Everybody blogs, right? Why not me? Looking for my niche, my angle, and the one thing that seemed to make me stand out in my corner of the world. I found it: Being single. And 40. And Mormon. In a family ward. In a town where EVERYONE is under 30, sealed in the temple and constantly reproducing. The best humor is found in our painful life experiences. Read about mine and laugh with me. Or at me. Whichever.
Despite being single the majority of my adult life, I have never regularly attended a singles ward. I went a few times when invited by a friend or someone I was dating, but I saw singles wards as means to “catch” a husband and since I always seemed to have a boyfriend, I never embraced the whole singles culture within the church.
According to the traditional LDS time line, I was married before my twenty first birthday and any thoughts of singles wards were quickly replaced with all things newlywed. I was thirty when I divorced and was thrown into a whole new category of singles. Previously called “Special Interest Singles”(I had visions of riding to church in the romantic short bus)and now simply called Single Adults(not to be confused with the YOUNG Single Adults) Subliminal message: “you’re old and we have to keep you away from the kids”. There were some(my mom)who really encouraged me to go to the singles ward, but I was wary. Ready to be active again, I started sneaking into the sacrament meeting of my family ward and slipping out before the closing prayer was said. The rare occasions that I stayed for the whole block seriously tried my testimony. Mormons are the nosiest people ever and don’t hesitate to ask you the most personal questions within seconds of introducing themselves and shaking your hand. Explaining I was divorced after ten years of marriage, but had no children was such a foreign concept that I felt I had slipped into speaking Swahili considering the confused looks I got. So maybe the 30+ ward is where I needed to be. Maybe my mother was right.
Though rare, there are entire singles wards dedicated to the over thirty crowd. The membership is guarded closely by the bishop. He acts kind of like a bouncer, checking ID’s and making sure everyone fits into the designated age bracket. There was no way I was facing this experience on my own so I sweet talked another inactive, thirty-something friend of mine to go with me. He is hilariously sarcastic and even if the whole experience was a dud, I knew we would have fun mocking it for weeks to come.
I feel it necessary to give a disclaimer: I am a TBM, have what I would consider a strong testimony of the church, and know the singles program was developed by the church to address an ever growing population within our membership, but… it’s weird. I feel crippling pangs of guilt even typing those words, but if we need any additional examples of how we are a peculiar people, look no further than the 30+ singles ward. First of all, no one said a single word to us. Not hi, not get the hell out, nothing. Has that ever happened in the history of modern Mormonism? All our initial worries of being attacked as fresh meat dissolved when we were completely ignored. The meeting itself was dry as a bone. The talks were boring, but the oddest thing was the silence. I had never realized the white noise that exists at the typical sacrament meeting in a family ward. Cheerios hitting the floor, babies slurping on bottles, high priests gently snoring, and a variety of other noises like primary kids “whispering” and the rustle of diaper bags were completely absent. It was creepy. The cold reception was unusual, but the silence was the weirdest thing of all. Do we really need a singles ward dedicated to the 30+ members? Shouldn’t we be able to participate and function within a family ward and turn to the extensive singles activities for “wholesome” socialization?