My response to this article.
If you're Mormon, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about when I write the phrase, "Relief Society Voice." For those of you who aren't Mormon, let me explain.
Twice a year, the LDS Church holds it's semi-annual General Conference. Basically, the leaders of the church, men and women alike, give talks to members all over the world from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The talks are broadcast on the internet, on television (even on basic cable in Maine), on the radio, and everyone is encouraged to listen to each of the four two-hour sessions.
The female speakers, who tend to hail from the West, all seem to have the exact same sing-songy voice, or as it's commonly coined, "Relief Society Voice." Even my father-in-law, who is the Momonest Mormon in the whole entire universe, can sometimes be seen quietly excusing himself from the room when the "Relief Society Voice" comes on. It's a great time to refill your bowl of peanuts.
Now don't get me wrong, the talks given by the women are usually the best talks of them all. But the voices, ohhhhh the voices, are not so easy to swallow. Usually, I end up reading their talks after the fact because I love the content, I just don't love to listen to them. They're deep and insightful and lots of times they make me cry--but only when I take 'em in through the church magazine. The audio brings me to tears in an entirely different way.
There's this particular talk called "Hold On" by Ann M. Dibb that's become one of my favorites. I've used it over and over and over in Sunday School lessons and Seminary because the message is completely powerful, but hoo boy, it's a perfect example of this phenomenon.
As reluctant as I feel to do this (because it's a great talk, she's an amazing woman, and I don't want people making fun of someone who's trying her damnedest to make the world a much better place), here's the link to the talk on Youtube. You only have to watch the first minute to see how cheerful! Sister! Dibb! is! as she describes a completely tragic accident.
I'm sure she was nervous, and in the end her talk has a positive, encouraging message. But the tone and the voice is really kind of strange.
And really kind of normal for middle-aged Mormon women.
You don't hear it so much in Maine, but you hear it a lot when visitors come from out West, and I heard a whole mess of it in Texas. Enough to last me a lifetime. Also enough to lead me down the path of swearing.
But this voice, this Relief Society Voice (by the way, Relief Society is the name of the women's organization of the LDS Church), never ever comes out of the mouth of a thirty-something female Mormon. The voices is saved for women who are forty and up--and probably more like fifty and up.
So what happened to the Relief Society Voice? Where did it go? Why has my generation failed to carry it on? It's a well-known fact that that energy can't be created or destroyed--and this voices appears to take a hell of a lot of energy--so really now, where has this energy gone?
Clearly, the voice has morphed, and it's taken on the form of the current day Mormon Mommy Blog.
You might know what I'm talking about. They have three or four kids, they haven't hit thirty, they're beautiful, and they bake. Considering all these factors, why should today's Mormon women be so sing-songy? Makes no sense when they can make a blog header with little happy birds, and a model-looking husband, and kids with perfectly mismatched clothes.
These blogs portray perfection. And you know what? No one is perfect. These blogs place an intentional slant on life. I doubt that those fifty-year-old Mormon women used to yell at their kids with happy! happy! princess! voices! And I know for a fact that these picture-perfect bloggers aren't happy! happy! happy! day in and day out.
I don't consider my blog to be the typical Mormon Mommy Blog--or a Mormon Mommy Blog at all, but to be fair, I'll admit that my blog is just as slanted as theirs' are. They paint it to look like their husbands fart flowers, and I've pretty well convinced you all that I'm the life of the Tupperware party. Trust me, I'm not. Total party dud....right here.
I wrote about a tween flashback sometime last week, and a couple of commenters couldn't believe it was true. "How," they questioned, "can so many funny things happen to just one person?"
Well, I guess I could have summed it up this way, to make it sound more believable:
Once upon a time there was a really frazzled mom on my street. Her kid was an only child and he was bored. She paid me five bucks a week to take him up to the park and play so he wouldn't be so annoying. The End.
But that's no fun, now is it? These Mormon Mommy Bloggers are doing a really similar thing. The only difference is, they have some serious photography skills.
If I had to guess, those girls watched Sleeping Beauty when they were little, and wished, wished, wished for a prince of their very own. I, on the other hand, watched Pee Wee's Playhouse diligently, and still want a set of talking chairs so, so, so, so badly.
Different perspectives, same degree of slant.
Bottom line? These girls are sugar coating the sh!t out of their lives. And maybe I am, too.
Do Mormons tend to be happy people? I guess so. I think most people who find truth and meaning in their religion (or community, or a cause) tend to be happy--at least most of the time. But we haven't cornered the market on happiness, or family fun, or cute husbands. And as much as Mormons value motherhood, we haven't cornered the market on the fact-of-life either.
I was Catholic for my first twenty years, and trust me, that whole Mary thing? That's some very powerful stuff when it comes to venerating the role of mothers.
And don't even get me started on my super hippy friends. They not only stay home with their kids--they sleep with their kids, cloth diaper their kids, grow food for their kids, knit hats for their kids, nurse their kids forever, write songs for their kids on the guitar, and you get the picture.
It's an absolute true fact that Mormons have something that outsiders don't. We believe certain things that make atheists roll their eyes and give some born again Christians a nervous twitch. But every religion has a richness that other religions don't--and if you believe what you're devoting your existence to, chances are, you'll be very happy.
But just because you're happy, don't expect to have kids who wear Mini-Boden, and a perfectly decorated house, and vintage party dresses, and perky boobs, and an insane sewing talent.
Because that? Well that's art. And Photoshop101 is the prerequisite.
(Aaaaaand commence with the hateration. Or the love. Either way.)