Sparking Sorrow

With Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix, I finally decided to read her book and fold my clothes up tiny and pass along my unused items. Our whole family is participating and it’s definitely going to take a while. We can can only work on our tidying on weekends that are empty, and in the past two months, have only finished clothing and books.

I have been really impressed with the seriousness of my children in this endeavor. I watched them as they held each clothing item, hugged it to see if it “sparked joy,” and folded those that did or said thank you to those that didn’t. We’ve also narrowed down our book cases and found homes for old picture books in the Little Free Libraries in our neighborhood.

“Books” is a large category that also encompasses papers and magazines. Last week I sat with my magazines: mostly Exponent II magazines from the past 8 years. My internal dialog went back and forth. On one hand, I will probably not read each of them again. Also, all of the recent Exponent II issues are available online if I have a subscription. I don’t need the physical copies. I do, however, like to keep some books and magazines around for my children to stumble upon. Much of the literature I read as a teen came from my mother’s literature anthologies from her college days that were on the bookshelf in our family room. I would read while eating breakfast before seminary every morning. It’s how I was exposed to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself. I’d like for my children to stumble upon a book or magazine and be similarly enriched.

But. My oldest daughter doesn’t want to go to Church anymore. I support her in that, but it means she will grow up breathing different cultural waters than I did. On one hand, it’s great that she won’t internalize the sexism of the Church and question her worthiness as a person. That’s wonderful. On the other hand- will she cherish the stories found in the pages of my Exponent magazines? Will she relate to it? Or will she read it, perplexed that anyone could have this strange life of growing up a Mormon girl and being a feminist Mormon woman?

the collection of Exponent II magazines the author owns

I sat there, sad that it’s true: she won’t treasure and love these magazines as I have. They are a part of my life in a way that they’ll never be for her.

Suddenly, at that moment, I felt yet another twinge of empathy. As I looked at my magazines wishing my children will love and cherish Mormon feminism as I have, I realized that this is the same feeling that my more traditional Mormon family have about their own children and grandchildren, except instead of The Exponent II, they hold in their hands their temple experiences and feelings of hope towards a family together in the celestial kingdom. Will their children value the things they hold close to their hearts?

I’m keeping my magazines, just in case my kids do end up stumbling upon them. And my traditional Mormon family will keep their family reunion temple trips and “So what’s your calling in your new ward?” conversations because that’s how they relate to each other. And we will all watch the next generation choosing what they will cherish, hoping they’ll revere the things we love.


TopHat is putting her roots down in the Bay Area with her husband and three children. She loves the earth, yarn, and bicycling.

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2 Responses

  1. Rachel says:

    Very poignant and relatable!

  2. spunky says:

    This is wonderful, Tophat. I am confused about church memories as well– So many of mine are wonderful, and yet so many of them are about me being subjugated and hated because of my gender and/or voicing non-traditional thoughts. Like you, I am keeping my Exponent II magazines. But I have long since recycled the Ensigns. And I am teaching my daughters things that would not make the Exponent as revolutionary to them as it was and is to me. I think that is good, but it also leave me with a longing that I can’t quite put my finger on.

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