guestMormon 13 Comments

This post was by Chris W.  Our 1 year old has had a stomach bug the last couple of days – lots of laundry + little sleep = no fun. Watching my wife in action reminded me of something Lorenzo Snow said:

A mother who has brought up a family of faithful children ought to be saved if she never does another good thing.

I would like to universalize that statement just a little:

A mother who has lovingly brought up a family of children ought to be saved if she never does another good thing.

I’m very happy to see mormon culture adopt (albeit slowly) many of the feminist ideals. As we progress on this front, I hope that we are able to maintain our reverence for and support of mothers.

ETA: In my own defense, I want to clarify that I was not a spectator to the parenting this weekend. I was simply impressed at how dedicated, patient, and tender my wife is with my daughter.

Comments 13

  1. I may have left the wrong impression. We’re both taking care of the child (and each other), but she’s definitely better at it than I.

  2. I hate when my son gets those stomach bugs.

    I am also impressed with how my wife cares for him when he is ill, although I have learned how to be a caregiver too. Do you see a contradiction between equal participation of women in society and reverence given to mothers?

  3. I don’t see a contradiction.

    I want women to find satisfaction in there lives wherever they will. Currently, there is a lot of emphasis in mormonism on motherhood, but that’s not for everyone. I want to see us allow for more heterogeneity among women without losing our institutional respect and admiration for mothers.

    A quick anecdote:
    My wife, pregnant with our second child, went to the OBGYN for her first prenatal appointment. The Dr. (a woman), said:
    “Physically, you’re at a perfect age to have children. Psychologically, you’re much too young. You’re going to miss a lot of important social opportunities.”

    Well, my wife was quite upset (she’s 26, by the way). I appreciate that this woman has chosen a demanding profession, but I wish she could respect my wife’s lifestyle choices as being also honorable.

  4. Chris W. said:

    “Currently, there is a lot of emphasis in Mormonism on motherhood, but that’s not for everyone.”

    I might nitpick that statement just a little. I think that most women (not all) are nurturers by nature. But, not all woman can physically have children, nor even adopt. but that doesn’t mean they are not mothers in a sense. There are plenty of opportunities to nurture.

    Now, men generally, have the role of protector and provider. That, also is not 100%. but, frankly, many of us men would like to be doing something different than we are, but we have a responsibility which we willingly embrace. Frankly, what I do for a living doesn’t cure cancer or anything particularly noble, though I can extrapolate it to something that benefits humankind. But, it’s a stretch.

    I’d much rather be doing something worthwhile and contribute to society and I have to use my free time to do that.

    I guess my point is, I am all for choice, but in some cases, we just have to do what we know is really important.

    Being a mother is a necessary role if humankind is to endure. Father, too, for that matter.

    Being a high priced, high powered, successful businessperson is not.

  5. Chris,

    I am appalled at your wife’s OB/GYN’s intrusion into your decision to have children. That’s ghastly. I wonder if it’s a gender thing? You should tell the OB/GYN that the latest wave of feminism validates women in all of their lifestyle decisions, so back off!

  6. “not all woman can physically have children, nor even adopt. but that doesn’t mean they are not mothers in a sense.”

    I don’t think that is the point of the original statement. He said mother hood is “not for everyone” but that doesn’t really have anything to do with the physicality of it. There really are women who could physically have children and just don’t have it in their personality (nature?) to nurture or to have children. Mormon cultural pressure makes these women either marginalized or forced into motherhood.

    “Being a high priced, high powered, successful businessperson is not. [a necessary role]”

    I think this notion is based on a stereotype and sets up a false dichotomy. It implies that you either value motherhood and become a mother (if physically able) or else you reject it and become a power business woman. What about teachers, doctors, social workers, etc? Many things women want to pursue outside of traditional roles have very direct benefits for humankind.

  7. No, I think you misunderstood my totally vague sentence. 🙂 I wasn’t really implying that woman should not become teachers, doctors, etc. I think they should. I should have qualified my statement that it applied to both men and women. In my view, society wuld be much better served by better mothers and fathers. That would be a good start.

    However, I see women in Church News all the time who are lauded for their outside achievements and not their motherhood. I’ve often wondered if the church is speaking out of both sides of its month on that one. Or, is the stereotype more self-inflicted than promoted by the church itself.

  8. Jeff S: I’m not really sure where we disagree. I’m trying to say, perhaps unclearly, that motherhood is very important and that I’m glad that it’s celebrated in mormon culture. At the same time, I recognize that, for various reasons, some women will not be mothers and will find satisfaction and contentment in other pursuits. I think that should be recognized and celebrated as well. I just hope we continue to recognize the great sacrifices that mothers make.

    John N: I thought the same thing – the Dr. is a generation ahead of us, so she may have had to fight against society when she decided to delay children to go to medical school. I would have told her off if I had been there, but my wife just grinned and bore it. Perhaps the only benefit of our crappy HMO is that she sees a different Dr. every time she has an appointment, so she won’t have to run into this lady again.

  9. I’m super late to this party, how did I miss this post?

    Chris W, I think your wife’s doc was appalling. That is the point where you walk out and find a new OBGYN. Why in the world would she say that to a woman with a child who was sitting there pregnant? Ugh.

    Jeff, I think that many women may be better nuturers, but I think we also teach our little girls to be more kind and caring and take care of others. How many people buy thier sons dolls or encourage their sons to babysit? My husband spent the past three years in law school and we did the flex schedule thing while I worked full time. This meant that he was the primary caregiver for our son from the age of 2.5 to almost 5, and my daughter from 7 WEEKS to 2.5. He had to learn, but he is excellent with our kids, just as good or better than I. He is going to miss them terribly when he starts working. I’m going to have a big adjustment learning to stay home again. I think it has a lot more to do wtih learning the tools of caregiving than gender alone.

  10. Heather:

    “I think that many women may be better nuturers, but I think we also teach our little girls to be more kind and caring and take care of others. How many people buy thier sons dolls or encourage their sons to babysit?”

    I’ve had 4 sons and one daughter. None of my boys seemed to interested in dolls, other than action figures. I played Barbies with my cousins when I was younger (not sure I should admit that). I wasn’t encouraged nor discouraged by my parents to do so. I had a collection of GI Joes. I never changed one of his diapers.

    I did my fair share of babysitting as did my kids. What does it all mean?

    Circumstances require flexiblity regarding parenting. Yours would be one of those cases. I would never imply that men cannot nuture. Of course, they can. Men make great fathers. The world can use great fathers. They can also use great mothers. The world need those folks more than it needs anything else. I don’t see things getting better for the world’s children, only worse.

  11. I agree, Heather. I have a good friend whose wife has some health problems. This has lead to him doing a lot of the “nurturing” of their daughters (midnight feedings, etc.) and his daughters are very attached to him. His wife is an excellent and devoted mother, but I think he has a special relationship with his girls because of the effort he’s had to put forth. Circumstances matter.

    Mothers are fantastic. Let’s take it as an empirical fact that women are (on average or in general) better nurturers than men are. Do we know that this is because of some genetic (or otherwise inherent) trait? Is it because of the way they’re raised? Both? Are there scientific inquiries to the point?

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