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Friday, August 19, 2011

Oh... to Fit In Just A Little Better

A year ago, an acquaintance of a different faith, criticized Mormons because Mormon women drop out of school to have babies. In other words, a stat about me. I tried to clarify the difference between actual doctrine and the various reasons many women choose to stay home. It likely came across differently than she had meant it. But honestly, a stat about me?

I was thinking about this a couple of months ago when, interestingly enough, a NewsWeek article was published saying that because I have a post-graduate education, I am less likely to be devout, active member of my faith. A stat about me. But honestly, a stat about me?

Lucky for me (and too bad for the stats involved), I have a both a post-graduate education and a family. And, to top it off, I'm active in my faith.

When I was in college, my aunt, a Ph D, mother of seven, and actively devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave me the best advice. She said, "Women can have anything. They just can't have everything at the same time."

I love it.

It's true.

But, you want to know the frustrating part? Nobody gets it.

When I was in graduate school, an elderly man asked me "Oh. Will that [your graduate degree] make you a better mother?"

I was shocked. Who did he think he was? The Prophet has encouraged both men and women to get all the education you can. I followed his counsel.

And you better believe that I'm a better wife and mother because I fought my way through advanced statistics, accounting, and other grueling coursework while managing high academic standards, and meeting work, family, and ward obligations.

You might say, oh, that's an old man living in the past. Well yes, I agree. It was a different time. But what about today?

I've thought a lot about that. What is happening around me? What are my contemporaries saying? Did you read the post Ryan wrote recently about the criticism he often faces?

Although his insight may sound a little harsh, it is surprisingly accurate, especially in how our roles and our situation are perceived by others on a weekly basis.

It never ceases to amazing me about how often people reflect their own standards, values, and expectations on others around them.

The problem lies in the fact that although our doctrinal believes are the same, our standards differ.

How about we do what's best for us, and you do what's best for you.

A close friend recently said, "I've grown to love you Utah, but I must say, I hope we don't have to live here forever. I'm patiently waiting for something new and exciting, somewhere I'll fit just a little better."

I felt like this described my feelings perfectly and the thought has come up time and time again this summer.

Ironically, it has nothing to do with the actual geographic location.

It has everything to do with fitting the mold. 

So, for now we'll do what's best for us, and you do what's best for you. And we'll wait patiently for something new and exciting, something or somewhere where we'll fit just a little better.


Bailee said...

you know when I made that comment...I was totally thinking of the mold as well. There are so many positives to being here but I don't fit. Loved the post! you are a fantastic mother and I'm so amazed how far you've come with education and career as well (maybe a tiny bit jealous too:) See you soon!

Shelly said...

Who cares about molds anyway, you're awesome at everything you do! My mom sometimes reads your blog and she always comments on what a "go-getter" you are.

Melissa said...

Unfortunately women feel like they have to be like other women to fit in. I bet most women would say they don't feel like they fit a certain mold - no two women can be exactly alike. My advice, be proud and confident in the choices you and your family make (because they are choices that YOU make for YOUR family). No matter where you live you are going to find differences in the people you are around... And that is what makes life interesting and enjoyable!! Mold smold!

The Steffensen's said...

I shouldn't even bother commenting because I was going to say pretty much exactly what Melissa said. I face criticism all the time for some of my choices, but it doesn't bother me a bit because I'm happy with my life. Be happy with your choices and your life and you will fit in anywhere!

The McGowans said...

I loved this post. I totally feel the same way. Utah and our family (meaning just my tiny family of myself, Michael, and the young ones) definitely have a love/hate relationship. Utah is a unique place and we are waiting for that next chapter.

Oh, and from what I can see.. you're a great mother too. :)

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