As we celebrate our third anniversary we continue sharing your stories, your experiences with Aspiring Mormon Women.
I was raised in a loving, supportive LDS family in which I was taught to aspire to motherhood, to love learning and excel at my education, but eschew anything resembling a career. This life philosophy worked fine for me until I graduated from BYU unmarried. After a few years of low-paying jobs within my “family-friendly” field of study, I returned to school for an MPA and took a career-track job as an analyst– all the while still hoping to “meet the one and just be a mom.”
It wasn’t until 8 years later, as a stay-at-home mom with two toddlers, that I began to question my assumptions about stay-at-home motherhood for my own family. My husband fights anxiety and depression; high expectations that I manage our home and young children to minimize his stress created a situation in which I couldn’t win. I clung to my volunteer work as a place where I could succeed, soak in the inspiring environment and return home as a happier mom for my kids. It was during this time I learned about Aspiring Mormon Women.
I joined the AMW discussion forum right away and began to read. I soaked up articles and discussions about gender “roles,” aspirational shame, childcare dilemmas and experiences at church. I attended meet-ups where I made connections that continue to feed my soul and encourage me. I felt the Lord was pouring out a blessing of acceptance and approval as I considered a different course for my family. I decided I wanted to work part-time and began to look for the right opportunity.
A move brought me back to the area where I began my professional career. A former co-worker immediately invited me to work as a part-time contractor and the perfect childcare arrangement fell into place. Though it’s only part of the solution for my family, I am thriving in this arrangement. Throughout this transition, the AMW community has provided resources, advice, support and validation. AMW helped me find the words to defend my choices without being defensive and courage to continually share my experiences in the hope of helping other women on a similar path.
At present, I am a stay-at-home mom AND a part-time consultant AND volunteer president of the Las Vegas Women’s Network AND an enthusiastic advocate for AMW.
I don’t remember when I first came across AMW. I do, however, remember always feeling somewhat out of sorts as a Mormon woman. I joined the church at the age of 27, and hadn’t realized the demographic difficulties of dating at that age. So my path was not one that was extensively discussed in official church discourse. I finished graduate school, I went back overseas, I married a non-member, and then returned to Washington DC. Here I’m on more familiar ground – yet to find, as Anne Shirley calls it, “kindred spirits,” was still a rare phenomenon.
I’m glad that AMW exists so that I can meet, online and in person, other kindred spirits, although AMW still reflects the InterMountain West rather than the rest of the Mormon world. I am gratified to read of other women who struggled with the time constraints of demanding jobs and demanding callings, or grappled with the church teachings that have not always kept up with modern family life. I was thrilled to see profiles of women who pursued non-traditional fields, or who went to non-church schools. I love reading and hearing of examples of following personal revelation on important family decisions, whether it was on school and career, or on which parent would stay home. I was honored that my tweet was featured during the “Embrace your AND” campaign.
I like the word “aspiring.” Somehow it is less threatening than, say, “ambitious” or “motivated.” “Aspiring” to me is similar to “striving,” but with a dose of modesty. We are all aspiring – to be Christ-like, to serve others, to improve ourselves – in fact, in our scriptures we were essentially placed on earth to do “aspire.” AMW is a place for me to aspire, and to be inspired – thank you AMW!
Interested in sharing your AMW story? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and write #myAMWstory in the subject line.
As always, we would love if you would invite other aspiring Mormon women to like our Facebook page and invite them to join our discussion forum (nearly 1800 women strong). You can also find and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.