Updated: Oct 12, 2021
For a long time, I resisted the idea that I was nurturing, or that I would be a good mom if I even ever had kids.
I spent the better part of my girlhood and teenage years being told who I was and what I was going to be. My life was planned out for me even before I was born. I’d be born, be blessed, be baptized, get married in the temple to a worthy man, and then have children who would do the same. It was presented as a given.
“Your highest calling is to be a good wife and mother.”
“Women are naturally more nurturing.”
“Education is great, it’s important to have a backup.”
Not only did I not have a choice, other options weren’t even discussed. There was no life outside of mormonism.
And I HATED it. I have always sought freedom and independence--when I was 2, my catchphrase was “I do it myself,” and I dreamed of running away and doing whatever I wanted, becoming whoever I wanted to become.
I resisted the idea of being a mom and being nurturing because I was afraid that was all I was, that was all I was good for.
Hearing that I was going to be a mom and that being a wife and mother were the most important things I’d ever do rang hollow for me, even when I was 12 and writing that list. I resisted the idea that all I was good for was making babies and taking care of a husband (in all ways--mormons didn’t really teach consent or marital rape, YIKES).
I rebelled. Often, and in a variety of ways. But the one that breaks my heart now is how I resisted the idea that I was nurturing because I didn’t want that to be all that I was.
I thought for a long time that if I was gentle, that I’d be taken advantage of. That if I was a good mom, I couldn’t be anything else. That if I was a caring wife (even with boundaries), that I couldn’t be anything else.
High demand religions, like mormonism, do a great job of taking over every aspect of your life, and even who you are. They don’t leave a lot of room for self-reflection outside of the confines of the religion, and encourage binary thinking.
My grandmother thought she was being truly generous when she said “she drinks coffee, but she’s still a good person. It’s not like she does heroin or anything.”
Binary thinking. Maybe with a few cracks in it, but based in the idea that Mormon = good, not mormon = bad (or needs to be fixed, educated, etc.).
That kind of binary thinking made me feel guilt and shame anytime I thought or did anything against the church. My journals from that time don’t accurately reflect everything I was going through because I felt that if I wrote everything down, it could be found out and I could be punished. I felt the push to be positive, let it go, and “forgive,” even when my best friend at the time was horribly insulting to my face in order to make other people laugh.
That kind of binary thinking is what makes me feel like an absolute failure when I let frustration get out; it’s what makes me feel like my relationship isn’t solid because it doesn’t look like my parents’; it’s what makes me worry if I’m doing enough or being enough--because there was no “good enough” in my house growing up.
“Good enough” was the enemy of perfect in my house and that made anxiety and stress run absolutely rampant. We stressed about the house not being clean enough, we stressed about not looking put together enough, we stressed about fucking EVERYTHING that anyone else could see because my parents had these same shitty feelings too.
It’s a goddamn cycle.
I’m now on a journey to understanding, appreciating, and integrating all parts of myself. The ones that I was told were bad or sinful, the parts I was praised for, and the parts I love. All of it.
And it’s not easy. It’s really not. It’s hard to stop the cycle of rebellion, but I don’t want to exist in reaction to something else. I don’t need to rebel against anything, because nobody is trying to control me anymore.
I have to keep reminding myself that I’m safe from mormonism, I’m safe from controlling parents, and I’m safe in my own body.
Still working on truly not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks, but it’s happening slowly. Even writing this and calling my parents controlling feels like a betrayal and I’m really worried that I’m going to get in trouble for writing this. But I’m actually 31 and I can’t be grounded anymore and I can’t be punished anymore.
Trying to cut out or quiet the nurturing part of me left me feeling empty and awkward. Not because being a mom IS my highest and only worthwhile calling, but because I am actually quite nurturing. I’m a big softie and I love supporting others. Quieting any part of myself without understanding why it’s there or how it actually operates (think: anger. Not bad, actually validating and illuminating when used properly), only hurts me in the long run.
So I’ll keep journaling, I’ll keep writing, I’ll keep doing my shadow work. It’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding. I feel so much more peace now that I’m not fighting against myself all the fucking time.