Speaking of which, last week in Relief Society our lesson was on women in the church and YOWZA! Talk about stirring the pot...our teacher didn't get to say anything because the comments took over, and hand after hand went up like I have never seen before in my quarter century upon our earth. Some examples:
- one young newlywed mentioned she feels a lot of pressure to have kids. Several women responded, telling her it was the best thing she could ever do so to get started, while a bunch of other women told her to feel free to put it off a while because it will never be just her and her husband again, and one woman even asked, "Have you asked God's opinion? See what He thinks."
- one youngish mom with 2 little kids commented that while she loves being a parent, staying home is driving her crazy and it's not sustainable for her because she doesn't feel like all her talents are being utilized and she wants to contribute in a different way. A few people responded to her, saying that she needs to make it sustainable because that's where she belongs, while others expressed sympathy, urging her to follow her heart because so-and-so never regrets working and allowing your kids to see you pursue your talents helps them know it's okay and good for each of them to be his or her own person, too.
- one old lady with grown kids mentioned she wished she'd never worked outside the home and has felt guilty about it for 30 years, and another lady said she was glad she did because it taught her kids independence and is sick of people judging her.
- everyone agreed that whether they stayed at home, worked part time, full-time, kids, no kids, whatever, that they had felt judged by someone else because of their decision but that we shouldn't get up in each other's business.
Our lesson went 5 minutes over, raised voices, tears, hugs, you name it, a lot of emotions were close to the surface. Spiciest RS lesson of my life. Interested to hear how the men's lesson went, I asked my husband if his was as juicy as ours.
Not even close.
No one had anything to say. The opening question was, "What do you think are some challenges women in the church face?" Dead silence for a while, then one guy said that maybe a small minority want the priesthood. It's hilarious/startling/revealing that all these men are CLUELESS about what's important/challenging/heartbreaking for their spouses, having completely different conversations about the same topic. Like the genders live on different planets!
Addition: I should also note that I did not participate in the RS discussion, primarily because I was wrapped up in all the feelings swirling from the women around me. But I was really surprised at how many women felt judged; not just working moms, who said they felt like second-class citizens or like their neighbors looked down on them, or expressed frustration that people assumed they "had" to work when sometimes they just found it fulfilling, but also from moms who stayed at home. Some of them expressed feelings about how they felt like the worker bees looked down on them because "all" they did was stay home, so they must have tons of free time. One employed-outside-the-home mom mentioned that she knew plenty of moms that spent more time away from home than she did, but usually for community involvement or politics or uber-volunteering or whatever, so unpaid and therefore didn't count as a "job" so they were still "good moms." Overall, it really struck me how many women had conflicting feelings, regardless of their choices, and how sometimes, with all the pressure, it's a lose-lose. And let's make it a win-win, dammit.