Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not Fair!

I originally intended on placing this on my Conservative Cake and Liberal Icing personal blog, but in the end decided to post it here to get more views, opinion and thoughts on the issue.

Marisa and I discuss frequently what one would have to do to fulfill their role of mother or father, husband or wife one-hundred percent in modern-day LDS life. As I was pondering some of the aspects of that perfect LDS mother/wife role, I realized that this path truly is not fair for women (Edit: in the short term)! Hear me out. I'm not saying that we [when I say we, I mean more specifically Marisa] should not have tried to do what we have. Nevertheless, when Marisa committed to not putting off a family and dedicating herself to the raising of our children she chose to stagnate or severely limit her:
  1. Financial earning ability
  2. Potential spousal appeal (relevant if I died or divorced her)
  3. Worldly prestige
  4. Advanced knowledge
  5. Sexual appeal (physical changes and challenges of having children)
  6. Freedom (children)
I on the other hand was able to go on and get my education which increased my value in most the aforementioned categories (1, 2, 3, 4). Category five doesn't hurt a man when he has children and the responsibilities of six are too often left to the woman in situations of separation even if she gets a meager alimony/child support. What a huge difference! That is not fair. When women choose this path they have to have faith enough in their spouse to voluntarily put themselves in this vulnerable position. A truly noble act that deserves more recognition. Even tonight I heard a high dollar loan officer talk about how many prestigious men will divorce their wives in their late 40's and move on with this increased value to get a new wife a few steps higher up the ladder than they could previously when they were first married.

So, what does Marisa get?
  • being a single mother for 4 years while we were in dental school. I would leave at 7am, return at 6pm, eat with the family for a short while, and then go off to study until 10 or 11 pm just to get up and leave her all over again (many times this continued through the weekends)
  • most of the sacrifices of extended schooling without the diploma
  • the demeaning view of others by being seen as a trophy wife that probably married me after I finished my education
  • being looked down upon by working women who see SAHM's as weak and less intelligent because they can't hack the real world and therefore stay at home (don't get me started on this pet peeve)
  • letting me, the intellectually inferior half of our companionship (she received 1 of the only 24 top scholarships available to the 6000+ of each freshman class at BYU) go on and get the education for our family
  • complete financial dependency upon me
  • lack of significant amounts of adult interaction
  • the joy of knowing that she was able to be a full-time mother and not miss the opportunity to raise her children
As you can probably tell, the motivation for this post came from things that have happened to me over the past couple of years. I don't like seeing someone who has sacrificed so much for me not get her due respect. So, the point is to tell your wives how much you love them and how grateful you are for the support they have given you.


Cody said...

First of all, this is going to be written out very quickly and hastily so it might not be super coherent. I strongly disagree with your statement that Marisa was a single mother for four years. You know that your 3rd and 4th years in dental school were much, much more family friendly.
On to your main points, most of those complaints you listed are dependent on your perspective. The restored gospel gives us an eternal perspective. If we have a temporal perspective that the world tells us we should have, then yes, it really does seem unfair for women. But, when we put our eternal perspective goggles on, many of those complaints become trivial and silly. For example, worldly prestige and freedom. You can ask many of the celebrities about worldly prestige and the ones who are grounded and have it figured out will tell you it's not what it's cracked up to be. And as for freedom, you are insinuating that without children one would have the freedom to pursue their own interests. Well, as the scripture says, those who find their lives shall lose it, and those who lose their lives shall find it. That scripture is referring to this precise situation and is the reason why so many people in the world who have all the time and money to pursue their own desires are so miserable and confused as to who they really are. On the flip side, it is the very reason why those who dedicate their lives to some cause other than their own, i.e. missionaries, parents and other service oriented people, are so happy, focused and have a feeling of place in the world. It is another phenomen of the world, logic would tell us that if you really want to find purpose and meaning in your life you would tour the world, satisfy your desires, and make yourself happy. But the truth is that to really become happy, one needs to forget themselves and serve others. I know this to be a fact.
Just so people don't cry and say that I'm being a sexist, let me put refer to it from a male perspective.
I love, absolutely love the outdoors. While I was at college I had the opportunity to work my dream job at that time. I worked at an outdoors job and was a ski manager. With that job came a free season pass to the canyons and 60% off any retail gear I wanted. It was amazing and exactly what the "world" would consider ideal. But, during that time I had a wonderful opportunity to realize that there is much more to life than just skiing, biking, and rock climbing. Namely, family. If I pursued that avenue in life and remained a ski bum, how would I ever be able to provide for a future wife and children? All the 40 something ski bums I ever ran into who according to the world had all this "freedom" and happiness from pursuing their dream, were actually lonely, lost and confused. It was at that time that I decided that even though I wouldn't be able to bike, ski, climb and backpack as much (if at all) while in dental school, the opportunity to provide for my family work in a career that allowed to me give back to society and help people was much more meaningful than being a ski bum. But, that is not in alignment according to what the world thinks. The world would think that I am silly for giving up that dream, but the gospel has helped me put things in perspective. And that's the key to all of this, you have to look at things from an eternal perspective. Family truly is what matters most in this world, more than all the money, degrees and fame that anyone could ever achieve.

Cody said...

The scripture that I referred to is Matthew 10:39. I accidentaly left out "for my sake" which makes a big difference. I love this verse.

Lisa said...

I don't comment very frequently, but thought since I'm in relatively the same position that you were in 3-4 years ago, I could add my opinion. I personally do not feel like it is "unfair" to be a mother in Zion. Like Cody said, it depends on your perspective. It doesn't bother me what the world thinks because I know what our Heavenly Father thinks and how I feel about my decisions. I know that what I'm doing now is the most important thing for my family.

I know you and Cody chose your professions to have that time to spend with your family and for that, I'm very grateful.

As for being a single mother in dental school, I disagree. It really isn't that bad, plus when you finally have a "real" job, you are still gone the same hours during the day. It definitely helps that you don't have to study when returning home, but church callings and other obligations can take up your evenings and weekends as well. If Cody was gone on business trips and he literally never came home, then I would feel like a single mom.

I feel that I can find the adult interaction if I really want it, I can make the time to workout so that my body is fit, and I can earn more education later in my life when the timing is better. Like it reads in Ecclesiastes 3:1, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:".

To wrap this up and not make my comment as long as Cody's :), I'll just say that it's best to not get caught up in the world and what they think, and make sure you are following the path that will make you happy in this life and in the next.

Carson Calderwood said...

Sorry, but you guys are completely missing my point.

Neither of us are reticent at all about our decision and agree with you whole heartedly about the joys that come from making the decisions that all of us have mutually made.

The point is that by doing so women DO put themselves in a vulnerable position and I don't think that women get enough credit for that. If, after all this sacrifice, I decided to leave Marisa I would be left with many temporal benefits that she would not get. And of course, she would have more blessings in the eternity. That is the exact reason why she makes the decision that she does, but it does not lessen the vulnerability!

Where The Wilds Things Are said...

Carson, I don't think you are being "worldly". You are simply offering a perspective that we don't consider that often. I have know doubt that Marisa is happy being a mom of three. Did she make sacrifices, yes, but well worth it. I think your families comments are very good and valid...the gospel does make us happy, and the world does not. However, all the things you stated about lack of education, earning power, physical appeal, etc are indeed a harsh reality for most women if their husband dies or divorces them. I married after earning my degree and working in my desired field for a few years, and we didn't have kids until I was months away from being 26 however, I would still have a difficult time getting a good job if anything happened to Cory. Thank goodness for life insurance right? Anyway, I appreciate your perspective. We as women do a lot for our families, but so do men. I am grateful for my role as wife and mother, and wouldn't trade it for a high paying job and freedom (just a few more date nights each month and more girls nights out).

lettieb said...

I don't feel like there is THAT much unfair about my life compared to Nate's. If I had been forced into my situation, I would definitely not be saying that. I got married at 26. I was done with school, really should have gone on and gotten a masters. I had a great job (that I didn't love) and we could travel on a whim because 1 - we didn't need baby sitters and 2- we definitely had more cash flow.
I feel like a lot of what I have sacrificed, so has Nathan. He's not even done with school, so I have that on him, right? :) Really though, I feel like perhaps he got a better deal (that in reality I wouldn't trade) in that he doesn't have stretch marks from carrying 2 babies (but he also never go to feel them kick and move around in him - so maybe I am the bigger winner) and he takes his kids less for granted because he is away from them 5 days a week. Sure, I get jealous sometimes that he is alone and can just go to the doctor or get his car fixed without figuring out what to do with the kids, but, I would rather have that problem than someone else raise my kids. Honestly, you and Marisa are way more Mormon smart than me, because I don't even know what being a 100% LDS wife/mom is or means. I don't really know if I am actually commenting directly to anything you said other than just giving my general opinion. I think that if I had really wanted a career I might feel different about the fairness level, but I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I ALWAYS wanted to be a mom though, and just like every choice a person makes, there are always downsides that you just take with the package. I may have more to say later. I think I need to reread your post...

Lisa said...

I'm sorry if my post was offensive in any way. That's one bad thing about blogging, it can be hard to convey meaning without talking directly to the poster. I am definitely not a public speaker and have a hard time getting my message across, thus the reason I rarely comment on your blog.

I understand your point, and am glad that you made the decisions you did with Marisa. I never said you were worldly, I was generalizing to the readers of your blog that we shouldn't follow the world and get caught up in the "unfairness" of it all. I personally do not feel like my life is unfair by giving up the things you listed at the beginning of your post. I still have time to do the things I need/want to do. Yes, it would suck if Cody died or divorced me, but I wouldn't trade the last 5 years for anything and I'm sure Marisa wouldn't either.

Marisa is smart, pretty and has an eternal view in mind. You guys are doing what's right for your family. Again, I'm sorry if I came across sounding like you two are following the worldly perspective.

Carson Calderwood said...

No problem! :)

Jodee Chapman said...

Good post Carson, it is always nice to be recognized for the sacrifices we make. You're right, it is a pretty vulnerable position to be in, and at 19, 20, 21 (ages a lot of LDS women get married and start families) we don't realize just how vulnerable we are. I am sure glad I got my degree and have continued to stay involved in different things that if nessecary, I would be able to use if I were on my own. I know Marisa has "insured" herself as well and I think that is so important. Hopefully we will never need to "cash in" on that!
It really does hurt when others think that I am less of a woman for staying at home with my kids and not pursuing my career. I think it takes a lot of guts to give up some of your dreams and aspirations that go along with a career. I didn't grow up in the church and I had a working mom all my life. It never really even crossed my mind growing up that I would be a SAHM at 23 years old. But I always say that the hardest decisions of my life (joining the chruch, getting married w/o my parents there, and deciding to be a SAHM) were also the best decisions I have ever made. I think decisions like these are so hard because you may have to give up a lot but in the end, you always are rewarded with so much more.
And yes, sometimes I do feel like going into the office and having some adult interaction without talking about birthing, breastfeeding, or potty training. And I would love to put on a bikini again and not see stretch marks, or be able to go to the DMV without it being a three ring circus (not in a bikini of course). But at the end of the day, I also really feel bad for Ronnie when he has to say goodbye each morning as he leaves the ones he loves and possibly miss a first step or word. So I would like to say "thank you" to you too, for sacrificing for us, and working so hard so that we CAN stay at home.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I had to make a comment. Now remember this is coming from someone that has been able to do both, be at home not the hours Marisa or Lisa are, and also work. I am so grateful that both of my sons and my daughter-in-laws have received their degrees. I am really grateful that my daughter is working on getting hers. I wish I would of continued and finished even a associate degree. But most of all I wish I had encouraged Mickey to of stayed in school and got his. We do need people to do these other jobs that don't require a degree but I am glad your not in this line of work. After working with Mickey these past six months I am glad I had the job I had and didn't do this job when my children were young. I went to work so we could have a steady paycheck and medical benefits. In Mickey's line of work they didn't offer any of that in those days. And even now it's not very good. I'm grateful for the job I had, it did allowed me to be with my children when they came home from school and on weekends. I also was able to take any time that was needed to go to school in the day and see them in any activity. When I first worked I was with my children durning the day till till 3:00 in the late afternoon. It was nice to be able to spend time with them and not miss out on to much. Then when they were older I got up at 4:30 in the morning and went to work at 6:00 am so I would be home when they got home from school. I didn't make as much as someone with a degree, but I did have the freedom to come and go and spend time with my children. Because of my job, my children were able to have braces on their teeth and other things that we wouldn't of been able to afford. I grew up in the days when women were the SAHM. My mother was able to do that. But she also was divorced by my father after 34 years. There really isn't any right or wrong answer. Each family will have to work out whats best for them. Our friend was a school teacher and his wife had to work. So even some degrees won't help make enough money to take care of your family. But once again I am grateful that all of you have your degrees so your lives now or in the un seen future will be easier because of all your hard work in getting your education. I also know that Mickey loves you guys as much as I do cause he learned to take care of you at night, when I worked nights and he took care of you in the mornings when I went in early morning. I think we made a good team. You guys keep up the good work and keep telling each other that you are grateful for all they do for you.

Zappe Family said...

Wow. You get the award for the longest comments on 1 blog entry I've ever seen!

I appreciate your thoughts on this. I've never really looked at my situation that way before. I am grateful that I have a degree to fall back on someday as well. As I'm sure Marisa is too! :)

Deon said...

Wow - such a hot topic. While I may be misinterpreting some points here, the bottom line in my opinion, for what it's worth, is that we were not sent here to have a "fair" life. The longer I live, the longer I see that. What you and Marisa have is golden - both of your lives and the roles that you fulfill is what is eternal. The rest is just "stuff" we have to get through... We do all we can, and our faith takes us the rest of the way regardless of what the future in this lifetime holds.

lucy said...

Interesting posts. off topic but oh the pics.

lettieb said...

I have been thinking about this post the past couple days and tried to explain it to him, not quite making sense, of course.
I just wanted to let you know I think I get your main point. You are grateful for Marisa and wanted to let us all know that you think she is great. I think that is fantastic.
I think that sentiment might have gotten a little buries on the (perhaps misused) word "unfair."
I really liked what your mom wrote and same with deon. When I think of how "easy" we have it compared to what most of our parents had when we were young, I think that they sacrificed so much more than any of our generation ever will (is that unfair??). That's a whole other topic though...

Carson Calderwood said...

I am very surprised by the outcome of this post. I figured it would be all tossing tulips and daffodils as we all pranced off into the sunset. Instead I had people coming up to me at church and calling me from across the country saying they were grateful that I pointed out this vulnerability, but they felt afraid to comment against the general tide of the other comments and they didn't want to murky the waters anymore.

I think this occurred mainly because I misjudged the dual nature of the topic. The purposefully flagrant title may have offset too much what I assumed was an obvious-to-others feeling on our part that we don't really care that much about the sacrifice. In other words, that was just to set the stage and then it would easily be swept aside for the second/main point, that of commending women for their faith in their husbands that we won't leave them and move on after their sacrifice.

Even if those stated sacrifices/inequalities were greater would we have chosen the same path? Definitely! Marisa is not the type of person to say, "I'm 100% fulfilled being a SAHM and there are no aspects of other lifestyles that I am envious of." If there was nothing she was giving up then it wouldn't be a sacrifice. On the other end of the spectrum she also would not say that she regrets being a SAHM, she loves it and wouldn't give it up for anything. We thought that was so obvious to those who know her that it wouldn't be a point of controversy.

Furthermore, this post is more relevant to our situation than for many others. I went on and got 4 more years of advanced education that created a greater difference in the inequalities I posted about. To make it even worse, Marisa could have done those same four years easier and better. Those are two big reasons why it was not fair for her and why I am grateful that she was 1-willing to follow the guidance of the gospel and not the world and 2-willing to not let that inequality that this created bother her. Life's not fair, and we don't expect it to be. I just thought I would point out the inequality and thank my wife for choosing the right path in spite of it.

lettieb said...

I get what you are saying (and the "him" I preciously referred to was Nate - I was trying to explain the post to him.), but I have a something a sacrifice just because you give it up or does it matter how much you really wanted what you have given up?
I would LOVE to hear some of your other friends' views on this and think that generally it wouldn't "murky the waters." You posted it here for more discussion, right?
This post is one of those posts that I wish you were actually talking to me in real life about so that I felt like you we were understanding each other more. And I am not sure why I am posting here instead of just privately emailing you...Anyway, way to find an interesting topic!

Carson Calderwood said...

Good point Collette. Something is definitely more of a sacrifice when it hurts more to give it up.

Shelley & Jake said...

Um, yeah. :) I struggle with this all the time. I'd love to have two lives I could live at once - one being supermom and the other pursuing a stimulating career. I'd never give up this time with my kids, though. It is too precious. I plan to get back to school as soon as Jacob is done (easier than working as a mom for me because I hate disappointing a boss when my kid is sick for two weeks in a row as Evan just was).

I think the career/family combination is pretty much always harder on the mothers than fathers, regardless of their religion. When the kid gets sick, generally who has to take work off? When a new baby comes along, who has to take the most time off? Who has the mammaries and may want to nurse the baby since it's the healthiest option for her child? All of those types of things do effect a worker's productivity. I do think that nature designed women as the primary caretakers. It does make an exciting career harder for women, but I'd never trade motherhood for fatherhood, honestly. No offense. :)

It helps to remember that throughout most of history, very few people had careers that I would consider exciting. A lot of the work that needs doing is sort of thankless and tedious, but I'm sure glad someone takes care of diaper changing and trash removal.

There are tedious, thankless aspects to any profession (some more than others). Whatever we decide to use our lives to accomplish, it helps to get through the drudgery to remember the magic and the meaning in what we are doing. There is plenty of that in motherhood.

But yes, I am acutely aware of the many sacrifices I am making. Thanks for taking the time to appreciate them.

Holman House said...

I've always enjoyed your interest in stimulating conversations! I got a little choked up reading the original post, it just feels good to get some appreciation. I swear if men only knew the lengths women would go to for them if they just communicated appreciation! So thanks for that.

I see where Cody was coming from with the "eternal gospel goggles" part, and I appreciate his comments, especially his point about perspective and his own story. However, he seems to come off as having "rose colored glasses" on. It's easy to take a shot at celebrities or "worldly" people as examples of those who have their priorities all wrong and consequently are unhappy, but just being a member of the church and having an eternal perspective available in NO WAY guarantees that we are happy and that any moments of despair or questioning elements in our lives are "trivial and silly". Any idea of the prozac problems, meth and other prescription drug problems in Utah? I quote an article that sites Alcohol and Drug Abuse Facts--by Lorraine Furie, Utah Divison of Alcoholism and Drugs.

"Prescription drug addiction can happen to anyone, but it happens to women much more frequently than to men. Women are twice as likely to receive prescriptions as men, and there is a direct correlation between number of prescriptions written and incidence of abuse. The majority of women drug addicts are white, do not use illegal drugs, and receive their drugs through a doctor’s prescription.

LDS women seem to be particularly vulnerable. Utah leads the nation in per capita use of some prescription drugs. Most LDS women would never consider using alcohol or illicit drugs. Prescription drugs, however, are legitimate, sanctioned, even encouraged for many problems, yet can easily lead to a dependance not intended or invited. Once a woman is innocently ensnared, the guilt and feared stigma of judgment or disapproval can create barriers to treatment and increased reason for denial."

Dare I suggest some kind of connection to those and other problems and the number of SAHMs? How many SAHM's are truly, honestly fulfilled and happy, and feel like they have an identity separate from their children? At the heart of it I'm sure most are, there are just some down days and sometimes we need to be reminded that we are doing the most important work EVER, that of creating a righteous household and raising independent adults.
On another note, lately I have really realized something: we can create what we want! There are ways to prosper, have abundance, and realize our full potential, we only need to turn our brains on and go forward without fear and make it happen. Yes, the scriptures say we need to "lose ourselves", but it needs to be taken in context and with the understanding that the only way we can truly serve others is if our own cup is full. The scriptures teach, "Love thy neighbor, AS THYSELF". So while I love appreciation and external rewards as much as the next person, I know I need to feel complete and love myself on my own. I humbly say that I think this comes from feeling and living your own personal soul purpose, living with the accompaniment of the H.G., and striving to have the true love of Christ for all.

dr.brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melinda Curtis said...

I'm Rachel Holmans sister. She led me to this post in order for us to talk about the topic together. I want to tell you how lucky your wife is to have a husband who recognizes the sacrifices made on his behalf. I suppose it is all perspective as well. I do feel that being a mother has it's sacrifices but for me personally, there is no greater calling than that of motherhood. It is a thankless job at times but the rewards outway the hardships for me. It is %100 how you want to look at the situation. I personally feel so much value in being the teacher of my children. I feel it a huge responsibility that the Lord has entrusted me with. I am honored to be a women, mother and wife. I feel no unjust treatment or situation but that is because I refuse to see it from that point of view.

Carson Calderwood said...

Thank you for your comments. Even Brian's before he took them off. Too funny!

Richard Tait said...

Hey all,

I know I'm late with my views, but I'm old, and us older people need more time to pull it together. I posted my comments at