On Not Apologizing For Living
I have talked before about my feminist awakening, and how I grew up groomed by my family of origin and the Church to be a good girl. A good girl goes to BYU, gets married in the temple, loves her children, wants to be home with them more than any job or career, and is happy in the gospel. I did my very best, and I am fortunate that I do actually like staying at home with my children for the time being. I am fortunate, because I have seen how those things do not fulfill many women who take the same path and find themselves lost and unhappy.
I am fortunate that I love my husband and like being married, and that I don’t mind being home with my children while they are young. I don’t have much angst with regard to those roles that I have, because I genuinely find joy in them. But even though I love being a mother and a wife, I don’t love the idea of being expected to fulfill these roles simply because I am a woman. If I choose to marry and choose to bear children and choose to stay home with them, it’s my choice, not an obligation. And I certainly cannot forget that I am quite privileged to be able to choose any of those roles to fulfill in the first place.
I had a choice more than a lot of people with regard to motherhood and marriage. Some women in the world are not even able to choose these basic rights. But the part of me that didn’t really choose, the part of me that felt obligated to get married and have children, that is the part that I resent when it comes to how the Church frames womanhood as an LDS member. So I am fortunate that I mostly chose to do those things out of personal choice. That little part of myself that nags “you should…” is something I have rejected in the past two years or so.
I am in a time of my life where I find myself constantly giddy at the thought that I can choose to do whatever I want. You see, I used to put myself into a box and say things like “later” or “after my kids are grown” when it came to my dreams. It was partly for safety, because all of us use excuses to not do the things we are passionate about. But it was also partly about how I was shaped by my gender in the Church. I knew that I could be a doctor, but that of course I would also be a wife and a mother, and those things would always win over medicine. I knew I could become a modern dancer in New York City, but only if I wasn’t married or if my husband could get a job or school there to primarily support his career. I was regurgitating the idea that I was in the periphery of my own existence.
I didn’t think of myself as the main character in my own life. I framed my very self, in my own life, as a supporting character. Even before I was married, I knew what I would automatically sacrifice in the name of supporting my future husband. I would go to grad school for sure if I wasn’t married, but if I did marry at BYU then I would have an alternate plan with children and a husband, and grad school…someday.
It’s like I kept a pocketful of apologies ready to use at any moment. I knew what the rules were, and if I broke them I would do the good girl thing and apologize. I would say sorry for grad school, for wanting more than only being a mother and wife (as if I had to choose between them?!), for feeling unfulfilled in a one-dimensional role.
But I see more clearly now that if I want to go back to school, then I can. If I want to start my own real food blog, then I can. I had been telling myself a story about how I didn’t matter, and I wasn’t good enough to go back to school, or to make and manage a sucessful blog. Well I have already told you all about how I am back in school. And furthermore, today I launched Our Nourishing Roots, the real food blog I have been dreaming about but too scared to create. But and there’s no doubt in my mind that I am capable and amazing. I know that it will be a success, because I say so. It’s like I finally get the true meaning of “well, excuse me for living!”
I don’t apologize anymore. And I don’t ask permission either. I see that I matter. And that is no small thing. I am very clear on the fact that my choices are my own. And by extension, each individual person’s choices are their own. So why would I apologize for doing what I love? Why would ask permission to be who I want to be? It’s my life. It’s very simple. If I want something in my life, I create it. I trust other people in my life to respect that and support me, and I give that respect and support back to them fully. I feel like I am truly alive for the first time with this realization. It’s bigger than these words on a blog page. It’s what life is truly about: passion, living in the moment, mindfulness, love. I am happy.