I've been finding myself having the same conversation over and over again. After a bit of polite "how do you dos", the topic of career comes up. When I say that I'm a full time mother, I often receive the same incredulous look and questions of why I would choose that. One particular conversation I'll never forget. I was speaking with a man I highly respected and looked to as a mentor of kinds. I was a little blindsided when I was bludgeoned with "Why on earth would you surround yourself with such cookie cutter women?!" This individual was speaking of Mormon Housewives.
Now I wasn't offended. Not really. Probably because for a while there I thought of them as cookie cutters too. When I was attending BYU, I worked at a Italian Restaurant as a server. I hated when young mothers would come in with their kids during my lunch shift. First of all, they always made a horrendous mess, and they were really really bad tippers. (Note to ALL parents. No matter what, leave at least a 20% tip if you have young kids. You are paying for the service and the clean up.) After a while of working there, the moms all started to look the same. The same sloppy pony tail, jeans with t-shirts and flip flips. Huge purses bursting at the seams with coloring books, sippy cups and discarded jackets. The same bloodshot eyes barely seeing me as they asked for 4 cups of water with lids and straws, one diet coke, one salad and one cheese pizza. I really never gave them much of an afterthought. I had my mind on my date that night. And the businessmen at the next table had all ordered beers and were calling for refills anyway.
I now see myself fully developed into this woman. I don't want to have the sloppy ponytail, but I didn't get a moment to shower. I hate that I never wear my cute clothes, but my kids' hands are always so sticky and I'm spending my days cleaning, on the floor playing or at the park anyway. I try to brighten my eyes with makeup, but there is only so much you can do on 4 hours of sleep. I've learned to rock my huge diaper bag.
I that guess to the masses we may seem cookie cutter. We have kids and we stay home with them. There is a lifestyle that surrounds that. But the longer I'm a Mormon Housewife, the prouder I am to be such. We are not cookie cutters. We are not boring or lazy (HA!) and we have not settled.
We weren't always mothers. That's just what we have chosen to be. With all our degrees and experience, we choose amongst all other options to be mothers and wives. And it amazes me to be part of this generation. A generation of the most educated and experienced mothers yet. We have different needs than the generations before us. We need more adult interaction, most of us need time away. Most of us spent years developing ourselves as women outside of being mothers and wives. That part of us must continue to thrive. That's probably why we make up such a huge population of this blogosphere.
Blogging is an extraordinary development for us mommies. We have a place in the world and our words are heard, even if most of our time is spent in our homes. We have made the world aware of our presence and the voice we have in regards to everything from families, politics, to what products are actually worth our money. So many defend our choice to raise children as a career with confidence, humor, candor and grace.
Last summer I was in Spokane with my family. Two of my sisters and I took our babies to the park. As we played on the grass two college age girls ran past. They smiled, but I saw one give the other a look that said "lame". I looked at the two women sitting next to me, laughing and playing with their children. As a group we did look the same. We were all wearing capris with t-shirts and tennis shoes and hats (we had walked to the park on a very hot day). We looked about as stereotypical, stay-at-home-mom as it gets. But knowing them, I could hardly see them that way. All of us sisters graduated from college and traveled the world before starting our families. Emily has traveled to more countries than I can count and had a successful job at a university that she still advises on. Abby lived with a Namibian tribe in Africa. My sister Molly, who just gave birth to her first baby, taught school in China. I had my share of career and travel myself.
One of my favorite quotes is one by Edith F. Hunter. "Educated women in the home? What an odd thing to deplore! What better place to have us "end up"... what more important job is there than sharing the values we are learning to cherish with the next generation of adults? What more strategic place could there be for the educated woman?"
I love my religion and my family. I love being a Mormon Housewife. First because I think it is a wonderful and fulfilling thing to do with my life. And second because I am honored to share the title with so many amazing women.