Sunday, March 23, 2014

Things I Wish My Mom Understood

I had a...discussion with my mother this past week. She is counting down the months (6) until she can do temple work for my dead sister. Mormon rules say a person needs to be dead a year before their work can be done. The work in the temple for the dead is done to basically give them access to the Mormon afterlife.
   I haven't been to church nor wanted to for the past 7 months. Yet my mom asked if I was going to go with her and my step-dad. I told her that I would not, and that I have no interest in the church. I've made that point to her many times.
   She told me that she was disappointed in my choices. She thought that the church would mean more to me, and don't I want to see her in the Celestial Kingdom (Mormon top layer of heaven)? I told her that, according to culture-if not theology-that those in the CK could visit people in the lower levels, and that she could come visit me anytime she wanted.
   She was less than amused. So you can imagine her reaction when I told her I was going to Utah to stand with Ordain Women in April. She. Flipped. Out.
   She asked why, if I have no interest in Mormonism, would I want to protest General Conference. I told her it wasn't a protest of the meeting, but a questioning of policy. She asked why I wanted the priesthood if I don't care about the church. I told her I have no interest in the priesthood, but I think the church should be more gender-equal.
   This started the usual tirades. "Motherhood is a sacred duty. Women are just as important. Why would [she] want the extra responsibility of priesthood anyway? If men didn't have the priesthood, they wouldn't do anything...etc"
   I told her she doesn't have to agree with or even like my choices, but she does have to respect them. She asked why should she respect my choices when they go against everything she believes in? I told her because I was an adult and I had my free agency.
   To which she responded basically that she'll pray for me to come back to the fold.

I was dissatisfied with my answer, and upset at how the conversation worked out. I've been stewing over this for the past while, and if I had the conversation to do over, this is how I would respond.

*I know you are probably scared for my salvation and that you honestly believe the church is true.
*I know that joining the church gave you purpose and strength in a lifetime of abuse.
*I know that being a member of the Mormon church gives you purpose, a social outlet, and a sense of safety.
*I know that you, having joined at 28, have no idea what growing up in the church was like for me.
*I understand that your Mormon experience has been different than mine.
*I respect the choices you've made and I don't hold them against you.
*I cannot give 10% of my income to an organisation that has no transparency.
*I refuse to be part of a culture that teaches girls that all women are nurturing, caring, and that their divine role is of motherhood.
*I will not teach teenagers that a temple marriage is the only guarantee of a happy life.
*I will not allow myself to feel guilty because I am naturally more masculine. I am not gentle, or kind, or nurturing. I am hard, and exacting, and managerial.
*I do not believe in a God that demands my heart, soul, strength, body, mind, money, time, effort, acts of service, and devotion.
*I refuse to attend a church where my questions are met with coldness, pat answers, or ignored.
*I will not support an organisation that demands I "sustain" (and not question) men as "prophets, seers, and revelators", no questions asked.
*I deserve more than a culture of people that are face nice, but have no real interest in who I am or what I want.
*I want to chose how many, if any, and what ages of children I want-and not to feel shamed or guilted.
*I want to be part of a group of people that is accepting of differences, not one that holds up cookie-cutter conformity as righteousness.
*I want to decide what is-and isn't-right for me. I want to be my own moral compass.
*I want to feel free to base my decisions on what I think is right, not what some man 50 years ago thought.
*I want to believe in a God (or Goddess) that doesn't hold me to an ideal, impossible standard-and then judge me based on how far from that I am.
*I want to live free from the fear that my husband can marry again and saddle me in a polygamous relationship in heaven.
*I need to be respected and loved for who I am, no matter how imperfect, scarred, or terrible.
*I need to be free of small minds, of conformity, of whitewashed truths, of double talk, of fake politeness, of unanswered questions.
*I want my skills and talents to be used, not pigeonholed into what someone else thinks I should do.
*I will not be guilted, manipulated, or coerced into attending a church that I do not believe in.

I want to be who I am. And that is not a Mormon. Ironically, Mom, all my traits which caused my unhappiness in the church- independence, intelligence, strong-will, managerial skills, sarcasm, questioning, and tenacity-I learned from you. So, thank you for helping me become the strong, capable woman that I am. I'm sorry that you're hurting from my choices, but I am so much happier out of the church than I ever was in.

Mom, I know you think that I have never and don't need you. But I do. I always have I hope one day you will see me as your child, and not some lapsed Mormon that you can pray back into activity.


  1. I hope one day she reads this and begins to understand what an amazing daughter she helped create.

  2. This sounds sooooo very familiar to me. It sucks and I'm sorry. In my experience though (and it may differ from yours), it doesn't matter how good of an argument I've constructed. My mom will never really listen or understand and all it really accomplishes is to fuel the madness. I can't convince her that her arguments defy logic and the minute she feels cornered she changes tactics by simply bearing her testimony and delivering a huge guilt trip about how I've broken her heart.

    It's easier said than done but I've found that (for me) the best response is to just refuse to engage. Usually I'll say something along the lines of "I don't agree with all of your choices either, but I'll respect your right to follow your beliefs if you can respect mine." If she continues to push I'll tell her that if she wants to remain privy to the details of my life she will need to accept my choices and refrain from criticism.

    1. I'm getting to that point, too. Though she doesn't guilt much. Just says "Oh" and gets quiet. It's just frustrating that it's something really important to me, but I don't have many people I can talk to about it. Because they are either Mormon and sensitive/judgy, apathetic, or non-religious.