Latter-day Saints for Change

"And he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile." 2 Nephi 26:33

Making My Own Pattern

To Whom it May Concern:
I was born and raised in the church, grew up in Provo, attended and graduated from BYU and married in the temple. I’ve essentially always been active, served in callings, graduated seminary, etc. Despite all that, I rarely felt as though I had a place in the church, because I do not fit the suggested pattern the church lays out for women and I do not want to.

For as long as I can remember, I was uninterested in being a mother. It has never appealed to me, and I don’t believe I would be good at it. I love going to school and am dedicated to my areas of study. I want to work in the areas that interest me, and believe that that is what God wants me to do. I have spend the better part of my teen/young adult years feeling guilty because what God wants me to do and what the church said God wants me to do didn’t line up. I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do, but God continues to support my desire for education and employment rather then telling me to have kids.

This leaves me with no place in the church. The only path offered to a married woman like me is motherhood. Any other choice is considered selfish and against God’s wishes, even though I feel God supports my decisions. Even if I were to have children, my desire for advanced education and a career would still be suspect, because in the church’s teaching it is only acceptable to work outside the home if it is financially necessary. It is not acceptable for a woman to work if she doesn’t “have to.” The highest calling for women in the LDS church is stay-at-home mom, and any woman who does not fit that mold is either criticized or condescended to.

In insisting that stay-at-home motherhood is women’s divine calling, you alienate so many women. Single women feel left out because they can’t fill that role yet. When I was single I felt the church didn’t care about me at all, and wouldn’t til I married and had my first baby. I still feel that way, since I don’t have kids. I have been told that everything I do with my life, no matter how good, is second-rate, a place holder until I give birth. So up until this point, nothing I’ve done and nothing I plan on doing counts because it’s not raising kids. I don’t matter, my life is irrelevant, and will be forever if I never have children. Why should I, or any woman like me, want to attend a church where they are utterly dismissed?

Please stop telling us that God wants all women to do the same thing. My revelation shows that isn’t true. Stop telling us that the only thing that matters is motherhood. Stop devaluing the other things women do and the desires and revelation we have. Stop trying to fit us all into one box by saying “all women are mothers.” We aren’t all mothers and that’s alright. By insisting that only that one thing counts, you diminish single women, women who can’t have children, those who don’t want children, those who have already raised their children and those who work outside the home. Please, please stop telling me that nothing I do matters!

Liz
Provo, UT

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2 thoughts on “Making My Own Pattern

  1. Liz,

    I could have written this, almost word-for-word. The only difference is that I was born in NY and sealed to my parents after my mother converted when I was 4.

    Not all women want to or should be mothers!
    Not all women want to or should be stay-at-home mothers!
    This is OK!

    I like kids, but I have never really wanted one of my own. Early in college and dating, I thought I did (although I knew I would never be a SAHM). Later I realized that desire came from the fact that I wanted to be something other than a Mormon Misfit, not because I actually wanted kids. Since DH had no preferences on children, this has worked out.

    My mother worked and I think she would have gone a bit mental as a stay-at-home mom.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing, Liz! It is such a difficult place to navigate – being a member of a church when you don’t feel valued!! As a single, adult, childless member for 12 years, I can fully appreciate how difficult it was to hear statements like “every woman is a mother”. Women that hear these statements and still remain true to their own hearts and paths are such an inspiration to me. Thank you!

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