Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm justa girl

I've learned to avoid telling people I ever had anything to do with the church. You get a stigma. A lot of you will get that. I fear a particularly stinky kind for myself. You guys, my husband was born into the church. I chose it.

But because he was born into it, there are situations I can't get out of, attitudes I can't avoid. His family is pretty awesome with regard to our leaving, but there's one member who--try as he might!--can't let go entirely. Every now and again he has a comment. It usually doesn't bother me.

But the attitudinal issues--those bother me. The misogynistic crap is so subtle, but it's there and I've always felt it but I've always dismissed it because it's so subtle and, y'know, maybe I'm just being sensitive. I don't know if anyone outside the culture and at all unfamiliar with it would sense it as it's redressed in names like "values" and "virtue" and "faith" and "humility" and "modesty" so that even women don't see it.

We attended a little get-together at my FIL for my SIL's 8th grade graduation this past weekend. As my FIL and my husband are both teachers, they talk quite a bit about issues and general experiences. Now, I didn't necessarily grow up wanting to be an English teacher, but it has always been on my mind. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have tutored and enjoyed it so much. In high school I wanted to be a writer, but I was aware enough to know that wouldn't work as a day job so I considered being an editor or proofreader, working in the publishing industry.

For a long time post-church I told myself and anyone who would listen that I didn't think I could teach, that I didn't have the ability to handle the emotional and mental issues associated with it. Because I wouldn't let it go (I was waiting for someone to assure me I'd be fine--yay passive-aggression!), others simply shrugged and agreed--which made my insecurity worse. I had just spent the last decade being told ("encouraged") that I couldn't do what I wanted to do. It's been quite the process redefining myself. I'm getting there, but it's slow.

So I finally decided last summer that I was going back to school with purpose. The difference in my motivation is amazing. I finally believed I could do something and I've done all the annoying crap so far in order to do it. I took biology--biology. I've overcome a lot of fears just in the last year to keep going. Now I'm in summer school. I'm happier when I'm studying.

But not everyone is all that supportive. More than I thought are, but there are the cynics. They surrounded me yesterday.

"So you wanna be a teacher, huh?" a family member--also a teacher--said.


(insert loud laughter here)

It could be because the climate is so godawful right now that only an insane masochist would even entertain the thought, but I know this mindset. I know my husband used to have it. Kids, I could tell a few stories and they're all influenced by church doctrine and teachings regarding women--not girls! women--and their place. "I'd rather you wouldn't wear that." "Don't go on a walk by yourself."

I mean, girls.

So the laughter also stank of condescension and it didn't help that the conversation stopped there. They weren't interested. But, he did bring it up again later. "So what do you want to teach? Elementary?"

Because, as many of you know, women are best at teaching elementary if they're going to teach at all (really, if a mormon woman has to work, she can be a secretary or a teacher so I'm already playing into this). And let's not forget that just moments before I overheard a conversation regarding elementary school teachers--they're amazing people and a special brand and omg so glad they're there, but their university program doesn't demand as much of them.

He backed up pretty quickly after I scrunched up my face and...well.

Every time I was asked about school my responses were met with snideness. Even DILF (i'm struggling with this. he's uncomfortable with actual names but i grow tired of "my husband" and i think "DILF" is funny)--ANYWAY, DILF, who usually sets me straight when I'm being irrational--and god knows I can be when I'm angry and hurt--agreed that there were some major you're so cute *pet* now get in the kitchen overtones going on.

Seriously. I need some good returns for these stupid comments next time. When we got home I just wanted to ball up and cry and punch something.

I'm not doing this for them, to prove anything to them. If I was I wouldn't have come even this far. But, you know, it would be nice to have a bit of respect.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Another SIL on the way

I feel weird about this one. Not in a bad way, but in a "why the hell weren't you excited about the last one" kind of way.

The most recent SIL is nice enough. She's naive as all get-out, but she's nice. And we all know, I wonder very much about my BIL's actual feelings about it. Those feelings aren't at all alleviated by the numerous stories I've heard of things he said even on the day of the wedding. Something doesn't feel right.

But of course, I could totally be wrong. It's not like I know that BIL that well. He lives in friggin' Utah and I rarely see him. The signs, though. Anyway. I hope I'm wrong for their sakes.

This new girl is marrying the youngest boy in the family. I love this BIL--I love all of them, but this one has a special place in my heart. When I was in labor with my youngest, he gave up his bed for me. We lived in a town an hour away but I wasn't giving up my OB/GYN for anything. So when active labor began the day before Christmas, we made our trek to my MILs house to spend the night. For two awful, contraction-filled nights BIL gave up his bed. For three days BIL voluntarily and without any asking on my part took care of my kids. I never had to raise a finger. My SIL was amazing, too, but there was something special about BIL doing this. He also had to wake up every morning around 5am (if not sooner at least once) to my false alarms. He never complained.

My only regret about BIL is the boy he was when he returned home from his mission. Complete zeal, this boy. But we had all changed, the kind of change that just intensifies it all (if that makes sense). He was a believer before but now he was completely entrenched, quoting Spencer W. Kimball (?) and others regarding the evils of "socialism" and otherwise. It was, for me, disheartening. The boy who once played Grand Theft Auto (which, in an ironic way, bothered me back then). The boy who once watched South Park (again, ironic. how could he get away with watching that?). I missed that boy, but I loved him too. I've known him since he was a chubby little eleven-year-old boy. The eleven-year-old boy who, upon seeing my husband and I hold hands for the first time in his living room, lit up and ran upstairs to tell everyone. I hope I remember that forever.

This BIL has a special place in my heart. Sometimes, when it feels like a good time, I try to bring him back. Whether he likes it or not, he still laughs when we reference South Park.

I friended his fiancee on facebook last night, and she seems so goddamn sweet I can't hardly stand it. She's SO LITTLE (young!) but so sweet. Her friends are already calling her by her almost-new last name and it brings back so many fun memories. I'm excited to meet her and afraid I'll scare her off at the same time. I'm afraid I'll fall to the wayside. My in-laws are the most amazing people, but they're believers and we're not. It makes us the default black sheep, even if they still love us and treat us just as they always have. I've always been a bit of a black sheep--being a not-so-social girl in a Mormon world, whether you're a member or not--just makes you the weird one.

They're getting married in Idaho this September. I've never been to Idaho which makes the idea of going neat, but we're not exactly rolling in the dough at the moment so we're not sure we can make it anyway. There's hope, though. My husband may get a summer teaching job, and if he does we're definitely making the trip. And though we're pretty sure everyone--with the possible exception of the remaining BILs and SIL--knows we're no longer active, the prospect of sitting in the temple foyer while they get married is a hard one to swallow. Let's also toss in the idea that DH is working on the idea of resigning this summer. So, all I can think about is the embarrassment of the foyer (an interesting emotion, I think), and then the remembrance that I did the exact same thing to my own family. Karma is a bitch, kids. At least we'll be able to help the as-yet-endowed SIL with the loads of kids.

But I want to go. There are problems involved--days to take off, the aforementioned financial issues (there's also a planned Disneyland trip this November)--but this is something we'd like to attend.

There are just so many emotions involved here, but I'm happy for them.