I received an email that Terry Tempest Williams would be giving a reading in Orem. I read her book Refuge 10 years ago, as a freshman at the University of Utah. I enjoyed her writing and her descriptions of the wildlife on The Great Salt Lake. I quickly placed holds on her other books at the library so I could become more familiar with her works before going to the reading. I stumbled across a line that mentioned
Terry Tempest Williams was a Mormon. I grasped at that line that she might be like me. If she was a mother and accomplished so much, it meant that there was hope for me. I brought up her bio in Wikipedia to find out if she had children. It was impressive, I was surprised to see that she had written children’s books, was curator of the Utah Museum of Natural History, had participated in civil protests, and even participated in a book referenced by President Clinton as having an impact on congress. She met her husband when she was 19, just like me, and they married within 6 months of meeting, just like me, but her Wikipedia biography had no mention of children. I Googled “children of Terry Tempest Williams” and found my answer in a blog. After reading this and many of the comments left below the blog, I had my answer, which led me to wonder, was she a Mormon still? I found my answer on another website which stated she had made the decision not to have children, and that there were aspects of the LDS church she questioned.
I don't question the LDS church. I don't feel undervalued because I don't carry the priesthood. I believe in, “separate but equal roles”. We cannot all be Prince Charming, but this does not make us the damsel in distress either. We are more like Shrek and Princess Fiona, equal partners, he rescues her from the castle and the fire breathing dragon, but she can still defend herself against Robin Hood and his merry men, as well as treat Shrek’s arrow wound. I am not excluded from any blessings the church has to offer, namely the blessings of going to the temple.
I do admire Terry for all of her accomplishments, and I cannot deny I want to be recognized the way she is by the world. If Terry had chosen to have children, there is a better chance she would not have accomplished all she has done to be recognized. I am also sure it must not have been easy to complete all the works she has published, and become the activist she is today. It took her time and unflinching dedication to her cause. I did choose to have children and I did not complete college. For many years I lost myself. I thought that I was selfish to spend any time on academics, or reading. I had been closed off from the literary world that was such a part of my life when I was in school. I worked from home and I was closed off from any outside influence. It wasn’t until I decided to promote and began working in an office that I saw many of my co-workers reading in-between work assignments. I realized being a mother and taking time to read were possible. I still didn’t think I had the time to sit and read, so I began borrowing audio books from the library. I mostly listened in the car and at work. I felt my intelligence awakening.
Another year later I joined a book club held at my uncles’ house. It included a cousin, and some of my uncle’s former and current students. I was embarrassed by his introductions, saying this is so and so he’s majoring in this, and this is so and so who is working on their masters and this is so and so who has a degree in this, and this Anya, she’s a mom with 2 little kids and this is etc. I felt pride for having kids but at the same time self-consciousness for my lack of accomplishments. Thankfully, I was not treated as someone of lesser intelligence. After a few months I decided that I must go back to school. I also decided I would wait years, until my children were self-sufficient. I don’t know when that will be, I can’t put an age on self-sufficiency, but I do believe if I continue to develop myself as a reader, an independent learner, and writer; if I keep my eyes on this goal, I will know when the time is right.
Having this embarrassment due to my lack of education, do I wish I didn’t have my children, do I think they held me back? In my case no, I had dropped out of school not long after getting married, attempted to go to another school and dropped out again. I don’t know if I would have regained my love for writing if I did not have my kids to take learning away and then rediscover it again. Maybe I would have remained lost without them. I do believe I am a better person for having them. Because I believe this is true. . I also believe my most important accomplishment will be raising adults who become a benefit to society, whether it is through their academic, philanthropic, or corporate accomplishments, or whether they continue as I did and contribute more children who benefit our society.
Think if every child had a mother who loved them, who raised them with the tools to be a good person, to make moral decisions, to love their neighbors, if every mother taught and lived these principles there would be world peace. Although I am an idealist, I also realize this will not be the case, as there is opposition in all things, and if we all had a perfect childhood we would not be the well rounded persons we are today, we would be robots and so nothing does turn out the way we expect. Difficulties are thrown onto our paths, like a brandishing fire molds metal to perfect it. Although not every parent on earth will teach their children what they need to be kind and happy the rest of their lives, I don’t think we should give up on having children all together. There must still be voices to question that of authority, to question politics, and policy, this is how our nation was created, upon the voices that refused to be silenced. One authority that should not be questioned however is God. I know that the LDS church belongs to Him, and is His only true church upon the Earth. I know through Joseph Smith it was organized by Him, and that every Prophet up to and including President Thomas S. Monson is His mouthpiece, receiving and speaking direct revelation from God.
I believe having my children was of greater value to me and the world than any Honor or Award I could receive. This does not mean that because of motherhood I discontinue learning, growth, education, and enlightenment. I will continue my pursuit of knowledge; I will use my voice for good, question authority when necessary, and hold with the values, principles, and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ.