The Existential Crisis: A Common Phenomenon for Mormon Women?
I am currently having another existential crisis. At least, that’s what I call it – that feeling of not knowing where my life is going, not sure of what the right career path is, yearning to find a cause or profession that I can wholeheartedly devote the rest of my life to – you know, that feeling. I’ve had it for a long time, but I’ve especially sensed it ever since I’ve assumed the primary child care responsibilities two and a half years ago with the birth of my son. I worked part time as a teacher for the first two years, so my existential concerns were muted by the business of juggling child and work. But now that I’ve quit my job and am just taking graduate classes, it’s back in full force. What the hell am I going to do with my life? And how do I figure out the right path?
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a devout LDS friend who seemed to have it all figured out. She’s a stay at home mom of four kids, but has practiced physical therapy in the past and is now a freelance doula and birth coach. I was confessing to her my existential crisis and she surprised me by telling me that she too is constantly in one. She would like to perhaps pursue midwifery, but family and school logistics are difficult. I think she even commented that most women face these crises.
Can this be true? Even in the Mormon world? A lot of Mormon moms I know seem to face years and years of stay at home motherhood with equanimity. Sure, they get annoyed and frustrated with their kids, but many seem to have embraced that whole ‘seasons of life’ idea. They may work later when their kids are older, but for now, they’ve accepted their current careerless status.
I just can’t accept my careerlessness. I can’t face the next five or ten years of raising my children without knowing that I am also working towards my ultimate career goal (whatever that may be). I can’t face the mind numbing boredom and loneliness of raising my children without a plan for how I will someday contribute to my community through a fulfilling career. And I can’t figure out how to shake the feeling that the days I spend taking care of my child are days of meaningless time wasting.
I’d like to know how many of you face existential crises of some kind. And how have you worked to resolve them? Or, if you don’t face them, how did you find that career (or non-career) you love? What gives you meaning and purpose in life?
*Caveat* As I gripe about my deep dark pit of unknowing, I guiltily acknowledge that my concerns are the concerns of a person of privilege. If I lived in another time or place, every ounce of my energy would probably be consumed in just trying to feed my family and survive. My privileged problem is having too many options. Stay home or pursue a career of my choice? Stay home or go to school? Do both? These are the questions many women around the world can’t even conceive of asking. They do back breaking or mind numbing work or they starve.