Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ambition

Last year my book group read Anne of Green Gables. We had a surprisingly lovely discussion. I say surprising because I was amazed at the depth we found in that much beloved volume when looking for something more than just a story. As the evening wrapped up, I remember posing one last question that wasn't addressed thoroughly because of time and inclination, but it is something I've often thought about.

Now that I'm serving with the Young Women, it is something I've been thinking about again.

You remember the Anne books. Anne is so bright, committed and highly competitive. She wins awards, honors and acclamation from her peers and professors. Marilla and Mathew are so proud of her efforts which put her right on par with the male counterparts in her class. In the second book she teaches, in the third book she goes to college and in the fourth book she is the principal of a school while Gilbert becomes a doctor. Anne is probably 23-ish by the time she marries. Pretty much spinster-age in that time period.

And then, boom! Anne marries, takes no thought to ever teach again, keeps house for Gilbert (brilliantly I might add, there is little that the red-head cannot do), and waits to have a baby.

Each year Anne says goodbye to her crop of kiddies, and is properly regretful to see them go, but there is no indication that she regrets leaving her classroom teaching behind for good. She moves into her house o' dreams with nary a backward glance and becomes as perfect a mother as she was a teacher. I'll tell you how my own experience feels after I pose my question.

How do we teach our girls to be ambitious and to work hard, while still instilling a desire for motherhood? Or, conversely, how to we nurture their desire to have children and stay at home with them and simultaneously encourage them to set academic and career goals?

Right now I have a group of young women who want to be mothers, at least for the most part. For some of them, though, this supersedes all else. Too many of them express indifference to their school work and classes, and little desire to go to college or have no interest in any career path when they get there. I see lots of untapped potential in the way they are approaching their lives.

Our YW president recently read a book called "Do Hard Things." It is about modern youth and their laziness in response to how convenient and entertaining their lives are. I had one of our most spiritual and sweetest girls tell me the other day, in response to something I told her about door-knocking on my mission, "I could never do that." Her brother just left on his mission, but I'm wondering why she thinks this hard thing is just something for her brother to do? Why isn't a mission something she might keep her mind open toward? And for all that several of them have expressed a desire to be stay at home moms, some of them have told me without flinching that when they babysit they don't do diapers. We have to teach our kids to do hard things. To love hard things. What does Tom Hanks say in A League of Their Own when Geena Davis tells him that baseball just go too hard? "It's the hard that makes it great." I have also often heard young women say, "I don't want to go on a mission; I want to get married." Where does this false dichotomy come from? Serving a mission doesn't rule out marriage, any more than staying home from a mission guarantees a spouse. Or "I don't plan to work, I'm going to be a mom." What if you don't get married until you are 30?

The last several young women who have graduated from high school in my ward come back to visit from time to time--each of them seem without anchor in their way. They don't seem driven by anything that makes them want to jump out of bed each morning and just grab life by the horns. They are wishing so desperately for Prince Charming to come along that they seem to have forgotten to take the lead role in their own lives.

I was not like Anne. I didn't jump in to keeping house head first; I was busy keeping my head above water at my first middle school job. On our first anniversary we moved far away to take a job for Plantboy. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, one that couldn't be passed up, and we knew it was the right move. But I left a job I loved, and I walked away from a valuable professional opportunity that would have led to some very interesting graduate opportunities for me.

As the kids came along and times got very lean, I always worked part time--tutoring, writing curriculum, supplemental instructor in the schools, and whatever I could get my hands on. My hubby worked for the Church, and although the benefits, both spiritual and physical, were fantastic, the pay was lousy. When we approached our five year mark with LDS employment, Plantboy felt that it was time to go back to school. Though I was entirely supportive, I have to admit to being surprised at the turn our life took. I thought I'd be the one to go back first.

When Plantboy went back to school we made a very prayerful decision for me to work full time, and met with mild criticism from very surprising places. Thankfully, my family was always supportive of our decision, my parents especially. We were blessed--I had a wonderful job just 10 minutes from campus, was home by three every day, and most of Plantboy's classes were afternoon and evening. We had very little babysitting in the two years we spent back at school. Baby #3 was the biggest leap of faith either of us had ever taken we were blessed again both with his birth and presence in our family as well as a job opportunity we never had anticipated.

Now with all of this, I want to point out something very important. It is true that when I have worked (nearly always), we have done it primarily from necessity. But there is something more: I really like it.

Scratch that. I love it.

I love my children too, and they are absolutely my priority right now. If they weren't, I'd be teaching during the day instead of delivering papers at 3:30 every morning. When I worked full time while Plantboy was in school, it was hard, but I was grateful every day to be at a job I loved so much, even if it meant I had to be away from home.

Some days back I was standing in a group of women talking about mothering and those little things you do day in and day out a million times over. I don't think anybody was really complaining, just observing. One friend said, "Just think, if you worked, you'd miss out on making those lunches every day." She didn't mean to be sarcastic, but it sounded a bit that way. A couple of people in the group jumped on the tone, affirming how much they loved doing it and so on and so on.

Now, my own working experience was not having to drop kids off at daycare somewhere. I knew they were home being exceptionally well-cared for by Plantboy. Still, when everybody finished re-affirming how much happier they were at home than at work I couldn't help but say how much I had enjoyed working, and how much more centered I felt when I came home to my little ones each afternoon, ready to be a parent full time and enjoy their company.

Talk about being able to hear a pin drop.

The stay-at-home-mom thing in LDS circles is like being a Republican. Everybody just assumes that everybody is in complete agreement, even if there might be lots of different opinions in the room. My mom always worked (part time, as a nurse) and was always active in the church. I was never raised to see a conflict between working and mothering, nor was I raised to think that earning money was the sole province of the father.

Here is the thing: if women have the means and the desire to stay home I think it's wonderful. When I see sisters take a leap of faith to quit work and do full time childcare I think it's awesome. (I think it's not so awesome to listen to a handful of these same women spend much of their time complaining about money, however.) I think that men and women with testimonies need to do all they can to follow the prophet's counsel, but it might just be that there are times you have to choose which counsel to follow. When Plantboy went back to school we chose self-reliance over mom staying home. There was no way to pick both. Did we make the right decision? I think so. We certainly don't regret it.

I'm not so delusional as to think I can have it all, but I've always seen myself going back to work one day. Yes, yes, the money will be nice. My working might allow Plantboy to really pursue a career he dreams about though the pay is lower. A house with more space would be nice: I had that recurring dream again this week where I discover a secret door leading to a part of the house I didn't know existed, like something straight from a JK Rowling novel. Being able to sock a little bit more each month into our savings would be a relief. A current teaching certification would be a fantastic life insurance policy.

All of these are great reasons, but at the end of the day I think the main reason I see myself working, is just that I like it. I'm good at it. Classroom teaching is really the one thing I feel like I have a clear talent for. It isn't just a job or a career for me, it is a passion. It's a gift. The thought of never going back makes me feel like a bucket of cold water has been dumped on my head.

In recent months I've heard people say the following, "Well, STM, maybe it's time to find a new passion." "We would never even consider a loan just for the wife's education" "Can't you just teach your children or at church?" While each person might have a point, none of these things sit all that well with me.

These thoughts have been on my mind partly because of my young women, but also because of something else: as my family gets older and busier, my tutoring is interfering too much with family life. Our afternoons are crazy and I feel like we are all in a mild state of disarray on the days I tutor. Add a night of YW into the mix and well, it is just too much. We are at a crossroads. Or maybe an impasse.

So next year I'm giving it up. But we still need some additional income, so I'll be keeping the paper route. As I prepare to sacrifice the job I love (tutoring) for the one I often hate (papers), I know it's for the good of our family. But I keep watching and waiting for the time when what is for the good of our family will allow mom to get a master's degree. When the good of our family will send me back to the classroom. When there is an outlet for my abilities that doesn't exist right now.

With my sons, this whole question of ambition is so cut and dried--mission, college, marriage, career, family. There is an order to things with boys, and there isn't quite so much choosing. I'm not so naive to think that my boys won't feel conflicted at times and that the path ahead will not always be smooth sailing, but with girls the way is much less plain. Even when grown women have babies and a husband and a home the way is not so plain.

As I look around at the many remarkable and talented women I know, I'm amazed at the things you've sacrificed to become mothers. Of course, the blessings of motherhood outweigh the sacrifice, but it doesn't make the giving up any less real or painful. It might even be this sacrifice, in part, that makes motherhood so great. I admire the courage of the great women I know--you mothers for what you've exchanged for your children; you single-tons for the zeal you put into your careers and extended families; and childless friends for making the unexpected twists in your lives a matter of optimism.

I want the young women I know to feel this burning commitment inside so deeply that regardless of the hand life deals them, they want to go all in. I want every possible door to be open to them because of the preparation and sacrifices they have made. I want them to get on their knees when it is time to make choices. I want them to be women that men look up to and not just look at. I want them to do hard things.

But perhaps this is too ambitious . . .

27 comments:

april said...

I believe the odds are that 70% of todays young women will be the sole financial support for their families at some point in their lives. That is a good enough reason to be ambitious, but personal satisfaction is another. Though there are days that you feel conflicted, I have seen that because you conciously gave up a career for your kids, you are intensly more aware of being a good mother and being in the moment with them. If motherhood is all you have it can be just inertia...floating along without direction. Now, I have some known some mothers who have made motherhood a career, but they are very educated and ambitious in that. Besides, it is a commandment from our prophets. Good luck installing that in your YW though. I had to move to ensure that my own girls weren't infected by the prevailing winds!

Jenny said...

You need to TELL them! As passionately as you just posted this. (And it was wonderful.) I'm reading an unspoken assumption by young women that marriage would be far more blissful and easy than serving a mission, getting a higher education or having a career. WRONG. The pursuit of any of those things is HARD. And whether or not they end up being the final destination, they are a means of growing to be able to handle the hardest challenge of all: MARRIAGE. Too many young women rush around looking for that perfect boyfriend, marry him, and then wonder why life suddenly got so hard. Relationships are rewarding, but just like exercise: it takes a build-up of endurance and they need regular work-outs. As the mother of three young women, this post serves as a poignant and important reminder.
As for you, STM, if work is what you love, you are wise to hang on to it. Don't let the true 'you' be erased in the process of raising the next generation. Be your own batman. Empower yourself, and be the YW leader who teaches the YW to empower themselves. To explore the possibilities. Dare to dream. WORK. It's a true principle.
Wish there were more women in charge of young women, like YOU.

FoxyJ said...

I imagine that they are looking to motherhood because it is the default choice, just as the default choice for men is mission/career/parenthood. And just because it is the default choice does not make it wrong. At the same time though, just because they are desiring to be mothers doesn't mean that they can't do anything else. It is perfectly reasonable to do other things and still be a mom; you have to have your own personality and interests, even if they don't include working outside the home for money. What do their moms do? Maybe if they were aware of their own mom's interests and choices they might be able to fully see them as 'human' and not just 'mom'. The older I get the more I realize that the greatest temptation in life, for me and my kids, is to avoid hard work and hard choices. It's scary to have to be in charge of your life and to make choices for yourself. Much easier to let someone else do it.

My mom went back to school for her bachelor's degree when my youngest brother started kindergarten. I was starting Junior High and I hated it. She took mostly evening classes, since that was what was available. My dad had a job that took him away a lot, so I often ended up being in charge of doing things like cooking dinner and taking care of my younger siblings. Then she started teaching and I think we were all resentful of the attention that was not placed on us--she'd come home and talk about her students all the time. I think it's because we were all teenagers and resentful of everything, plus there were some other issues going on in my family as well (dad constantly gone, moving a lot, etc). Now, however, I've matured a lot and I'm glad that she was willing and able to do such a hard thing. Plus she was able to help pay for missions, and now they are the 'fun' grandparents who can afford to visit and take us on fun trips that we can't afford ourselves. As a teenager, though, the last thing I wanted to do was grow up and be a teacher like my mom.

I have no idea where this comment is going, just because I've never felt very ambitious. I think part of it is just personality--I don't get passionate about a lot of things. I also realize that my parents didn't really raise us to see the power of our choices. The prevailing attitude in my home was that things just happened and you had little control over your life. My parents were a good example of working hard, but they rarely sat me down and discussed things like future plans and goals with us. I have no idea how you can do that with your YW. But I think you should. Even if they eventually want to be a SAHMs, they still need a personality and something they care about.

FoxyJ said...

One more thing, I think there is an unfortunate attitude that I've run into in the church (and elsewhere) that the only two choices are between staying at home all the time and the stereotypical "career woman" who works 40+ hours a week with her kids in daycare. I wish we could change that, because in the real world there are so many other varied choices and things for women to do. I know women who are nurses or occupational therapists who work a few shifts a month; I know women who are designers and artists and work from their homes; I know women who don't work for pay, but do things like write or edit or volunteer. I think some of your YW are probably afraid that they can't do it all (and as you're finding out, you can't do it all or all at the same time), but you can do some of it. I know that as a YW I had no idea what my passions were or what I wanted to do with my life, but I think that if we'd had more activities about discovering my own talents and personality instead of making lists of what I want in a future spouse, that would have helped.

BTW--I think that activities like cooking or sewing don't have to be eliminated. These are important life skills that need to be learned, whether you're single or married. We just don't always have to frame them as 'future homemaker' activities.

Karin said...

I would love to leave a witty comment to add to the wonderfulness of your post, but I'm just not as eloquent as you. :-) That's okay, I have other gifts.

I often wonder the same things and felt unprepared for motherhood and STAHM-ing because ambition was a given in my family.

Sequencing and seasons in life are valid. I love the volunteer work that I do and if someday I could get paid for it, all the better. :-) The thing I like about volunteering is that you can cut back anytime you need to and pick it back up when you have the energy/time/inclination.

This was an excellent post and your YW are fortunate to have you to "plant seeds".

Janssen said...

There is so so much to say about this post - I wish they would read it aloud in General Conference.

It breaks my heart to hear about your young women not thinking about careers or having no interest in doing hard things.

It has been a great source of self-worth to me to find a career path I love (if I can get a job in it, so much the better. . . ) and to have provided single-handedly for our family for nearly two years now.

And, like you say, you just can't know how life is going to turn out, even if you DO get married early. What if you can't have kids right away - will you stay at home for three or four years just waiting for a positive pregnancy test? What if your husband has a lot of school left and doesn't want to have children until he's done? What if YOU don't want to have children right away? What if your husband loses his job? What if, what if?

And then, of course, like you say, what if you miss out entirely on the joy of finding something you are good at and love?

Nerd Goddess said...

You always have such good thoughts on difficult subjects, and then I can never think of anything intelligent to add!

I have noticed the trend you are talking about, both when I was in YW and now that friends and acquaintances are getting married.

I don't understand how members of the church can have the opinion that education for women isn't as important those for men, when so much focus is put on the YW for getting one. There was never any question for me that pursuing that goal was important, and I'm happy to have a husband that agrees with me. In his words (after reading bits of your post to him) "I'm not better than you just because I have a penis."

It seems to me, though, that sometimes we feel that way, and it's hard to get out of that mentality, even for people who are pursuing careers.

Best of luck to you as you continue to find balance, and I hope that you get your goal of teaching again! :)

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I love you all so much. There are tears in my eyes as I read your comments. I posted this very late last night at the tail end of a difficult week that culminated in a head cold. I worried that I might sound as though I was denigrating motherhood and the very real and difficult skills that go with it. But, like true friends, you understood both my words and the intent behind them.

You are each so unique, and your perspectives are so valuable to me. Thank you a million times over for taking a few minutes for me today.

emandtrev said...

STM, thanks so much for this post. I thoroughly enjoyed it and agree with previous posters that you really have a gift for eloquence.

When I was the Laurel advisor, I felt like I was always hammering them about education or doing something that they are truly passionate about to develop their minds, interests, etc. I don't know if it made a tangible impact, but I hope it helped someone somewhere along the way.

It is super difficult sometimes to balance everything that goes on in life. It is nice to know other women out there that are compassionate, supportive, and understanding of the fact that not every LDS woman or mother (or situation!) is the same.

Thanks! You are tops! :)

mstanger said...

It hasn't gained the wide circulation I would hope, but Elder Samuelson's talk to female BYU Students in the Math, Science & Eng'g departments should be required reading: http://cpms.byu.edu/speeches/family-education-careers

Melanie said...

You always bring up such good issues, and this is one that I'm particularly passionate about.

I believe that education is NECESSARY to motherhood. You don't get an education in case you never get married, you get an education in order to be an enlightened, interesting, satisfied person, which in turn makes you a better spouse and parent.

It's like President Samuelson said in the talk linked above - there's no way to have it all. Every path requires sacrifices.

I was just the opposite of your YW. I never said that I didn't want to be a mother, but I always thought to myself "what if staying home with babies isn't enough for me? What if I WANT a career?" It took until about the time I turned 25 before I really started to desire full time motherhood with my whole heart. As I've gone through these past several years trying to find a career that is satisfying and fulfilling, I've come to the realization that there really is no greater work for a woman than motherhood.

So I guess my point is that each of our "lacks" or sacrifices have taught us to really value what we can't have at the moment. I don't think there's anything wrong with desiring more--it gives us something to work towards, something to dream about, something to aspire to. As long as we recognize the blessing of today, why not reach toward a better tomorrow?

tamathy said...

That was a fabulous post. You bring up so many important questions. I wish we could have an enrichment meeting focused on this topic.

I think what inspired me most as a YW growing up in a rural area in a small branch was the exposure I was given to the larger world. I remember every time I got to visit a university campus from elementary on. I loved campuses and still do. I remember every play, concert, art exhibit, and lecture my parents, teachers and church leaders got me to.
I grew up in Mo and after they built the Chicago temple and we started making youth temple trips we got to go to the art and science museums after attending the temple. That was great in so many ways. Just visiting a big city is great for kids. I think going to the temple and then the museums helped me see the connection between different types of learning and progression and how important they all are and how they work together to make us complete. It also reinforced the idea that Heavenly Father wanted me to learn about everything- not just how to be a homemaker or even just what was in the scriptures, but about people and the world and how things work.
It was also very helpful to learn what women I knew had done besides be mothers and what they were doing and what they still planned to do. It was an eye opener to find out that a sister I knew had marched in D.C. for Civil Rights or traveled extensively or to find out that another sister was still working on her degree or training with the Red Cross so she could work internationally once her kids were grown. So many times the YW only see us at church or in one season of our lives. How can we show them we are more than what they see on Sundays so they don't limit their hopes for themselves?
Great post- I'll be thinking about this one for a while.

Nemesis said...

Hoooo boy. Yeah, I really, really wish that someone had tried to tell me when I was a Laurel that my life just might not follow the "What, I'm going to get married right away and be a mom because that's best" plan. And that if it didn't, it might be nice for me to be able to fill the days, months, and years with educational and professional opportunities that could be engaging and affirming. But nobody was saying that (aside from my mom, and I didn't listen to her because I figured she was a convert and didn't really get it--lightning should have struck me for that one). Now it's just so frustrating to imagine that leaders ARE saying it to the YW and they're just not listening. I'm sure a good percentage of them will figure it out on their own when life starts happening, but I worry for the ones who just keep floating along in limbo, waiting for marriage and family to just show up.

Sweet Joys said...

I have always valued education and work. I absolutely love learning! I got married so young, and that's OK, but it changed my work and schooling plans. When I got married, I had a really good job as a department manager and merchandise buyer for a regional company. I traveled around the country for work at 19 and 20 years old! I felt important and needed and I loved it. Then my hubby transferred down to the U of U, so I had to leave the college I loved. Then, after our first child was born, both he and I quit our jobs...he quit to go to grad school, and I quit the job I loved and school to be a full time mom. It was one of the hardest things we have ever done. The money was so tight, but we both knew that what we were doing what was right for us. I don't regret any of it.

I am so blessed to have a husband who makes a good living. I have never gone back to work, and we can afford the things we need, even some of the things we want. But I do miss working and going to school. I really enjoyed doing both...because of growth, and because of personal fulfillment. I believe that doing something for yourself betters yourself IF you keep everything balanced and in the right perspective. My own mother left me as a toddler because her job was just too important to let her kids get in the way. Oh, how that hurt! But I think you can have a career or get an education and it will make you a better wife and mother.

After being a mom for 12 years now, I'm finally going back to school. My P. blessing talks about getting an education and so I always knew it would come, I just had to be patient. I don't regret postponing my dreams to help my husband get his education. And I certainly don't regret leaving my career and schooling to become a mother. It is my greatest dream of all.

Slyck and Slim said...

You have a good head on your shoulders, but most important is your ability to feel and following the promptings of the Spirit. Each individual and their circumstances are different. There are times in our lives when we are prompted to go "upstream" and also times when it is right to go with the flow. Education to prepare us for the unseen and also for the hoped for is always right. I am sorry that you have felt judged at times, but I see your open mind and heart in trying not to judge those who may be alarmed at your stance. We are all just trying to do the right thing in our own lives and can't possibly know all the circumstances and personal feelings of others around us. It is best to quietly go about doing the right thing for our own circumstances while sincerely praying for personal guidance. When I was at a crossroads in my life where I had to choose whether or not to pursue a certain profession that would seriously hamper the possibility of being the kind of mother I had always hoped I would be, a well meaning individual wrote me a seething letter. It criticized me for throwing my gifts and talents away; children could and should wait. I kept that letter that I will someday show my children to let them know the conscious and calculated decision I made for them. Any regrets? None whatsoever. I followed what I knew was right for me at that time. Was it the last time I worked? No. There were other talents that surfaced which allowed me to supplement our income for years after. You are right to be encouraging your Young Women to think differently about their futures. The Lord doesn't want us to be complacent. Keep sharing your light and perspectives with humility and understanding and you will be an influence for good and right on those impressionable young ladies.

Sherry said...

I have so much to say about this that I am just going to email you.

Z. Marie said...

Wonderful post. I've thought a lot about such things over the past few years. I'm very thankful I made the decisions I did to go to college and to get the jobs I did (before and after getting married at the ripe old age of 26).
And now, 10 years later, life isn't the way I'd imagined it would be. What? I only have (almost) two kids? I worked full time for years so we could better afford for my (not-so-young) husband to go to law school? I agreed to move my family to a Third World country?
We never know what's going to happen. I think I knew that as a teenager, but this definitely isn't where I planned on ending up. One of the great things about being young is having options. We -- you and others as YW leaders but also all of us who have/know/influence teenagers -- need to drive that point home every chance we get.

Brian and Courtni said...

i don't think i can even attempt to add on to the comments, but it is definitely something i feel strong about as well. do you think it leads back to your post about it being a parenting problem? i grew up with a full time working mom (teacher)--she never planned on working once she had kids, but due to circumstances outside of my parent's control, it was just a blessing that she had a degree and a skill. the best part was that even though she would have loved to be at home, she loved (and still loves) what she is doing. i truly never once thought that my mom missed out on anything or wasn't able to support me in everything. i also grew up with parents telling me to get an education REGARDLESS of what else came my way. i can't imagine the fear i would have if i thought that if something happened and i had to be working that i didn't have a skill to fall back on. in this day and age, girls HAVE to be prepared for anything. and i pray that i can instill that in my little girl!

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Monday night when i posted this I was in a drug-induced zombie state with an icky head cold. I came back the next day, hoping that I'd said anything coherent or relevant.

I guess so.

The guest blogger at Segullah today wrote a post called "Your Mom Goes to College!" and there are already 70 comments about the same things we've been talking about here.

As I've read through everyone's comments and my own post again, I think at the heart of it, what I am trying to say is that life presents all kinds of unexpected challenges. I want young women in the Church to be prepared spiritually and physically to meet these challenges with GUSTO. It isn't just that I want them to do hard things (whatever those things may be), it is that I want them to love whatever comes there way, knowing that while their circumstances may not always be ideal, their attitude and their approach to each circumstance is 100% their choice.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

PS And Sherry's email was awesome. She should have thrown the whole thing up here. Edited or not, Sherry. ;)

Christie said...

Girl, you are so great! You've said many of the same things that I continue to feel as an achiever who is an at-home mom. And I'm in YW too. In fact, I hope it's okay, but I'm planning to cut and paste your beginning remarks about doing hard things into an e-mail for my YW. They need to hear that. And they need to hear it often!

I've got plans to substitute teach this fall and to pursue becoming an EFY instructor. (The EFY gig is my dream! I hope it happens.) And, yes, I feel that I'll still be a good mom. If momma aint happy, aint nobody happy. And this momma need mental stimulation. The big thing is to do like you and Plantboy did when he went back to school. You make it a matter of prayer and get the Lord's approval. He does NOT have a one-size-fits all plan for all woman-kind.

Thank goodness! Keep on being a great mom and you'll find there will be a season to teach and work again.

Rainie said...

I always love to hear your thoughts. Our ward is actually struggling with the opposite problem, they all want to be doctors, go on a mission and never get married. There's a fine line, definately gray and I think anything they want to do, they'll be able to justify it into being the right thing for them. Your ward is lucky to have someone like you.

Desmama said...

Everyone has had great thoughts. I've so enjoyed reading them. P.S. Do you want to guest blog at Segullah sometime? I'm on the staff there; I'll see if I can get you in if it's something you'd like to do.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Rainie--that is rough. I agree about the fine line bit. With the YW I try to be very careful about glamorizing single life or missionary service. No matter what part of your life you are in, there are goods and bad, challenges and triumphs. I had to admit, however, that your group of YW sound exactly like myself at that age. I'd like to say that means they'll turn out great, but what it might mean is that they'll be 34 and highly conflicted. ;)

I had a friend once say that as much as she hoped her boys went on missions, she hoped much more fervently that they had testimonies.

Desmama--Uh, yeah! I'll email you. I think I started linking there through Jenny and FoxyJ. I had no idea you were involved. Very cool.

simple easy and quick said...

Just a thought from a male perspective (Am I the only guy who semi-regularly reads Nomad’s bog?). Tell the girls that the best course for personal fulfillment and Eternal Companionship is to plan their life as if they will never be asked to get married. That means setting long-term goals, definitely getting an education (The Prophet said, ‘get as much education a possible,’ and he didn’t say that it only applied to the young men) Women should even consider a mission.

Now I’m not saying that they should avoid marriage, but what I am saying is that when that perfect companion comes along, (whether that’s immediately following High School, or after a mission) they will be so much better prepared for married life and all that goes along with it. Forgoing an education to ‘wait’ for a husband is not a good life strategy, while postponing education due to marriage, children, or other circumstances is acceptable. Also, in my book, a highly educated, returned missionary is way more fascinating and attractive, so the further down that path the YW go the better chance they have for marriage anyway (at least to the type of guy their parents are hoping and praying they find).

The decision to work outside the house is such a difficult one and is dependent on so many different factors, including the level of education, children, husband’s job, finances, etc. Luckily I have job that allows my wife to stay home with the kids. However, if that were to change there’s no question that the wife would return to work while I looked for a new job. Like Nomad, I would choose self-reliance over stay at home mom and mountains of debt.

One final comment on the value of education and work. Because my wife got a history degree from BYU, she was able to teach and support our family while I got my MBA, and a much better job. More importantly because my wife got a history degree, we are able to have the most fascinating discussions about important historical events, and how they relate to today’s world. Because my wife went on a foreign speaking mission, she’s fluent in Tagalog, which comes in extremely handy as she is the Relief Society President of the Dubai Ward where over 80% of the sisters are from the Philippines. The leadership skills she acquired in school and on a mission have come in very handy as she is extremely involved with the Dubai American Academy’s parent’s association.

Now, if my wife hadn’t finished college, worked for a few years, or gone on a mission, would I still love her? The answer is yes, since I loved her back in High School. Would our lives be as rich and fulfilling as they are now if we would have married straight after graduation? Absolutely Not!

Take care, interested to hear some more male feedback.

AmyJane said...

YOu always give me so much to think about. This week marks three years since I stepped out of my classroom, that I had filled for six years. Somedays I miss it terribly, other days I can't imagine going back. I think it's more that I try and visualize how I would do both, and since mothering fills up my days, I don't see a space for it. But I miss that space, that outlet, that drive, using those talents in those ways. Much to think about.

(Also, I thought of this dilemma often when working with the YW. It's a fine line. It really, really is.)

Anonymous said...

Nan,
I think it was President Faust who said something along the lines of woman being able to have it all, just not all at the same time. There are stages for each point in your life. I wouldn't trade the 16 years I stayed home with my kids for anything, but I wouldn't trade being back in the classroom either.

Marci