Something Beautiful or Humorous: Apples that Eli painted

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I don't wanna be anything other than me

"In the Church I believe there is a distinct need to develop confidence in the individual, not as he or she should fit into some culturally prescribed timeline but as he or she follows personal revelations from a loving Heavenly Father. It is important to have confidence that other people may be doing the right thing and to recognize that even when their lives look different, they have unique offerings we need." (Having Faith in God's Timeline March '07 Ensign)

I really liked this quote and I have noticed people commenting on this subject in different ways quite a few times in just the last several weeks. Recently, I've been able to notice that I need to let some things go in order to be a happier human being. I have a lot of diverse interests & I like to be a generalist, not a specialist. But during this time in my life, I have to specialize in being a mom & wife. Anything else- Martha Stewart type stuff, starting a business type stuff, becoming an amazing intellectual in many subjects, over-achieving in any way, and yes, even the way we do our church work has to take a back seat. And additionally, can we take this mom & wife thing too far? Ooh boy. We can & we do.

SOMEHOW Mormon culture says women have to:
  • say yes to everything
  • look like a super model
  • have the kids look like super models, too
  • win at least 1 beauty pageant
  • be skinny
  • get married before age 24
  • run at least 1 marathon
  • be crafty & creative
  • sing or play the piano like a pro
  • have pioneer ancestors and millions of photos and historic journals
  • give treats to our neighbors for every holiday
  • have more than 3 kids
  • kids & husbands are top leaders in church & community (eagle scout, class president, bishop, stake president, CEO, partner)
  • have kids doing calculus at 3, skipping grades, being in gifted & talented
  • put your kids in 10-20 extra-curricular activities each
  • bear your testimony every month
  • have an advanced degree and your own home business
  • get your own book published
  • do hand-outs, flyers, posters, treats
  • marry men who make millions
  • have gone to a church university & been in at least 1 traveling singing/dancing group
  • wear designer clothes
  • have a scrapbook that looks like it was published by a 5th Ave., NY agency
  • volunteer for every community occurrence (den mother, PTA president)
  • make every meal from scratch
  • have an immaculately clean & decorated home/yard
  • never yell
  • read/memorize the standard works
  • read/buy everything published by Deseret Book, especially the cute Primary handouts
  • have a year supply of food & water, 72 hour kit, generator, gas masks
  • bring your visiting teachees notes and poems every week
  • answer every email, send out 200 Christmas cards with photos & newsletters
  • never ask for help & if anyone tries to help you, refuse their help & do it all by your self
  • never ever let on that you have ANY problems, stresses, sicknesses or trials (keep them SECRET!)

I feel like we talk & joke about this being true. But do we ease up any on these standards? Amazingly, no. And because all this is somehow accidentally tied up with our religion, we think that we ALL have to do ALL of these things ALL of the time, and immediately. We set really high standards for ourselves. But when something goes wrong, and you don't measure up, it can really be brutal. You may judge yourself, others may judge you. But does God judge you?

As the church becomes more global, I am looking forward to the "culture" of the church changing and maybe all of us can accept that people (including they themselves) are very different individuals with different identities and missions to accomplish. I don't think God expects all those things of us. I doubt he even expects ANY of the things on that list.

What do you think? Do you have anything to add to that list?

After that big rant... there are still a lot of Happy Things! :)

  1. Mom to the rescue (I had a doozy of a problem this weekend, causing anxiety attacks, crying & crying. And it was all solved by a couple of phone calls to mom.)
  2. Wow- how good I slept after that problem was resolved.
  3. And a warm bath with bath salts & essential oil didn't hurt, either.
  4. Warmer weather. Eli & Chris have been flying kites. It's been a long time since I've seen Eli so happy.
  5. Prayer, scriptures, love from God & family


Jen W said...

I hear you, girlfriend! Luckily I am finally getting to a place in my life where I just don't much. I am fat, I didn't graduate from college, and I watch American Idol with religious fervor. I'm OK with that. Do you realize that you are on my list of amazing women that I hope I can be like someday? Hopefully, you can find your happy place soon. (If it's anyting like mine, it will include TV and Coke.)
Love ya, Jen

Jen Cardon said...

Isn't it funny how we want to be accepted for who we are, and yet, we often feel like we should be like what we percieve everybody else is like?

I believe we each came to Earth with a unique mission to fulfill, and if it really is unique, by nature, it would not likely be like everybody else! If we were all on the same program, meaning, we all marry same age, same time in life, have the same number and same kinds of children, we wouldn't really be unique!

I, also, don't like to be placed in a category! I don't want to be known as "Jen, the single woman!" But, a lot of people like to pair people with people who are the same! I mean, married people hang out with married people. And, didn't you know, singles should hang out with singles?! Heaven forbid that married people be friends with singles--or vice-versa. I rather like my friends of all different ages, phases, and circumstances in life. I think if broaden's my experience.

I'd say enjoy this phase of your journey, because, it is also part of your mission. When you look at the mission you served for the Church, chances are, not every mission companion was perfect, nor your favorite. Not every city or area was perfect nor your favorite--but, they were all part of your mission none the same! They also mattered!

I think sometimes we wish we were somewhere in the future of the journey, and, yet, the present is just as important as the future! Plus, the work you are doing now, is very important--and you matter in the lives of your family, friends, and faith. So, keep up the great work--it is part of your unique mission, and it is great!

Natalie C. said...

Jen w- you make me feel good. thank you. :)

Jen C.- that is my exact point. :) You know it.

Here is another comment I had about my own post:

[Someone had sent me a poem which is great along the same lines in the Dr. Seuss style ("I study the scriptures one hour each day. I bake, I upholster, I scrub and I pray... it's easy, she said, and then she dropped dead.") And this was my response:]

I have seen that poem. Love it. But I think the expectations are getting even higher because I think Mormon culture is adapting modern society's expectations & they get added in with all the church stuff we already worry about. Like materialistic expectations (you are not following the commandments if you are poor. You should be rich and have all the nicest stuff) & "looksism" (you have to be beautiful & skinny, stay young looking forever.) Molly Mormon is not enough you have to be career savvy or have worldly accomplishments at the same time as being a stay home mom, etc., etc., etc.

Sigh! In the theme of Dr. Seuss, I don't like it, I say, not one little bit. :)

Rob and Jewls said...

Natalie! I agree whole-heartedly! I grew up in the mission-field of Miami, Fl. It wasn't until I went to BYU, I really noticed the pressures related to being a part of the Mormon social circle. That pressure, sadly, has not left me. In fact, it has quadrupled since I got married and had kids. I say, "Back to basics, and back to me." Just live worthy of your Heavenly Father and all will be right in your life...yes even without homemade meals! :)
-Julie Morgan

Ryann said...

I guess that I am the one dissenting opinion. I don't feel the pressure to perform in many of those areas and I don't stress about it. I think that because I do not come from an LDS background, none of those expectations have been passed down to me. I have had to create my own expectations in this new church life.

Now that is not to say that I don't see and recognize them but I have just cut myself out of the catching the Jones' of life. And I think that is what you need to do. Keep a persepective of what is best for my family and for me. Not how can I be more like so and so.

This is just a season in life and maybe the next season will bring different challenges. But for now, Natalie, you rock. And you are one of those women who I look up to and wonder-just how does she do it all?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying it. I feel so connected to your post. I know its so late, but we just got our internet hooked up and I am trying to catch up on my siblings lives for the past 2 months.....Love ya, Teresa