Mar 2, 2008

The word "Housekeeping" is not Anti-Feminist.

Julie Beck gave an excellent talk at the CES fireside tonight. (If you're interested in listening to it, it can be found here, scroll to 6:00 pm on March 2nd, 2008). She said a lot of things that needed to be said, that many people are afraid to say nowadays because of political correctness and the possible "Stir" certain ideas might create among churchmembers. IT seems that, any time "housekeeping" tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of children, are mentioned in conjunction with the role of Motherhood and woman's role of "nurturing" (as outlined in the Proclamation to the family) the feminist sector (a sector in which I include myself) explodes. "Shame on you, Julie Beck," they say, "for further undermining the self-confidence and autonomy of the LDS woman." Or, conversely, "Shame on you for saying that LDS people are better (or ought to be better) Homemakers, because it's disrespectful to those not of our faith."

OK. My thoughts:

Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurturing of their children. STraight from the proclamation. What does that mean? It means that, in any way she can, a Mom's focus should be mostly concentrated on things related to nurturing their children. Things such as.... what?

You fill in the blanks. But I, myself, include stuff like cleaning, feeding, bathing, taking care of sick children, grocery shopping, managing finances, preparing family home evening lessons and family activities, arranging playdates, and many other typically "Housekeeper-y" tasks in this category. Is there something wrong with that? I don't think so. Furthermore, someone in the family has to do all these things. ANd I can say from personal experience that it is nearly impossible to accomplish them while also trying to sustain a full-time job, unless you hire someone, or you have enough older kids that you can divvy up chores. So, IMO, unless a house needs two incomes, it's really most efficient for someone to stay home, whether that be the Mother or the Father. And, let me redirect you to the proclamation: Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

I actually feel really good about that.

Of course, that doesn't mean that mothers shouldn't pursue redeeming tasks for personal enrichment. It doesn't mean that, if it makes more sense, financially, for the mother to work, that she shouldn't be the breadwinner. It doesn't mean that putting your child in childcare is tantamount to neglecting your calling. Julie Beck said none of those things in either of her talks.

What she did was to focus the spotlight back on something that we have all been sidestepping because we're so worried about stirring up the hornets' nest: Mothers take care of kids when they can, and they do the best job usually. And this means spending most of the day as a housekeeper. And yes, you can find redemption in that; in creating an atmosphere of nurturing. That's your calling as Mom. If you can't stay home, then don't beat yourself up. But if you can... it's actually a blessing, and something you can find fullfillment in doing.

And yes, I am a Feminist.


Carrot Jello said...

I loved this post!

Barlow Putz said...

when sister beck first gave her talk i got worried, because even my wife said" what does combing straight hair over and over again on your kids have to do with the gospel, that old barefoot and pregnant thing, and then i gave the lesson to a bunch of old high priests who cheered me on and on and on..they of course would love it, and now your views which i love and appreciate...sympatico

NoSurfGirl said...


since you are never really straight in any of your comments, I'm gonna assume that this is the main message of your comment,
"What does combing straight hair over and over again have to do with the gospel."

Well, I'm only one Mormon woman. But in my opinion, combing my daughter's straight hair over and over in the morning is an instance of nurturing. It's time we spend together. It's something I do for them that they have come to expect... that I take care of them. This has EVERYTHING to do with the gospel, with a woman's nurturing role in the eternal scheme of things. It makes me sad to hear women disparage these sorts of things, because they really are the most beautiful moments in life. And when our kids have all left the nest, these are the moments that we'll look back on with tenderness and miss like nothing else.

Barlow Putz said...

i was putting my wife on one end of the continume, and the high priests on the other, you have no idea how i point...feminists might argue to keep the hair straight:straight hair in lieu of the TIME, high priests glad of the attention on the children might prefer the time spent on the hair, might fall anywhere inbetween, also could be said about the perfect Daryl Hoole home(nothing out of place)do you know how i fweel yet?????i am sure NOT

NoSurfGirl said...

Barlow, I'm actually pretty unsure about what you're saying. But I'll assume it's all on the up and up. :) As long as you're not making fun of me, I'm fine. I'm not the kind of person who takes kindly to being made fun of... it's one of my weaknesses.

Amanda said...

This is an excellent post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. :D

Barlow Putz said...

i loved your post, honest.....""""

NoSurfGirl said...

Thanks, Amanda. :) Thanks, Barlow. Sorry I doubted you. I just have no idea who you really are!! But thanks.

Lucy Stern said...

My ideas are that if you can live within your budget with one income, then it is a great idea for one of the parents to stay at home and take care of things there. Things meaning, children, housekeeping, cooking, and whatever else that means. I am a stay at home mom and loved it. I was there to get my kids off to school, there when they came home, a room mother, a band mom, a mom who when to the kids ball games and cheered them on. I paid the bills, did my calling and many other things. Why have children if you are not going to give them you time and training?

Children do need nurtering, they need to be taught and they need love and dicipline. Who is the better person to do that than the parents who love them, not a paid babysitter.

Now there are single parents, divoriced parents, and widowed parents out there that have no choice in having to work or leave their children with a caregiver. They have to do what they can do to take care of their family unit.

Now if a mom and dad are both working to support the family and just get by with the bills that is what they have to do. BUT if both are working to "get ahead of the Jones", then that is another story. I don't believe in putting material "things" ahead of your family.

I guess I am just old fashioned and I am not trying to judge anyone here. I am giving my own opinion as to how I feel.

Lucy Stern said...

I should have done a better job of proof reading that before I hit publish.....Yecks!

Anonymous said...

Since time is short this afternoon, I'll just say "Ditto" to nosurfgirl's comments. Many years ago, a couple of my children were going on and on about what a fabulous cook this particular person was, and since I consider myself "fair" at best, I finally grew a little annoyed at hearing such high praise. After all, these children were eating one of their mom's delicious culinary delights even as they extolled (hope that's spelled right) this woman's talents. So I finally said, "Yes, but I bet she doesn't know what psychic disequilibrium means." My young son looked at me and said in all sincerity, "But Mom, that's not important."

And you know what?? He was right. It's important to know definitions like that for my job, but they don't count at all in my measure of success in the world. What matters is the love, tenderness, nurturing, and caring that I've put into raising my children and making our home a clean, well-ordered, safe refuge from the world. NOTHING counts for more than happiness in the home.

Okay, I'm done!

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