I read a recent letter on salon.com last week entitled Why I can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs by Emily Matchar. She is a self-described atheist feminist career woman with no real interest in converting to Mormonism and no plans to settle down to start a family, but there was something in these “Mormon Mommy blogs” (a blog genre that features domestic arts, child-rearing, and stories from home life) that drew her to pore over them with great interest. The reason she gave for this reading addiction was that they are “weirdly uplifting.”
I found her article interesting for two reasons:
- As a Mormon with many Mormon friends, I am subscribed to a couple dozen Mormon Mommy blogs on Google Reader to keep up with the lives of my family and friends. As a consequence, under Google Reader’s “Recommended items” tab, I get referred to a handful more of these Mormon Mommy blogs every day: pictures of perfect strangers, children I have never met, stories of their MLK day outings, etc. Google thinks I’m looking for more like these, but I’m actually not interested in strangers’ personal lives, and I don’t typically see anything particularly magical in them.
- Ms. Matchar sees something uniquely appealing in these online scrapbooks. Something otherworldly. As she says, “Enter the Mormon bloggers, with their picture-perfect catalog lives. It is possible to be happy, they seem to whisper. We love our homes. We love our husbands.” It’s an angle on traditional womanhood that it seems was never examined in her years of modernist training.
I hadn’t considered her point of view until I read her article. You see, for me, these blogs represent reality. This is more or less home life as I lived it. I had a mom who stayed home to raise her kids. There were creative hand-sewn Halloween costumes, homemade quilts, sit-down breakfasts and dinners, and brown paper lunch sacks adorned with cleverly-coded nicknames for each of us 6 kids.
I had never really thought about a life that didn’t include some aspects of gardening, potty training, or cooking. Even as a man I have always planned on getting involved to some degree in domesticity as a husband and father. For me, the home life is the whole point!
I can certainly understand the predicament career women are in. Many of them need jobs, and they should be paid equally for equal work. A career is a laudable achievement for anyone and I’m pleased with how far our society has come in breaking such barriers. I would just caution anyone who carries the mindset that careers are the secret to ultimate joy and that men have selfishly reserved them for themselves through the centuries. I recently earned a masters degree and started my own career in earnest and…
…it’s not all that glamorous or exciting. It’s a good job; it suits me, and I’m certainly happy to have the income, the security and the professional challenge, but I don’t think I would be fulfilled if I made that the attribute that defined me. My job is really more of a means to my true end: a happy, healthy family life. And I believe it’s that attitude; that priority, so common in Mormonism, which fascinates Ms. Matchar.