyGravity just graduated from BYU in theatre education and history teaching. She’s a theatre addict, avid reader, anglophile and has been a raging feminist since she was in junior high, which fortunately hasn’t scared away her husband of 2 years. She recently started blogging about her experiences as a woman, a Mormon and a feminist at femininewound.blogspot.com.)
I’ve been pondering the various discussions on the bloggernacle about women and children. There are discussion about the fun and not so fun parts of having children from women who have them. There are discussion about wanting children by women who, for whatever reason, do not have children. I respect any women’s experience with having or wanting children, since clearly that is a path many find fulfillment in. But one conversation that appears to be missing is one about women who do not want children. (If I’m wrong, let me know.)
I am married and have no desire to have children. I’m okay with that, but that idea seems to be beyond many people’s comprehension, (bearing in mind that my family and many of my friends are LDS.) My parents, despite the fact that I’ve told them they’re getting granddogs, not grandkids, still assume I’ll change my mind. My in-laws seem to be waiting for a pregnancy announcement, and my friends are running on the assumption that one day I’ll be a parent. Nothing I say will make them believe otherwise.
As I’ve come to accept my feelings about parenthood, I’ve had to try to create a concept of divinity that does not include motherhood. In doing so, I’ve had to move away from LDS church doctrine, because it does not offer much in the way of female divinity that does not involve motherhood. The LDS church calls motherhood the highest calling a woman can have, and promises single women and women who cannot have children the opportunity to do so in the next life. The only name offered for a divine feminine, when we talk about Her at all, is Heavenly Mother, equating female divinity with motherhood. Women who do not want children are rarely mentioned, and if they are they are often told they are selfish and denying God’s plan. This is approach to womanhood offers me nothing but guilt and doubt in my own revelation.
Mormonism is the faith tradition I was raised in. But my personal revelation and life decisions have no place in that tradition. There is no concept of childless women in female divinity, especially those who remain childless by choice. So, is there divinity in women that does not connect to motherhood? How do we square personal revelation with the insistence on motherhood? Can there be a dialogue about women who do not want children in the liberal Mormon community?