Sunday, March 30, 2008

When I Grow Up

Sweetie has been obsessed lately with what she's going to be when she grows up. She asks everybody what they want to be. She changes her mind on a whim regularly throughout the day as she finds herself enjoying what she's doing. This morning I was doing an aerobics tape. "I want to be an exercise woman when I grow up," she said, as she did aerobics next to me, using the remote controls as hand weights. Later we ate bananas for a snack. "Maybe I want to be a banana eater when I grow up," she said, mouth full. And tonight we met family at Costa Vida (yum!) for dinner. "I want to be a baker when I grow up," she said as I held her up to see the woman making the tortillas.

The spring after my freshman year of college, my own "When I Grow Ups" crowded my thoughts. Should I continue to take pre-nursing classes or switch to history or even English? My pre-nursing classes had been fascinating, but hard; my history classes boring; and my English classes fun, but pointless.

I tried to make the decision the spiritual and logical way--I prayed about, I fasted about it, I made pros and cons lists, I talked to my parents about it. But I was still confused. "Maybe it doesn't matter to Heavenly Father what your profession is," my dad said. "Maybe you can fulfill His plan for you in His kingdom no matter what you major in."

I was unconvinced. I've never been a person who had trouble believing Heavenly Father cared about what I do. In fact, the opposite is true. I've never been able to imagine that a Father in Heaven wouldn't care about what I said, or what I did, or how I treated people, or what I would do for my profession.

Even now I think the omission of early guidance about a major and career was deliberate on the part of my Father in heaven. I think He knew that, being very self-motivated and driven as it is, I would put plenty of emphasis and focus on my major and career. He, in turn, would emphasize my eternal career--motherhood.

Now I try to do the same to Sweetie. I tell her that as a Mother, she can be all of the things she wants to be--a banana eater, exercise woman, baker, and reader. And I try to show her how I am doing the same and loving the opportunities that motherhood is giving me to learn new things to teach my kids, to do hands-on art with my kids, to bake with them, to exercise with them, to eat bananas with them, and to have some time of my own to do a little schooling, a little writing, a little experimenting. Some may think I am already grown up, but I am glad that I still don't have to decide yet what I will be when I grow up. Right now I am exploring the countless possibilities and I am thanking my Father in heaven for both the possibilities and the certainty that I will always be a Mother when I grow up.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

a trial run and a little background

the look of this blog tells it how it is: i'm not invested in this yet, i don't know if i'm going to keep it up, i don't know if blogging is "me." i created the name for my blog almost two years ago when so many of my good friends, my own blue stocking society, particularly smartmama, got swept up in the blogging craze and convinced me i should do the same.

at the time, i chose "bluestocking mama" for my title. the Blue Stockings Society was founded in England in the mid1700s to allow women, albeit women of privilege, to discuss literature and the arts. the women had little opportunity to do so in their society and culture. the Blue Stocking women supported each other in their writing, their artwork, their reading, and advanced women's education. England's National Portrait Gallery recently featured the Blue Stocking women and described them as follows: "A group of celebrated women writers, artists and thinkers who forged new links between gender, learning and virtue in eighteenth-century Britain. These women were not just brilliant, they were exceptional, both for their individual accomplishments and for breaking the boundaries of what women could be expected to undertake or achieve." in many ways i don't fit the blue stocking label--i'm neither British, nor brilliant. but in many ways i do--i'm passionate about education, particularly women's education, i still believe in studying virtue as part of education, and in my own culture as an LDS woman, i feel that trying to finish my dissertation, unfortunately, puts me outside the boundaries of what many expect me to do.

when i think of the Blue Stockings Society now, i also think of the women who are participating in my dissertation research, who write and read in a private online discussion board and blog ring, who write to support each other in mothering and worshipping and living as individuals and as members of communities. for over three years now i have seen these women dealing with and accomplishing more than they expected to undertake in the realities of their lives.

well, two years ago i signed up my blog, but never posted, never formatted it (still haven't, obviously). i felt strange about writing so publicly and never felt a need for this kind of audience. plus, there's always the "good, better, best" to consider, and most everything in my life other than family, church, and school has slowly been set aside in the past two years, including blogging. i write a lot in my life as a way of exploring my thoughts and of knowing, but i like this writing to be pen and paper with no real audience in mind. now, though, as i'm starting to write my dissertation, i feel like i'm writing into the void with no audience. suddenly a blog doesn't seem like such a bad idea to write/talk out my dissertation less formally. maybe now a blog will help me finish this lingering dissertation. if so, it gets promoted out of the "good" category into a "better" category.

i can't ignore, of course, the "mama" part of my title. balancing the two identities is an impossible and frustrating and sometimes disheartening task. "mama" receives the majority of my time, as it should be. i feel great peace in that. so i'm sure i'll be posting about the "mama" as much as about the "bluestocking." if, that is, i keep this up. and that's a big IF.