Monday, December 5, 2011

You'll have to adjust

My mom seldom gives advice I want to hear. I sent her an email a few weeks ago bemoaning how hard mothering can be, and how I feel like my deficiencies are creating a wild-child. Her response didn't come as a cyber hug, telling me I was just having a bad day and things would be better tomorrow. She didn't suggest a power-nap, or a book, or taking a walk to clear my head. She didn't reassure me that my child isn't wild, but just like every other 9-month-old.

Rather, her response came in three lines:
I love you.
Ada is Ada so you'll have to adjust.
Love her.
No, my mother doesn't give me the advice I want. She gives sound advice; the advice I need.The kind of advice that I first hear and think, "What? That's seriously it?" then later understand just how wise she is.

A friend linked an article on her Facebook page yesterday: How to Talk to Little Girls. As I read it I thought about my mother again and again.

My mother has always been a champion of the thinking woman by being a model of one her entire life. When I was in junior high she went back to get her Master's in mathematics. I remember hearing her talk about her studies and seeing her leave for school. She is brilliant. Questions of: What did you learn today? What books are you reading? How did your test go? always rang throughout in my childhood home.

I always knew that my brain was valued.

I showed the Huffington Post article to Mike and he remembered a talk given last April by Elder M. Russell Ballard. Elder Ballard said,
Popular culture today often makes women look silly, inconsequential, mindless, and powerless. It objectifies them and disrespects them and then suggests that they are able to leave their mark on mankind only by seduction—easily the most pervasively dangerous message the adversary sends to women about themselves.
Again I was impressed by how in tune church leadership is with the trends in society and the needs of humanity. We are truly a church of modern times.

The Huffington Post article was well written, made strong points, and caused me to rethink the way I talk to little girls. It made me realize just how often we probably all fall into conversation about appearance, but how wise it is to steer conversation towards something of more weight and consequence.

However, I think avoiding mention of appearance and beauty completely is taking this line of thinking too far. Women should care about their appearance to an extent. While our looks should not be what define us, we still have a responsibility to present ourselves nicely. Our bodies house our spirits. The body, the sacred vessel that contains the very intelligence that ignites our mind shouldn't be disregarded as something inconsequential. Looking pulled together and well-groomed shows a respect for our bodies and a sort of reverence for our souls.

Above all, however, I think the council from secular and religious sources alike are wise in teaching us that we all have a responsibility to each other to make our thoughts, opinions, minds and brains feel important and powerful. I hope that like my mother, I can not only create a home full of, "intelligent conversation that respects [Ada's] brain" but that as Ada grows, I can give advice that makes her think, and grow and realize she is more capable than she previously thought she was.

The Christmas Waltz by She & Him on Grooveshark

1 comment:

Rach said...

I remember Michelle always talking about the kind of advice your rock solid mother gives. :-) Also, I LOVE that picture of the babe.

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