Guest Post: Reconciling the Okay Mom and Anti-Mom

The more I spend time getting to know other LDS women, who are willing to give us a glimpse into their very personal lives, and how they faithfully strive to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the midst of the realities of everyday life (The honest kind, and not the cutesy life, that is often portrayed online; which for some may be true.) the greater respect I gain for their faithfulness and example, and desire to recommit myself in my own efforts to try just a little more, each day, to lift another along the way, too.

I see that quality in both of these covenant mothers who have agreed to share their thoughts on mothering in this post: Joyce Brinton Anderson and Stephanie Dibbs Sorenson; two strong voices for righteous principles. I love and respect both of these sisters and feel a great bond with each of them; bound tightly with our love for the truths of the gospel, and a commitment to the same covenants.






It's a pleasure to honor Joyce Brinton Anderson and Stephanie Dibbs Sorensen: two covenant mothers among women...



Joyce Brinton:




I go in and out of phases in my like of Mother’s Day. 

There have been years where I have loved it. There have been years, especially when I was in the throes of fertility issues, that I conveniently found myself in the ladies room hiding on Mother’s Day. This year I feel like I am on an “out” phase, and I have not been looking forward to Mother’s day at all. And I figured out why.






Reconciliation.

I am in a phase of reconciliation with motherhood and myself right now.

I am in the middle of figuring out what I want and who I want to be as a mom. Some might laugh at that, as I have a few kids and I’ve been doing this gig a few years now. But it’s true, just when I think I’ve got it down, I realize I don’t have it down and I need to reconcile what I know, with what I want to be, and where I am taking my family.

Here is the advice I am giving myself this Mother’s Day:

I am me, and I can be whatever kind of mom I choose or want or need to be. It’s ok that I am not a feminist. It’s ok that I have, wisely, given up arts and crafts. It’s ok that I am not trying to run a home business or trying to be involved with too much outside of my home. It’s ok that some days I don’t get dressed till after lunch and that I don’t really enjoy running around the park with my kids. It’s ok that I am happy to be a stay at home mom, even on the hard days. It’s ok that I never want to return to the job I had before I was a mom, and that if I do need or want to work in the future I can choose something different. And it’s ok that I can do things differently than my mom did when I was a kid. It’s ok that I do things differently than my friends or siblings do with their kids and it’s ok if I decide to change how I do things from time to time.

It is hard work to reconcile what the world expects of me, and what the LDS community expects of me, and what I expect of me, but I am slowly figuring it out. Some days are harder than others, and sometimes I feel like I am a spectacular failure, and that’s ok too. Just as long as I remember what Anne Shirley wisely said, “tomorrow is a brand new day with no mistakes in it” and that I can make tomorrow’s motherhood whatever I want it to be. 


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Joyce Brinton Anderson is a mother, wife, sister, school teacher, Bulgarian speaker, conservative, lover of good music, social media junky and sometimes a whole lot of trouble. She and the family reside in a remote mountain community where great discoveries have been made. When not changing the world, she enjoys the occasional bowl of chips and salsa.


You can also follow Joyce on Twitter: https://twitter.com/theatomicmom


Stephanie Dibbs Sorensen:


A while back, I came upon a headline in my news feed called “The Rise of TV’s ‘Anti-Mom’.” I don’t really recommend the article, but its main points alarmed me. It summarized the evolution of the way mothers are portrayed in popular television programs, tracing their history from Beaver’s mom and Donna Reed, to Carol Brady, Mrs. Huxtable, and then into Rosanne and some current mother characters in “Desperate Housewives” and “Modern Family.” 

The implications are obvious. What society expects from mothers has drastically changed. We now celebrate, cheer for, and empathize with what the article calls “flawed moms,”      claiming that the happy, organized mothers of the past “set up an atmosphere for women that was just impossible to actually stand by.” 




Reading the article made me sad. And it didn’t even touch on the dangerous “reality” TV moms. The very concept of “anti-mom” shows a shift from concern and care for others to an obsession with self and individualism. I immediately thought of Sister Julie Beck’s recent talk and this bold claim:

“A lot of the antifamily messages that you are hearing are targeting young women. Satan knows that he will never have a body; he will never have a family. He will target those young women who create the bodies for the future generations and who should teach the families. They don’t even know what they’re being taught in the messages. It’s just seeping in, almost through their pores. Because Satan can’t have it, he’s luring away many women, and also men, and they’re losing conīŦdence in their ability to form eternal families.

. . . . Anti-Christ is antifamily. Any doctrine or principle our youth hear from the world that is antifamily is also anti-Christ. It’s that clear. They need to know that if it’s antifamily, it’s anti-Christ. An anti-Christ is antifamily.”

I don’t have a large platform or a very loud voice, but my testimony demands that I defend the divinity of motherhood, and I just can’t keep my mouth shut. I know that motherhood is more than a job. It certainly requires more than an actress. It is a calling, a purpose, and a mission. And despite what the media chooses to portray, motherhood is powerful, important, and critical to the happiness of families and society in general. We need to reclaim our role as mothers who know. When we do it as a group, we can make a difference in the world. As a team, we can show our children and others’ children a better way of doing family. We can build a generation with tools for happiness and worthy of God’s blessings. We have to, because there’s simply no room for the “anti-mom” in Zion.

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Stephanie Dibbs Sorensen is a mother to three and teaches Church History and Doctrine at BYU. She blogs about finding faith in motherhood at her blog, Diapers and Divinity, and her new book, Covenant Motherhood, is available at most LDS retailers.



5 comments:

  1. Stephanie, thank you so much for writing this! I never knew why I hated how mothers were portrayed on TV, but this is it. They are so "anti-mom", and it's not like me or anyone I know. I also look forward to reading your book.

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  2. As you know Ezra Taft Benson counseled women to stay away from influences that degrade the role of women....30.years later those influences are all over the. Airwaves. We must be very careful and wise.

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  3. So I think I read the same article and I kind of read it a different way. I see how it could be seen in the light you share, but to some degree, it feels a little like what we hear in the Church -- that is, that it's ok not to be perfect.

    I must be missing something (we don't watch network or cable TV, and there's a reason for that, so maybe the shows themselves are what is so caustic?) Are they portrayed as hating motherhood?

    Stephanie, you know I fully agree with all the quotes and thoughts about the doctrine of motherhood. I guess I don't understand the anti-mom thing. Because that article to me said more "it's ok to be a flawed mom" and I agree with that! ;)

    Lil' help?

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    1. I understand your point, Michelle, and you know that I have long railed against the idea that we need to be perfect moms, but I'm saddened that in the effort to acknowledge "real" moms, there seems to be a growing celebration of "a host of TV mothers [that] are now yelling, smothering or just plain neglectful.(from the article)" In a time when Heavenly Father is telling his daughters to face the challenges of the world with courage and determination and purpose, I guess I feel like society and media are holding up these excessively flawed TV moms in a way that justifies selfishness and almost denies the serious and sacred nature of their role. And frankly, I just hate the term 'anti-mom'.

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    2. Thanks for the response. I even missed that line in the article, so that probably explains some of my confusion.

      I have been thinking of the quote from Because She is a Mother" by Elder Holland and how he talks about giving our *best* to motherhood. I'm so grateful for your voice and what you are doing to help women understand some of the doctrine of motherhood.

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