There used to be a Mother’s Day tradition that the more children (and grandchildren) one had, the more recognition was deserved. Mothers and grandmothers would be given a carnation for each of their offspring. This was a post-war tradition meant to motivate women to repopulate the country since so many had died at war. I’m not sure an extra carnation is enough recompense for having one more child, but since affordable child care and financial support were apparently off the table, that was what was on offer.
I’ve noticed a correlation between talks about marrying early and having many children and a church leaders’ other views being on the political right. Why is fertility so desirable to some?
I was recently listening to a No Stupid Questions podcast called Is Having Children Worth It?. The population of the world is higher than it has ever been, so there’s no issue with “repopulation” or “replenishing,” meaning restoring what was lost (e.g. due to war). An accompanying fact is that individual family sizes are lower than before.
There are many reasons for this. The main one is that infant and childhood mortality rates are not the issue they used to be. It was so common for one’s children to die in childhood that titled and royal families (particularly in countries where primogeniture prevented women from inheriting titles and land) felt they needed to have both an “heir” and a “spare,” meaning at least two male children. This is how Henry VIII became monarch. His older brother Arthur died as a teen, and Henry inherited the throne. Henry was infamously obsessed with a male heir. His first wife Catherine of Aragon bore six children, but only one survived into adulthood, the Princess Mary. He divorced the aging Catherine to try for a male heir with Anne Boyleyn, who was pregnant four times; only her daughter Elizabeth survived into adulthood. Henry had her beheaded, mostly for failure to deliver a male heir, and nine days later, he married his already pregnant mistress Jane Seymore who bore the hapless Edward VI, Henry’s long-sought heir, and then Jane died nine days later from puerperal fever, a common post-childbirth infection. He didn’t give up on his need to have a “spare” son either, marrying three more times. But just to keep that total in mind, there were 11 pregnancies, and only 3 children who survived. Edward VI, Henry’s first successor, died at age 15, so not quite an adult. Henry also had an illegitimate son with his wife’s lady-in-waiting Betsy Blount; he named him Henry Fitzroy and openly acknowledged him, even considering adding him to the succession; however, Henry Fitzroy died at age 17 from consumption. So there was good reason for a focus on fertility at that time. Those things simply don’t apply to us anymore, even after a global pandemic.
Other reasons that large families are no longer as popular is that child labor is not allowed, and most people don’t run family farms. In other words, children must be financially supported, often through university level education. They aren’t adding to the family workforce; they are a financial liability. There are some other ways in which more children cost families more money that you might not be thinking about. The more children in the home, the larger the home must be. This is one reason people in cities often have smaller families, because real estate is at such a premium, and you can’t cram another person into your tiny two bedroom apartment. Another interesting factor from the podcast is that when car seat laws went into effect, requiring all children under 8 to have their own car seat that was buckled in, family sizes went way down. That third child takes a family from a sedan to a more expensive mini-van.
The podcast then asked whether having kids was worth these sacrifices, a question psychologists have attempted to answer through happiness surveys. You may have heard this one before. Child-free couples report higher levels of happiness than parents, but a twist I hadn’t heard before was that mothers report lower levels of happiness than non-mothers, but fathers report higher levels of happiness than non-fathers. Fathers also report higher levels of happiness and lower levels of depression than mothers. So there’s a chilling Mother’s Day thought as SCOTUS plans to force motherhood on impoverished women.
Even when interacting directly with their children, fathers enjoyed the interactions more than mothers. Seriously, if any of you have children, you have to see why this is. Women are usually tasked with menial domestic chores that men avoid, such as managing the family calendar, doing dishes, cooking, cleaning up, being responsible for the children’s clothing, health, and happiness. Fathers mostly have higher quality interactions like playing with them in a stress-free environment. If we want mothers to have similar levels of happiness to fathers, we should quit forcing women to be the primary caregivers by telling them they are angelic nurturers and that they are not “real women” if they don’t. We should make day care affordable, provide health care to all, and eliminate the poverty gap between men and women.
But hey, I guess they get a candy bar once a year in recognition instead, so that’s enough.
I was thinking about the Primary songs associated with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and how they reinforce these messages that improve the lives of men at the expense of women. Consider the song “When Daddy Comes Home.” The song is playful and in a major chord. Daddy coming home is a special treat, a glad event that relieves the monotony of the daily routine. Daddy gets love and special attention, almost as if he’s an honored guest. There is no mention of the mother in this song. The Mother’s Day song we always sang when I was a child was “Mother I Love You.” This song is in a minor chord with a ponderous cadence to it. “Mother, I love you. Mother, I do. Father in Heaven has sent me to you. When I am near you I long to hear you singing so softly that you love me too.” So, we managed to insert a man into the short verse, and rather than the lyric being at all about the mother, it’s entirely about the child’s needs and wants. She is clearly the caregiver, and her role is to make the child feel loved. The daddy is a fun guest, and the child’s role is to make him feel important.
I know Mother’s Day is in the rear view mirror now, but I couldn’t help but think about these things as we celebrated it.
The Church’s motives in promoting fertility are pretty obvious. Church is truly for children and is one support for parents (it’s where you find babysitters and “good” friends for your kids). It’s also the easiest way to create more Church members. On the downside, the current war against LGBT youth that some church leaders are waging is a huge problem for retention of larger families. The more kids, the more likely some of them will be LGBT.
- Do you like Mother’s Day?
- Do you think these messages are harmful?
- Why is the Church obsessed with fertility? Do they put their money where their mouth is with support for families?
For your poll: No, I do not like Mother’s Day.
I had never thought about those two songs, but they are pretty representative of the Church’s views on parenthood. Just another early reinforcement of their ideal gender roles, sad but thorough on their part.
If the Church is “truly for children” you’d think they would make sacrament meeting a child friendly experience instead of a bore-fest that parents have to try and overcome. That said, it’s usually pretty boring for adults too. But I agree that it’s truly for children in the regard to the level of teaching and thought that are presented.
When I actively attended, I hated both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I saw how Mother’s Day made my wife feel like she didn’t meet the Mormon ideal, and my own dad was not so great so I tried to avoid attending church on Father’s Day as a kid and young adult. I think many members have similar experiences/complex feelings about these days. (The fact that many wards honor all future mothers in the eternities, not just mothers, makes it clear this is the case.)
I wish the Church and society more generally would focus on the origins of Mother’s Day because a Mother’s Day for Peace is a celebration I can get behind. It’s probably the type of holiday the Savior would promote too.
Two of our best friends (a married couple in their 50s) never had kids, and we have four. We have a little joke that we like to share from time to time: “Couples with kids feel sorry for their friends without kids, and couples with no kids feel sorry for their friends with kids”. I’ve often wondered about the truth behind that joke because as thrilled as my wife and I are with our kids (adults now), our friends seem very content in the life that they chose.
I can’t imagine not having kids, but I will say that we are very very happy with four and can’t imagine having had more. The law of diminishing returns has to kick in at some point doesn’t it? The funny thing is, as happy as our household was and is all these years (for which I am VERY grateful), none of my kids want more than two children of their own. They think 4 is crazy. So who knows? And my friends in their 50s with no kids…they don’t regret their decision although they are starting to express some “who will take care of us” feelings as they approach 60. Again, who knows?
Apart from mothers’ day in the UK being before Easter, so a while ago now, it’s pretty hit and miss at church. Last year we were participating via Zoom and I was grateful to be able to turn the volume down on a truly dreadful talk by one of the young men, basically using all the very worst gender essentialist and sickly nauseating quotes about women and mothers from the GAs. I don’t recall this year’s offering so it must have been fairly neutral at least. But from a purely environmental perspective I would wish we weren’t given the peculiar handmade gifts we get every year… this year a garish pot full of sand and stones with a pipe cleaner flower in it. If we have to accept a gift can we please stick with chocolate.. or a daffodil?
//On the downside, the current war against LGBT youth that some church leaders are waging is a huge problem for retention of larger families. The more kids, the more likely some of them will be LGBT.//
This is part of the betrayal I feel. I thought the church was something that would strengthen my family and it turns out it is creating unnecessary and devastating wedges. If church is for children, it will work harder to strengthen the families those children live in and will need at varying levels throughout their lives.
Hawk Girl has hit the nail squarely on the head here. Younger families are having fewer children because they are caught up in materialism and keeping up with the Joneses.
In my day, it was acceptable for multiple children to share a bedroom in a modest home. Now, younger parents feel it is cruel to deprive a child of his or her own bedroom.
This has led to ever increasing houses sizes, with ever increasing costs. This in turn leads younger parents to both work more than full time to afford these large homes.
The great irony is children are harmed by this emphasis on commercialism in housing. They are not as close to their 1.1 siblings as they would be if they shared rooms like children in the past. They grow up in isolation, lounging in miniature crocs and sweatpants playing video games alone.
The answer for strengthening families is clear. Abandon the emphasis on luxurious homes, and return to modest homes where parents have the time and inclination to be with their children.
On fertility… I’m the eldest of 7. I have two children (now adults and interesting people in their own right) and found that to be plenty to cope with. Mothering does not come naturally. I did once shock a sister-in-law by stating I had never once experienced any desire to hold someone else’s baby (indeed I tended to regard anyone who wanted to hold either of mine with deep suspicion). Mostly my parenting has been driven by a strong sense of responsibility towards my children. My siblings have in order of descending age 5, 9, 3, 2, 7 and 3 children respectively. So a lot of grand kids for my parents anyway, even if some might regard me as having let the side down.
When my daughter was in primary on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (she’s 26 now) she was asked to be in a special Mother’s Day program. She was assigned to relate a homemaking skill she learned from me she went up to the mic and said “Hello, Papa John’s? They also sang they I’m so glad when Mommy comes home too. Im surprised they didn’t sing “I’m so glad when after school is over” or “Im so glad when the nanny goes home” Probably now they are singing “I’m-so glad the pandemic is over and I’m not locked up with my parents all day”.
I was one of 7 kids, my wife was one of 10 (her family was not LDS)and we proceeded to have 7 kids. To me, it was just the Mormon way and we didn’t give it a second thought. We now agree that we would have been able to be more effective parents and had a much less stressful life with fewer kids but can’t agree on which ones to eliminate (JK).
My wife’s health was ruined by complications from the last pregnancy. I was run ragged paying for such a large brood (even with multiple kids sharing a bedroom).
I’ve been in wards where all the mothers stand up on mother’s day then they do a countdown where those with more than 1 kid remain standing – and so on – until the most prolific one or two are left standing and celebrated and given a special treat. They certainly deserve it, but it does reinforce the “more is better” subtext – and leaves the unmarried and those with a lower count feeling less than.
One of my children and their spouse are both infertile. They have not been successful with IVF. I’ve had comments from their ward members like “have they tried to have children?” and “do you know that the church is against IVF?” Once I responded that I got out the Magnadoodle and sketched out how it works – the rest is up to them.
When I was a kid, my folks referred some dear friends to the missionaries. He was an attorney and she was an RN that managed a busy ER. On the first visit, they tossed the missionaries for scolding them for having only two children and not intending to have more.
The ideal? Really mean it when they say that the number of children is between the couple and the Lord. And don’t even raise the question.
Rookie mistake: our first child was born like nine months and 22 minutes after we were married and Mother’s Day came about 5 months later. When my wife asked why I didn’t give her a Mother’s Day gift, I replied that she wasn’t my mother. I was 23, OK.
And, did I just see JCS advocating for multi-player games?
I recall a few years ago Mike Lee made a very strange speech on the Senate floor, ultimately arguing (very poorly) that most of the troubles of modern society could be solved if couples just had more kids. Occasionally, we hear similar rhetoric enjoining people to increase their reproduction, both from Church leaders and right-wing conservatives. None of them, however, is able to explain exactly how this will solve any problems, socially or economically. And if you read between the lines on such rhetoric, you can all but see the words “white” and “straight” in there; go ahead and have more children, but only if you belong to the most privileged groups of society. Ironically, despite their obsession with overturning Roe, many conservatives are terrified of the prospect of people of color reproducing faster than whites.
The LDS Church is definitely obsessed with fertility because its survival depends on it. The greatest source of consistent, lifelong new members has almost always been the birth rate, not convert baptisms. And over the decades we’ve accumulated all sorts of Saturday’s Warrior pseudo-doctrine about whether there are finite numbers are premortal spirits and what kinds of families they are “assigned” to and how many children are we “supposed” to have…and all of this nonsense seems to override the important realities of family planning decisions, such as maternal health considerations and economic limitations. I know too many Church members who have procreated themselves into poverty and/or experienced preventable health complications. Such is not honorable behavior.
Do I like Mother’s day? Not much. It always struck me as a manufactured holiday meant to support greeting card companies.
The messages in our ward this past Sunday were all good. The main speaker recognized that while all mothers are women not all women are mothers. And while her mother was in the congregation she told stories of other women who had made an impression on her in her formative years. Then every woman got chocolates.
As to the last question it might be a demographic issue for the brethren. I say this with tongue in cheek but it is an issue because if too few women have too few children then the population goes from growth to decline and the economy follows. An extreme example is China where because of their “one child policy” they are going to go into a steep economic decline in the next few years as their population starts to shrink. Here in Canada this problem is not as bad as China but it is still an issue. When my generation, the baby boomers, retires our pensions will be born by a shrinking number of taxpayers. And then there is the issue of elder care and other health related costs that increase with age. In the next ten to 20 years this is going to be a huge problem for Canada which is one reason why we have such a liberal immigration policy. The US is going to experience the same problem but not to the same degree because American women have historically had more babies than Canadian women.
On a personal note my wife and I have six children and 20 grandchildren. Each of them is precious and not because of their economic value. I honor my wife, my three daughters, and all women for their sacrifice in bringing children into this world.
I’ve always hated Mother’s Day.
When I was young, it seemed like Mother’s Day was another birthday for my mom—and why did she get 2 birthdays? (sometimes my birthday would fall on Mother’s Day).
Its not that I disliked my mother, but growing up I didn’t feel loved by both of my parents.
As an adult, I haven’t liked going to church on Mother’s Day. First, the talks made me feel like an underachiever as a mother and as a woman. We are invisible the entire rest of the year.
We are not suitable to have leadership roles in the church on par with men. So they throw us a bone once a year.
I’m indifferent about Mother’s Day. Though its nice to show some appreciation to mothers, they can’t seem to manage to do it at church in a way that isn’t patronizing or marginalizing to someone. The most meaningful celebrations for Mother’s Day happen privately at home, anyway, so perhaps church isn’t the place for it at all. Ditto for Father’s Day.
My wife and I married in our mid-20s, but we were in our 30s before our first child was born. There were some hiccups along the way, including miscarriage, identifying fertility problems, and a failed adoption, but we kept moving forward as best we could. As much as I love the kids I have now, I treasure those childless years my wife and I had, where we had time and space to focus on nothing but each other. Also, as DINKs we were able to get established in our respective careers and make good use of our resources, and discharge all of our student debt before the first kid came along. And once in awhile we had to put up with some righteous indignation from other church members who thought we “weren’t doing it right”, but we just said “to hell with them” and went on a nice child-free vacation to forget about it. Great times.
I remember back in those times hearing a talk by then-Elder Nelson (I think it was a BYU devotional) in which he admonished the audience to not delay having children, citing the fact that he and his first wife had already had several children before he completed his surgical residency, long before they had a stable income or owned a home. Even as a TBM at the time I thought it reeked of privilege.
I’ve always hated Mother’s Day. While I have a good relationship with my own mom now, it was fraught with tension when I was younger, as was our entire home environment. As the oldest of 4, I felt it was my job to mediate between two parents who never should have married. My husband is the second of 6, and lived in poverty until he was old enough to get a job and leave the house. His parents were uneducated and wholly unable to care for the kids they had, but felt pressured to continue reproducing due to church teachings in the 70’s. His mom even felt guilt over having a necessary hysterectomy in the early 80’s, because she would be unable to have more children, even though they could not properly care for the 6 they already had.
As an adult, Mother’s Day took an an added layer of pain when we were diagnosed with infertility and spent the next 15 years trying desperately to have a family. Few things can make an infertile Mormon woman feel worse than the constant pedestalization of mothers. My experience with infertility has been the primary driver of my disaffection from the church, because honestly, there’s no place for non-mother women in the church. We’re unable to fill most leadership positions due to our sex, we’re unable to produce the next generation of loyal tithe-payers, and we’re not a good example of the reductive, ideal Mormon woman church leadership wants to present.
And while I love my mom and try hard to be grateful for the women in my life on Mother’s Day, I still just hate it. My mom (and grandmother before she died) require a lot of effort and work on my part. I spend a lot of time each week, month, and year taking care of her needs. Same for my mother-in-law. But, because of this stupid holiday, we have to engage in an added day of pageantry, gifts, gratitude, service, etc. So, to me, Mother’s Day is yet another holiday (like Christmas) where I have to run around getting gifts, planning meals, etc. in a way that will never be reciprocated for me as an infertile woman. And I know the point of service is not reciprocation, but it’s still an emotional load to bear with no end in sight.
familywomen: I should clarify that while I think “Church is for children,” I agree with you that the services are not catered to the needs of wriggling toddlers or even curious teens. The community is more what I meant, that kids find friends there who bond together in their weirdness, and parents find support like babysitters they believe they can trust (whether true or not). And the lack of depth in the teachings is also somewhat geared toward children.
JCS: Obvious satire, of course, but I will point out that while my own kids didn’t share a room (touche on that one), my sister and I did while we were growing up, and I was the youngest of 7. Several of us sisters had to share bedrooms which was more common at the time. It also wasn’t regulated. You could make a bedroom without a window or closet in it if you were creative. My brother’s bedroom was so small the double bed barely wedged in on both sides. My best friend lived in a house built in 1860, so no closets at all, and her sister’s bedroom could only be reached by walking through hers. The podcast pointed out that regulations like car seats have caused family sizes to lower, but housing regulations that improve safety doubtless create other problems with trying to wedge kids into sleeping spaces we would now deem unsafe. When my 12 year old sister was mad at me (I was 5), she made a line down the middle of our bedroom with masking tape and told me if I crossed the line, she would beat me up. Unfortunately, her bed was on the side that had the door, so if I wanted to enter or leave our bedroom, I had to climb out the window and walk across the garage roof to the back yard, even in the snow.
Bob Cooper: When we traveled in China in 2012, we met a family in their hutong home in Beijing which was very interesting. They had a teen daughter who lived with them, so “one child policy,” but the mother and I discovered that we were both the youngest of seven children, six of whom were girls. I found that fascinating, that we would have such a similar upbringing, yet so different an experience in our own lives (my three kids were with me on this trip). China really put the brakes on with that horrible policy, but they felt they were facing famine and disaster. I am not justifying what they did, but it was believed to be necessary, even if it wasn’t. She found the policy very oppressive, but like most people in China, she followed the law and lived her life.
Jack Huges said: “I’m indifferent about Mother’s Day. Though its nice to show some appreciation to mothers, they can’t seem to manage to do it at church in a way that isn’t patronizing or marginalizing to someone. The most meaningful celebrations for Mother’s Day happen privately at home, anyway, so perhaps church isn’t the place for it at all. Ditto for Father’s Day.”
This. And I feel the same about the way we “honor” Mothers on social media every second Sunday in May. If you love them that much, tell them to their face and please leave my feed be.
My wife loves Mother’s Day Sundays – but that’s because one of the mother’s day traditions in our family is that I take the kids to church and She stays home and does something that she enjoys (watches a good movie, sleeps, goes for a hike, etc…). I always get strange looks from others when they ask why she’s not at church and I give an honest answer. She’s pretty adamant that a Sunday off of church is much better than a piece of chocolate for going to church. I support her in that.
There is a crucial balance when it comes to fertility. Too many kids can, in the aggregate sense, lead to strains on resources, excessive pollution, overcrowding, etc. But the plus side is that you have a young labor force that can bring about high productivity (particularly in agricultural work), not always the case, but it is a possible. Another downside of too many kids per female is a massive strain on individuals, particularly females, themselves. Females are overloaded with work for children, and men are expected to bring home high incomes. Many kids go neglected, assume parental responsibilities at young ages. Child labor is common. Many have to fend for themselves at early ages. Too many children per female often means reduced professional opportunities. But cultures with low education rates for women simply tend to protect fewer women’s rights and have higher numbers of children. They are also cultures that place lots of health risks on females, and make it so that females have much lower life expectancies. The poorest countries have the highest fertility rates.
The flip side. Too few kids means an aging population, decreases of productivity, and looming economic decline. People need to repopulate for the sake of their economies. If they aren’t repopulating, then they need to accept increasing numbers of young immigrants (I’m looking at you Eastern Europe). Life expectancies are bound to go down in places such as Germany, Italy, and South Korea, which have aging populations, for demand for health care will inevitably go up while supplies for health care will be strained. At least Germany and Italy are accepting immigrants and naturalizing them as German and Italian citizens. South Korea and Japan, on the other hand, are facing some serious demographic crises unless they have more kids or accept more immigrants. Extremely few non-Koreans and non-Japanese are able to become citizens. Not good. This needs to change.
On the church obsession with fertility: two main reasons. Early Mormons settled the Mountain West in the mid 1800s. In order to survive, they needed agricultural productivity. They placed heavy emphasis on reproduction to increase those farmhands. Of course, back then, this trend wasn’t too different from the rest of the US, which was largely rural and agricultural and where most communities needed increased output, and therefore labor, to build surpluses and wealth. Second, the church strongly sought, and continues to seek, to increase its own numbers, and the easiest way to do this is by having its faithfuls reproduce quickly and plentifully. It is harder to convert adults, and simply easier to raise kids to be active, believing members. Additional reasons include the church’s strong patriarchal culture, which discourages female education and independence. Also, the church leaders are uncomfortable with the college gap and fear that they can’t fully control college-age kids and therefore encourage them to marry young and begin having kids young thereby decreasing their independence, making them more reliant on the church community, and making them less likely to leave the church. Possible estrangement from spouse and kids offer an incentive to keep adults from thinking too much and questioning church teachings.
The church has everything to gain from preaching fertility. It acquiesces from time to time on questions of female independence and equality, but has long frowned on it and continues to do so.
“Do they [the Church] put their money where their mouth is with support for families?”
Absolutely not. You can see why the Church is such a good bedfellow of the fundamentalist Christians who are trying to ban abortion and now maybe birth control. They’re deeply committed to patriarchy, which means making sure women aren’t making unsupervised (by men) decisions about their reproductive and sexual behavior, but any concern ends at the birth of a child. Once you’re there, you’re on your own. In the Church, male leadership imagines that child care, both at church, and in general, will just kind of “happen” without their intervention. Meaning women will do it and men won’t worry themselves about it. Ditto for the financial support. The Church’s insistence on flat rate tithing amounts to a regressive tax, so it’s far harder on the poor than the well-off. Not to mention its push for SAHMs and single-income households. Who does this hurt when divorce or early death happens? Typically women, so the Church isn’t interested. In sum, there’s tons of pressure to have kids, but zero support for actually raising them.
Also, I hate Mother’s Day. Once I realized it typically boils down to Enforcement of Divine Gender Roles Day, I understood why it was so distasteful to me. It’s beloved in the Church for being a great day to pedestalize women and for men in authority to pat themselves on the back for not oppressing women like the wicked world. And once they’ve done this day of pedestalizing, they’re off the hook for even having to pretend to acknowledge women for another year.
Sorry my take is so cynical. I know there are men, even in leadership, who are trying to do better. But on the whole the Church’s patriarchal system continues largely as it always has, with only cosmetic tweaks around the edges.
An interesting element related to this topic is patriarchal blessings, and how ubiquious it is for patriarchs to promise a great, rightous posterity on those receiving the blessing. Maybe anecdotal, but I have friends who were promised that they’d have a brood of lovely little sunbeams, but ultimately experienced insurmountable fertility problems,which began their process of questioning the church and ultimately ended up leaving.
I was dating a girl before I went on my mission, and in a misplaced moment of youthful romance, we shared some of the details of our patriarchal blessings with each other. She became genuinely concerned and noticably anxious and disconcerted that mine didn’t mention anything about children, and only got over it after speaking to her bishop about how patriarchal blessings work.
Seemingly, there’s a general expectation that patriarchs will make this promise, but potentially it’s quite cruel to include as a blanket element when fertility issues are so common.
I know DHO recently has encouraged larger families. Perhaps worried about stagnating Church growth in the US and other developed countries. When my granddaughter got off her mission, her MP encouraged her to get married ASAP. A message her parents and I tried to mute. She waited a couple of years.
The problem with all this is Africa (and other developing areas), where the Church membership is growing rapidly, has a serious problem with oversized families. The Church leaders need to remember that they are a global church. The problems in developing countries are much different from those in the US. Perhaps encouraging members to have only the number of children they can reasonably expect to afford is better advice.
@Hawkgrrrl asks: “Am I correct in thinking that at least 75% of actual mothers have very mixed feelings about Mother’s Day?”
I suppose I am part of the 25% that doesn’t have mixed feelings. I absolutely hate Mother’s Day. And Mormon Mother’s Day is the worst. I’m equal opportunity, though. I dislike Father’s Day, too. Both days make me feel as though I have been somehow cheated as a child, and have failed as a parent.
My husband and (now adult) children know I am completely uninterested in Mother’s Day. Why should I care that someone tells me they love me on a day when it is essentially required? I’m very honest that I believe I am loved because of the way they treat me on the other days of the year. I suppose it also helps that the years of infertility followed by adoption have left me largely indifferent to our cultural/Church expectations. I honestly believe that I was blessed with infertility, even though it was definitely one of my hardest blessings. It was definitely a blessing in my life that we had to think seriously about whether or not we wanted children and how many we might want or be able to raise. I’m also blessed that infertility has meant I don’t feel a need to be defensive when our answer was that we wanted two children, but not more.
That said, the song Love at Home is nauseating! I told our ward music director that I was not going to play it this year.
I am ambivalent to Mother’s Day. Some women relish being a mother and all that entails and if they enjoy being showered with praise and gifts, so be it. My relationship with motherhood is fraught. While I love and cherish my own children, I do not like the children of other people with few exceptions. I’m keenly aware of what sacrifices I made to stay home with my kids. I like the recognition that I’m in the trenches doing the hard work. But I’d rather it be from the people I’m doing the work for and not from people who have no idea how I really feel about Motherhood.
My parents are each one of three. Small families for the times. My mom was born the first year of the Boomer generation. I was one of four, average to small for Utah in the 70s. And I and two siblings each have three. My sister married late in life and has no children. My husband is one of seven. My son predicts that his generation, Z, will have very few children at all. Who would want to bring a child into a world like this? I will be pleasantly surprised if any of my kids have children, but I’m not expecting any at this point.
Who knows, perhaps Mother’s Day celebrations will end with me.
And to Codeye, Maybe I should have heeded my PB more closely when it turned apocalyptical and talked of a dying world and had less/no children.
My worst Mother’s Day was one I had when on vacation with my parents. My parents are “go to church even when on vacation” Mormons, and so we visited the local ward on that Sunday, which happened to be Mother’s Day. At the time I was in my mid-thirties, unmarried and child-free. The speaker rehashed some talk from the 1970s full of all the pedestalization and gender-essentialism you could dream up. There was probably some stuff in there about how women shouldn’t work and such, too. But because we were visitors, it would have been rude to get up and walk out, and so I instead just dug my fingernails into my palms and clenched my teeth and seethed silently.
I’m now married (to a non-member and still without children), and so I’m still pretty useless in the church’s eyes. I always hated when they gave a token flower or chocolate or whatever to all women because we were “future” or “potential” or “eternal” mothers. Nope, not a mother, and I somehow didn’t get that “innate” desire for children that I was told I should have. I’ve never fit into what the church thinks a woman should be.
This is just one more example of the church trying to tell us exactly how we should live our lives without recognizing the vast spectrum of people’s aptitudes, desires, and personalities. Not everyone is suited to being a parent. Not everyone is suited to being in the workforce. Not everyone’s life circumstances lead them to follow the specific path laid out for us, and even for those who do, it’s not always what’s best for them. I suppose being so different from what was preached made it easier for me to reject things that I knew would bad for me personally, but there were still years of horrible Young Women’s lessons that I had to pretend to agree with.
As we’ve seen very clearly in the past couple of weeks, letting a bunch of old men make life choices for women is not a way to have a happy, successful, and peaceful society.
Several years ago a couple of YW advisors didn’t show up to teach one Sunday. My husband was in the bishopric. He and I visited the teacherless classes. I don’t think the girls minded being on their own, though.
Husband asked questions to get them thinking about what kind of man they wanted to marry. I asked about what subjects interest them now, what kinds of things they might study in college, and what jobs might interest them.
Husband has come a long way, still room for growth.
DHO is (or at least was) on the board of an organization (World Congress of Families) that blatantly just wants white Christian people to have children, not brown people / immigrants / muslims. So … yeah, I don’t think it’s so much about population zero as preserving white Christian culture / families.
It seems like many GA’s grew up in what they perceived as idyllic homes with self-sacrificing mothers and they feel like that’s a blueprint to happiness. Well, we never hear from their mothers so I’m not really sure how they felt about it. Not to mention that was just a very different time in our history / culture / economy. They want everyone to have what they did without realizing that one size does not fit all. And I have to wonder even about their families being idyllic – I know a lot of families where some siblings seem to have a COMPLETELY different perception of the family growing up, some thinking it was perfect and idyllic and some having an awful time. So again, you just can’t impose your experience and perceptions on everyone globally when you lived only a slice of what life’s experiences can be. But our GA’s carry on doing so.
The point about children making fathers but not mothers happy is candidly quite chilling to me.