On kids, religion, and whatever else comes to mind

On kids.

I’ve been thinking about kids lately. Which is weird. Well, let’s back up. I grew up wanting what every kid wants (or, they think they want): a house, lots of kids, a family dog, and white picket fence. I loved kids, and gooed over them like all get out. But then, well, I got married. And I realized I didn’t want kids for a while after all. And, not that many. Three years have passed, and it was only recently that I felt one of the first true inklings to have a child… (What a relief! I was getting worried.) There are a lot of reasons why people have kids, and not all of them are good. I’ve heard of couples who felt pressured, had a slip up in birth control, or simply felt that they had run out of excuses. I didn’t want to be any of those; I wanted to have a child only when I truly honest-to-goodness wanted a child. The sacredness of motherhood deserves complete joy, and to be fully basked in without reservation. And, I finally felt a touch of that. Whoa, whoa. Hold on there, it’ll take more than a touch before we go down that road. And, apparently, my mothering instincts rear themselves up on their own timeline — and I’m certainly not going to rush it. Being just the two of us is really fun and fulfilling. But, this has been an interesting development.

On religion.

Leaving the church was a lot easier than I had expected. I’ve heard stories of pleading bishops and stake presidents, eager-beaver visiting teachers, unfounded gossip, overbearing home teachers, angry/hurt family members, and fellow-shipping up the wazoo. I’ve pretty much side-stepped all of that and am so relieved. It helps that I requested no visiting teachers. And that the bishop respected my wish to not be made a project, even though I’m sure an ex-mormon in church every Sunday is such tantalizing bait! And that there’s nothing to gossip about (except, gasp!, that coffee has now touched my lips!). In my heart, I left the church last May. We told family in August. We told bishop this January. And now, I am officially not a mormon…that still goes to church with her husband.

Whenever this topic comes up, I always feel like I have to reassure people I am making the right decision by telling them how I feel: happy. peaceful. content. calm. Otherwise, they’ll think I’ve been deluded, led away, or stuff like that. And (uh oh, I can feel myself getting riled up) can I say how difficult it is to be an ex-mormon in provo utah?! No wonder people who leave the church end up hating it! Sitting in church every Sunday is… Ack. I don’t know if I want to be honest and alienate my readers. *Must rile down or it’ll come out wrong.* I know the church — I was a bonafide, hardcore member believing and following everything. I know what the church teaches about ex-mormons. I know what they teach about split-religion marriages (more on that later). I hate that people think they can put a ceiling on my relationship to god based on my membership status. You have no idea, I just want to say, that you have no idea. One of my friends responded to my leaving that church as “turning my back on god.” A sentiment that isn’t limited to that one friend. Sorry mormonhood, you don’t have a monopoly on god. You don’t have a monopoly on truth. You don’t have an exclusive all-access pass. [Pauses.] Sorry. Anyways. When church gets like that, I either focus on socializing or in burying myself in religious books (lately, In Imitation of Christ, written by a Catholic monk).

Our families have been great about it. In my family, this decision sparked a lively debate, raw emotion, and lots of good family feeling. This “catastrophe” brought us much closer together, as most family catastrophes do. Deciding to leave the church was hard for several reasons — one of which was that I knew it would hurt people I loved. My mom, especially. But, she’s been the best of all. We were just talking yesterday about it, and she said the most beautiful things…Things that I’ll hold close to my heart. There are some mormons who are so caught up in being mormon that they simply cannot understand this decision, (and they can’t understand that they can’t understand it) — they’re the ones tangled in rules and doctrines and commandments. They can’t see God’s light when it deviates from the path. But, there are some mormons who can. Some. Like, my mom. And my Dan.

On Dan.

One of the things my mom said yesterday was a simple, “You married a good man.” Yes, I did. I was thinking about our relationship and how glorious it is…and sat wondering how that would change if we hit some major crisis. And then, duh. I just changed my religion. If that’s not a major crisis in a mormon world, I don’t know what is! But, we’re both just so … we just … [how to describe it??] … fail. words fail.

It’s good. I can say that we’re not struggling. We’re not harboring deep-rooted pain or anger. We’re not secretly trying to convert the other to our faith. We’re friends, first and foremost. You know what? I think that’s what it is. Friendship. Our relationship has hardly taken a blow. Mormon? Exmormon? Doesn’t matter. I love you. And I love you too.

I had always thought of Dan as more of the aforementioned types of “mormons who are so caught up in being mormon that they simply cannot understand when someone leaves the church — they’re the ones tangled in rules and doctrines and commandments.” (btw, I think that attitude is what makes a split-religion marriage complicated). I didn’t give him enough credit. He gets it. He’s had front-row seats in this entire experience, and he gets it. And that is how he can take me out to buy coffee — because I know some of you were wondering *wink*

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One response to “On kids, religion, and whatever else comes to mind

  • llcall

    I didn’t have the first inkling of wanting to have a child until I was 25 — I mean, literally, all growing up I told my parents I was not going to have kids, a fact which they bring up at least once a week now. But by 27 that inkling was like an avalanche (that was also the year I got married). I never believed the biological clock thing was so real and intense, but for me, oh boy, it has been!

    I got some push-back when I was dating Neal because when I met him he was not active in the church and I was very active and already endowed. I think one of the basic fallacies that I had to deal with was the idea that somehow I would never know about whether Neal would stay invested in the church since he had been inactive for a while. But of course, we never really know about anyone, what choices they will make: past results (mission, etc.) is no guarantee of future performance. It was important to me to have a strong foundation that wasn’t based just on shared religious beliefs — although I cared about those too — because there are no guarantees in life. The more points of connection you can have with your spouse the more likely you are to stay connected during the inevitable shifts and changes you’ll each make in life. Anyway, good for you and Dan for having that kind of foundation.

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