Friday, December 3, 2010

The Ideal- What's Wrong with It?

I have been thinking long and hard about "the ideal." In fact, I was so deep in thought in the shower that I almost washed my face twice! Or maybe I had already washed it twice and I stopped myself on the third go around......

Anyway. I have been thinking about Ideals, more specifically, the Ideal of a family unit. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released The Family: A Proclamation to the World in September 1995. In that document they talk about the ideal family unit with a mother and a father who each have unique and divine qualities and responsibilities.

Some people have a problem with ideals because they feel that ideals are essentially unattainable and therefore depressing because people always feel like they are failing or falling short. Many people in the world today are spouting theories or amoral relativity. In other words, there are no ideals, there is no right way. It is all about what ever works for you and what you think is best.

The latter part of that statement I agree with- conditionally. But, it needs some tweaking.

Ideals are great things. Ideals are things that are meant to be striven for- not necessarily obtained. Remember the saying: "Shoot for the moon. Then, if you fall short, you will at least hit the stars." If we, as a society, do not have an ideal and strive to maintain it, then the natural entropic forces of life will degrade the ideal further. It is only but putting in the work, striving for the ideal, fighting against entropic forces, that we can resist the natural degradation of society.

I understand that there are many different types of people and families and, ultimately, you have to do what works for you. Each person has to evaluate their circumstances and do the best that they can, but that doesn't mean that they cannot hold the ideal as a distant goal.

I know some people who don't want to have children, and that's fine. That is their choice. But, personally, the people that I know that don't want to have kids, don't want kids because they had home lives that were screwed up in some way and they don't want to inflict, what they view as a normal childhood, on children of their own. And maybe that is noble. But, just because we are born into circumstances doesn't mean that we are not allowed to change them or rise above them.

Maybe, ideally, if these people grew up in homes with a mother and father who were patient, loving and kind, then they would understand the joy that can come from being part of a family unit and they would want to have kids. But, life often finds us short of our ideal preferences.

Maybe, if our society didn't define our contributions to our families by our gross income, women would find more joy in being mothers and staying home to raise their kids. It is SO naive to believe that the most and best thing a woman and a man can contribute to their families is money. We have so much more to give- why does society limit us in this way?!?

I went through this struggle. I left college early because I got married and my husband got a job in Texas. I freaked out. What are people going to think of me if I have kids and don't finish college? What am I going to say when people ask me what I do and I have no professional career accomplishments to share with them? Am I always going to have to bear that hidden scorn that people are always one second two slow to hide from my discerning eye?

Well, guess what? I know who I am, and I know what is important. Yes, I was married at 19. Yes, I have a son. No, I haven't finished my degree. Yes, I will graduate by April 2011 because I believe a quality education is important. I defy society to tell me that because I will be a stay-at-home mother that I am wasting my life and my talents in a position that is little better than a slave or a maid. (Which I also disagree with. Being a Mom requires sacrifice and selflessness but the rewards are great. I find that when I struggle most as a mother, it is because I am being selfish in some way or another. Selfisness- an indulgence I gave up when I decided to raise a child- for the most part. (-:)

Society- you don't get it. There are seasons of life. When I was single, I could try to have a career and change the world. When my children are grown I can try to have a career and change the world- if I want. Right now, I have a son. And I plan to have more children, and at this season in my life I am going to be a Mom. A Super Duper Mom.

"The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is the Hand that Rules the World." Mothers raise the next generation. If all the women are out, working, and leaving their children to be raised by other people- then they are giving up their chance to influence the next generation. Some mothers choose to work, and some mothers have to work and that is fine. You have to do what You have to do.

But that doesn't mean that there cannot be an ideal and that we cannot strive for it to the best as our circumstances will allow us to.

Let's hold onto our ideals. Let's strive for our ideals and in so doing, make the world a better place.


  1. Not to sound like I am criticizing you, your goals and the blog, but- I do have to put this question out there:

    Why go back to school and finish your degree at all if you aren't going to use it? In 18 years when your son is ready for school, if you dont, have other children and you decide to start working- Are you going to go back to school? Most of the information you learn now will be incredibly outdated by the time 18 years have passed, and if you aren't working and keeping up with it, it seems like the education you received now is wasted.

    That being said- I do encourage you to do what your heart desires and live your life how you feel fulfilled. I just had to ask as that was the biggest question that screamed out at me while I read it.

  2. If I may make a response to our anonymous friend . . I think people miss the point of education when they believe its just to get a degree and do something with it. The skills learned while getting a degree of any sort are worthwhile. Learning how to be focused, responsible, diligent in work (good work ethic), punctual, communication (group work and talking with professors), and organized are just a few of the great things somebody can learn and develop in school that blesses the business person, the teacher, the scientist, and the stay at home mom. How does the child learn those skills without a good example from the mother (and the father as we can't exclude his ability to influence). Another great lesson is the importance of finishing something you start rather than giving up.
    Many people who graduate don't use the degree which they studied for and do something entirely different. However, they do use many of the skills they learned in college.
    Besides, I think it was Virginia Wolfe who argued years ago that what good is a wife who cannot function on a physical, social, and an emotional level similar to her husband. Husbands and wives can cherish the fact that they have similar education that will help them to communicate better and build a better home together.
    As you can tell I'm a little bit passionate about this subject. I love and respect those women who stay at home and raise up the next generation with good values and skills. I am also greatful that school teaches us more than besides what we need to learn for what we assume to be our future profession.
    Education has a broad variety of benefits. I want to be a teacher. The most successful and intrinsically motivated students will be those who understand not only the lessons in grammar, math, science, and history, but that when they have to do something they don't like at school they are still learning skills valuable for the rest of your life.
    It's a good question Mr/Ms anonymous and an important one to answer for yourself and your family. :)

  3. Anonymous- I appreciate your question and, more importantly, I appreciate the manner in which you asked it.

    As I have been engaged in various activities today I have been thinking about how to answer your question. I have a list of six points that I would like to add to DHTMaster's comment.

    1. If, heaven forbid, anything should happen to my husband and I needed to provide for my family, I would be able to do so much better with a college degree. College graduates earn about $20,000 more a year than high school graduates. I met a lot of women in my time on campus who never thought they would have to work and are just now finishing or getting their college degrees so they can support their families.

    2. Lead by example. If I want my children to get a higher education, I need to show them it is important to me by first obtaining one myself- even if it will be difficult.

    3. A higher education will also allow me to better supplement my children's education with my own knowledge.

    4. A college degree enriches me personally and validates me. I feel like I can carry on an intelligent conversation and feel valid in my responses because I am educated.

    5. My learning doesn't stop when I leave school, school is simply a good foundation in teaching me how to learn. I continue to read books and take classes to enrich myself so I can enrich my family. Plus, if later in life I find the opportunity and desire to get a master's degree in something, I already have a bachelor's degree to launch me there. (It is thanks to college that I just capitalized "master's" and "bachelor's" and then realized that would be grammatically incorrect! It helps me look intelligent in my blogging!)

    6. I believe that knowledge is one of the few things we can take with us when we leave this life. There is so much to know and experience in this world; I want to take advantage of every opportunity that I can. :-)

    Perhaps this should have been another whole blog! It is a long response, but I appreciate your inquiry and I hope I have answered it to your satisfaction.

  4. You have most certainly answered my question. I think the thing that threw me the most is that I am coming from a completely different place than you are. I have no desire to have children, I want to see the world, and I (personally) feel like if I don't utilize my education, than I have wasted my parents money. Again, I don't beleive this applies to everyone, its just my view.

    I often become thrown when people have a different view from mine, especially when I think my "opinion" is more like "common sense". So, I like to try to understand where other people are coming from, especially when they state their goals so eloquently.

    Thank you for filling me in, I had not ever considered things from that perspective and I think what you are doing is wonderful. You will be an excellent mother :)