This is the hardest post so far in this series. I have been fiddling through drafts for days and was going to write a long post about all of my superior thoughts on the subject and why you should agree with me. But I’ve come to realize, it really doesn’t matter what I think--at least not to you. What matters is what each woman thinks and decides to do in her own situation. I value stay-at-home-moms. I think the work they are doing is exceedingly important and certainly admirable. I am also impressed and pleased to see women being strong leaders and (sometimes more visible) role models in their communities through their careers. I think we can learn a lot from each other. I wish we could be better as women in building each other up, working together, and coming together to advance the cause of women. Too bad we are often our own worst enemies, and often in the way of cattiness, gossip, and passing judgment.
So what’s the big deal? Where did this whole conversation come from? If you aren’t LDS you may be puzzled. In my perspective, I feel there have been two potentially contradictory philosophies in our church. One is for women to stay home as the primary nurturers of children whenever possible. The other is that women should get as much education as they can. I think this is a big grey area where each woman (and family) needs to do her best to figure out what is right for her. Unfortunately, some people see this as very black and white. Women who choose to work are being selfish and not following the prophets…unless they absolutely have to work as in the case of a single mom. It can make it seem like “Education is great as long as you aren’t married yet or you don’t have children.” (Certainly I don’t speak for the church or all women in the church but these were some of the concepts I gathered from the blog comments and have heard over the years.)
I used to get very frustrated with the judgmental comments that arise from these ideas. As I said, I was quite defensive and this was something I thought about a lot in the past. Strangely enough, I had to find a blog to remember that people even think this way! Maybe that means I have grown up. Maybe it means I am more confident. Or maybe I was just hoping that everyone else progressed, too.
Regardless, it doesn’t really matter any more.
I feel confident in what I am doing.
I know it is right for me and my family.
I don’t really care what other people are thinking or even saying about me (at least in regard to this topic) anymore. Go ahead, ask me if I am going to be a dental hygienist. I will smile and politely say, “No, actually I am a dentist. (Yeah, like a dentist-dentist, not a hygienist or assistant)” or ” Ask me how I am going to manage my family and a career and I’ll tell you, “I’m not sure” or “We’ll take it one day at a time.” I may even ask for suggestions.
The only real issue I want to discuss is the concept of education as merely “the backup plan.” I think education is crucial and for more than just having a career path “in case” you don’t marry or your husband can no longer provide for your family. I want women to educate themselves for a simple selfish reason…to improve! To find empowerment through knowledge and new skills. To be enlightened to new viewpoints. To experience. And I think this not only improves the mother, but her children.
At some point, for many of us, the “back up plan” becomes “the plan.” I don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t decide to follow through with my inspiration as a 20 year old single woman from Utah. I know I wouldn’t be married to Abe and maybe not married at all. I obviously wouldn’t be a dentist—would I be a stay-at-home-mom? Regardless of what I may have been, I don’t think that after all of that time, money, and work that God wants me to quit now.
I hope you can support me in this choice just as I will strive to support you without judgment.