It's been just about eleven hours since President Julie Beck's General Conference talk. She touched on some very sensitive topics, and she did it in a fairly blunt manner. Anyone familiar with the Mormon blogosphere knew that this would set off a lot of passionate comments and posts, and already there is much to read in the bloggernacle
about her listeners' reactions. Many are feeling hurt, condemned to drudgery, belittled, and frustrated.
I actually had the opposite reaction. I was thrilled.
Please don't get me wrong--I am not the type that loves to clean and rejoices in nothing more than staying home and scrubbing my kitchen floor (which, frankly, could do with a good scrubbing). And staying home to raise my children has been an adjustment for me, and even after four years I sometimes wonder how I am going to stay sane for the next twenty.
Perhaps this is why President Beck's talk was so heartening. She really made motherhood, homemaking, and child-rearing sound like a professional job--these are your tasks, these are your responsibilities, these are your goals. Every part of what you do relates to every other part.
I had a professional job once--besides the part-time jobs I held in high school and college. I was an adjunct professor of geology at the local state college. I adored
this job--it was so stimulating, so rewarding, so fun it felt scandalous to get paid for doing it. Of course there were boring, tedious, and just plain unpleasant tasks, as with any job. But I plowed my way through them, recognizing the unpleasant parts were just as important, in their own way, as the exciting, fun parts. I tried to make them more enjoyable, tried not to procrastinate, and learned short-cuts and techniques for faster completion.
During President Beck's talk, it occurred to me that I had never applied this mind-set to my current job as a mother/homemaker. Keeping up with my children is hard. Watching them make a mess of a just-previously-cleaned room is depressing. Washing the dishes, making good healthy meals, finding ways to make ends meet while still having fun--those tasks just don't come easily to me. But instead acting like an intelligent professional--studying out how to accomplish them, asking and reading and learning and experimenting--most of the time I just muddle around, complaining and wasting effort. Definitely not professional. Perhaps because women are called to be mothers and, in our gospel culture today, asked to stay home and be homemakers, I figured that by virtue of being a woman, I must automatically have those skills.
While I think of myself as a pretty good mother--I enjoy spending lots of time with my kids, and I like to come up with new games and activities and songs--I have really been falling down on the homemaker tasks. Although home-tending isn't the most
important part of the job, it is conducive to comfort, good health, and the continuous presence of the Spirit. If I had taken this attitude to my teaching job, it would be like being a good lecturer, going on fun field trips, and answering questions, but never writing tests, grading papers, or working with people who just don't get it
. Somehow I don't think I would have keep my job for very long.
President Beck's talk really opened my eyes, and challenged me. I'm excited about finding ways to truly learn new skills, to try to manage my home, to polish my talents. To truly grow in this important job, and to become the best mother/homemaker/wife ever. Why should I spend the next twenty-plus years doing anything less?