Friday morning I woke up early, threw on a dress and some tights and headed to Salt Lake from my Provo apartment. I'd been prepped, sort of, to know what to expect and what my job was at the World Congress of Families IX. I was to report on two of the events, incorporating similar perspectives of families across a variety of religions.
I spent the entire day around the conference Friday and I wish I could have experienced more. I have never been in a place of such obvious religious diversity, and this is not my first time out of Provo. (This summer alone I visited nine different countries, so really I'm not kidding).
As I returned home, exhausted and inspired, there were thoughts racing through my mind. What had I just experienced? What was influential? Did I agree with everything?
I looked at the hashtag on Twitter to find the much-expected-criticism calling the #WCF9 a "hate group" of sorts. Not surprised, but a bit curious, I opened a couple of these articles, reading through the criticism.
The articles seemed well written, good arguments, obviously biased -- although it's a difficult topic to be somehow unbiased. One highly debated topic was the meaning of Women Empowered. The article spoke tirelessly of the idea that "women empowered" was some kind of trick to empower women only if it was in the home and within the context of families.
While I have little knowledge or place to address many of the complaints against this conference, as a 20 year old college student, dedicating my life to learning and preparing for a future occupation with hopes of a family in my future, I couldn't leave that unaddressed.
I spend more hours in a week doing homework and studying in class than some people spend in their job right now. I enjoy some of it, and I frequently feel like school is kicking my butt. I attend the second highest ranked university in Utah and the 87th in the nation. It's not an easy process to excel in a class or get accepted into the program you may want. My semester was just over a 50% acceptance rate for the public relations program.
I'm working hard and I have an interest in working in PR. I wouldn't be studying so hard if I didn't care, trust me, my math class is one of my least favorite parts of each day currently.
If I have the opportunity to stay home to be a full-time mom though...will I?
Let me answer that this way: the most influential people in my life, hands-down absolutely no questions are my parents & specifically my mom.
I call my mom all of the time to ask her advice or tell her about my day. She makes time for me and all of us kids. She has honestly sacrificed her life for us because without children, who knows what she'd be doing instead. Maybe she would be a highly respected teacher or business-woman. I don't know, but what I do know is she is a highly appreciated mom and I'm grateful for that.
Raising kids IS hard. I'm not speaking from experience (obviously) but from a time perspective alone, my mom works so hard for us from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed, generally dictated by our needs.
That my mom stayed home with us and my dad was able to support my family while I grew up is not the standard across families -- I know this. However, I expect that children from families with both parents working, or even a single parent home would say their parent(s) were also the most influential people/person in their lives.
So then it comes down to this, will I work? Yes at some point in my life I will work. Maybe for most of it, maybe only until I have children or likely some combination.
But as much as is possible, I want to focus my life on my (future) children and their needs.
Is that "giving up my life" or is that "empowering?"
I could make a difference in the work space. I really could. Maybe I will.
But as a mom, I know I will. For better of for worse a mother and father shape the world of their children. My parents taught and continue to teach me right and wrong, largely preparing me for the experiences I will and currently am experiencing.
So I say, with all my 20-year-old college student "power" I wish I had, being a woman and having the opportunity to be a mom is empowering.