Sunday, September 16, 2018

Mormon Mothers

Skylar told me last night that he thinks "scolding" is a super power of Mormon mothers.

I had never heard this opinion from him, or anyone, but I implicitly agreed with him before taking a moment to blurt out, "wait; why?"

Skylar isn't from Utah. His exposure to mass Mormonism is a relatively recent aspect of his 28-year life. In fact, his first real visit (read: not an airport layover) was in late 2015. He was living in Wisconsin at the time. He started visiting Salt Lake City with some regularity that year because I'm very attractive and he couldn't help himself.

Uncovering Utah's uniqueness for him since then has been a surprisingly delightful experience for me. Most of this is because he has approached everything in our great state with nothing more than a polite and respectful curiosity.

Believe me when I say this is rare around these parts. Most people I know in Utah have very strong opinions, in one direction or another, about Mormonism and, specifically, Mormons. This is true of people who move here as well. They decide how they feel about the place before they get here and then they find whatever evidence they can to support their belief.

I've gotten a little fatigued with this over the years. Mostly because for myself, I don't think any group of people or religion can be simplified into an "all good" or "all bad" category. In my state, the issue is frequently approached from very polarized points-of-view, none of which resonate with me. But even more, I have just totally lost interest in the topic, to the point that when friends bring it up I now instinctively start checking out in my head and thinking about things that I care about: LIKE CAKE.

To be sure, some aspects or Mormon culture and practice are not things I particularly love. But the wonderful thing is I get to choose what I believe and how I live and I decided years ago that I wasn't going to waste one ounce of energy being bitter about the rest. I've got too many other wonderful things in my life to give my attention to waste it on feeling bad that someone has a different idea than me.

(My one exception is anyone who puts pineapple on pizza. Those people can rot in hell.)

As you might be able to imagine, being a big fat homo in the Salt Lake City dating scene can pose some real challenges vis-a-vis all of the above. For totally understandable reasons, my dating pool was filled with people who were very bitter or very conflicted and wanted to talk about Mormonism and Mormons, constantly.

So it was refreshing to meet Skylar, who had absolutely no opinion or emotion about any religion or religious group, "besides the Methodists, because I went once and they gave me mini muffins."

And so, with that, I started showing him around the town, and answering his completely one-dimensional questions and listening to his observations about this thing I'm so used to that I forget that I'm used to it, and all of those observations are so innocent and so loose that they barely constitute an opinion and it is so refreshing.

And that's why his declaration that scolding is a super power for Mormon mothers caught me off-guard.

I tried to remember whether Cathie has ever scolded Skylar in my presence. But then I realized he could have just been referring to his observations of the many Mormon mothers we know, like Meg, who scolds me with some regularity and, admittedly, with great proficiency.

Then he reminded me that he grew up with a Mormon family across the street, and that the matriarch of that family was like a second mom to him. It was this woman he was thinking of when he awarded Mormon mothers the accolade.

I asked him what made her a good scolder; he said that she knew how to use guilt in a way that was much more powerful than yelling could ever be. Lectures. Conversations where she asked things like "how do you think that makes your brother feel about himself when you say things like that?"  And on many occasions, he reports, just driving by and shouting generally through an open car window "you should be ASHAAAAAAAAaaaaaamed!"

Not satisfied with being restricted to having power over only humans, she once chastised Skylar's family dog so effectively that the dog peed in fear.

I think they teach this in Relief Society.

Now please enjoy this week's Strangerville:


This time in Strangerville, Meg and Eli talk about DRUGS. Also, never ask Eli for a favor.
Story
Gift Exchange, by Eli McCann
Production by Eli McCann and Preg Walter.


~It Just Gets Stranger

52 comments:

  1. I need to go to that Relief Society lesson. My children are wild, adorable, monster-angels. You've met them.

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  2. That theory about teaching scolding is utterly ridiculous and honestly kind of offensive. Of course we do NOT teach scolding in Relief Society.

    ... because that wouldn't be nearly enough time to gain proficiency for those women who marry and procreate as teenagers. We teach it in Young Women's. Obviously.

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    1. Mind. Blown. So what the Hell happens in Relief Society then?

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    2. That's advanced level guilt tripping with a side of female emotional hand holding while still convincing each other that living unquestioningly under the patriarchy is a good idea. Because no one knows what women need more than old, white, upper middle class men in suits.

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    3. Or knitting. I'm not really sure, I haven't been a few months. They could be the luminati these days for all I know.

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    4. In singles wards it's crafting competitions and lessons on all the attributes you need to work on if you're going to convince one of the three hot eligible guys in the ward to put a ring on it.

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    5. Hanna just wait until you get to the mid-singles ward. It's a special kind of hell designed to punish you for not being married yet, or *gasp* having the nerve to be divorced or widowed. Seriously very, very special.

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    6. Hanna, statistically, 4 of those 3 hot eligible guys are gay.

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    7. I get to teach RS on Sunday! And I get to pick my topic. This is giving me all sorts of ideas.

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    8. The Suzzzzz - I plan to just skip the mid-singles ward entirely and convince some family ward to let me hang out with the babies.

      And Eli - I know. I'm even good friends with one of the 3. The trick is to go online and poach the non-gay hot eligible guy from a different ward (which is what I successfully did).

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    9. Yeah and the 4th one is somewhere on the autism spectrum...or in my case, probably related to me. Single, straight, Utah Mormon guys over the age of 35 tend to be a bit weird and socially inept. The normal ones are unicorns and do not actually exist.

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    10. Hanna- you have 3 hot eligible guys in your singles ward?! That sounds magical. The last time I went to a singles activity, there were 3 guys total, and I'd be hard-pressed to call any of them hot. And The Suzz- yes, mid-singles wards are soul crushing. I gave up on them years before I met my husband and just went to the family ward down the street. But I'd still try to go to the firesides and FHE every now and then, under the assumption that I had a better chance of meeting guys there than on my couch watching tv, but it turned out my social interactions were much happier and more postive when I was alone on my couch eating cookies than when I went to a singles activity and saw the demographic I was supposedly a part of.

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    11. Hanna the whole reason I went to a mid-singles ward in the first place was to avoid the family ward I lived in. I was getting an uncomfortable amount of pity/sympathy from the women in the ward about my divorce and the ward had 3 nurseries that I wanted to avoid being called to. Kids and Marines, you love your own, everyone else's are obnoxious.

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    12. The Suzzzzz, that is a very good point. People are terrible and people's children are also terrible. I have a whole lot of thoughts about how the church needs to do better at focusing on the actual gospel instead of the gospel of marriage...

      Carolyn, yes, there are three hot eligible guys in my ward, but only one of them has any kind of personality, and he is actually gay.

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    13. Hanna, some people do great in nursery & primary, I am not one of those people. Now if they had a nursery for people's dogs I'd sign up for that in a heartbeat. In the mid-singles ward I'm supposed to attend if you take away all the guys who have serious mental illness, are mentally handicapped, guys that I've gotten to know and don't want to date, and guys that I am related to it leaves about 3 guys to choose from and there is no way in hell that I would date any of them. There's a reason why I watch a lot of tv.

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    14. The Suzzzz, I think a nursery for dogs is a FANTASTIC idea. I'd sign a petition for that any day.

      And, I hope that TV at least isn't as disappointing as the guys in your ward. YSA wards are preachy RM hell, but they're not quite mid-singles ward level. :(

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    15. Yeah the men of Supernatural haven't let me down yet.

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    16. Supernatural, still haven't jumped onto that ship yet, but I have been sorely tempted. Is it worth it, really? Or is it super drama angsty emotional drain? (I'd probably still watch it if you told me to, but take it slower so I didn't sap all my emotional reserves)

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    17. So worth it Amy. I binged watched 11 seasons when I was sick last year. So. Worth. It.

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    18. Amy, it really doesn't require much from the viewer. It's a cross between lightweight family drama and a buddy cop comedy set in the backdrop of a scary movie. It's not great art but it's funny and entertaining and there are attractive people to look out so if you get bored you can just enjoy the view.

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  3. Skylar is not wrong. As a Mormon mother I have mastered and used the “guilt trip” against my own child and countless others as an elementary school teacher.

    Secondly. Preg Walter is a genius nickname and I hope you call her that to her face. I imagine it would bring out the dragon voice.

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  4. Growing up in New Jersey, it was the Jewish mothers who had that same rep. The local radio station had what they called a Jewish Mother Sweater Alert if the temp dropped a few degrees from the previous day.

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  5. I lived in Wisconsin at that time!! What part was he living in?

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  6. I will admit I have some opinions about Mormons . . . My mother was raised Mormon and very bitterly left the church when she was 16. My grandmother disengaged sometime thereafter and was disengaged most of my life until about 3 years before her death when she became stoutly religious again. My father's side was Catholic and didn't like that he remarried after his first wife left him with four kids. He was excommunicated because he married a second time without having the first marriage annulled (I don't think that's how that's actually spelled . . .). My great aunt once called me that "bastard child of the Mormon whore" - - never mind that my parents were legally married when I was born or that my mother was an atheist by this point. So I have some opinions about Catholics too.

    In college my best friend became a Mormon (her dad's side was Mormon). I was wholly replaced in her life by this group of Mormons whom I had little to nothing in common with and would look at me in judgement when I consumed alcohol or caffeine. This spurred more opinions about Mormons.

    This being said, when you came out to us on the blog it was not a big deal to me at all - other than you finally felt comfortable enough to do so and that was cool. However, I'd already gotten hooked on your blog when I discovered you were a Mormon and THAT was a hurdle for me to get past. I really try NOT to be a judgemental person but I'll admit, I was judgemental when it came to Mormons.

    You have helped me past that. You (and the many other Mormon Strangers I've connected with along the way) have helped me to embrace that not everyone from this religious viewpoint is the same, and, just as with my own faith, people who consider themselves Mormon don't necessarily fall into the definition of Mormon that I've created in my head. Just as I do with any religion I need to get to know the person for who they are, not the label that they may come with.

    Thank you for that.

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    1. You have so many more reasons for having ALL THE FEELINGS about these religions, but I appreciate the way you articulated them, and that they have been challenged and changed by the interactions you have had on Stranger. There are a number of similarities to my own experience here.

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    2. STOP DRINKING THE DEVIL'S DRINK, NICOLE.

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    3. Oh - and I should mention that I agree with Skylar - My mother may have left the church but she learned the art of scolding before doing so and man was she a pro!

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    4. Eli you're not a mormon mother, stop scolding Nicole. She can drink her sinner fun juice if she wants to.

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    5. Well, I can still scold. I'm just not good at it because I never went through the training.

      P.S. Nicole, it makes me really happy that this space has given you a fuller perspective on a group of people that I happen to quite like, even if they do drive me crazy most of the time.

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    6. Which explains why I took a sip of my coffee after reading Eli's admonishment. Had Cathie or my own mother said that to me, I would have immediately dumped all the liquor and caffeine in the house!

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  7. Both my parents were masters of the guilt trip. I think "I'm so disappointed in you" was drilled into my brain from the beginning. Now that my parents are gone, I just guilt myself constantly--I should have done that better, why did I say that, etc. Someday my goal is to actually feel like I'm good enough.

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  8. 1. Not to nitpick or anything, but we aren't "Mormon" anymore? So, I don't actually even know how you would phrase this, it's something I haven't figured out yet. Anyone know?

    2. Some of these comments are making me feel a little sad. I just want to hug everyone, and invite them to my home for a nice, home cooked meal and fresh baked bread and free hugs and a three legged dog who loves snuggles and most of all to tell you YOU ARE ENOUGH. Full stop.

    3. (but... maybe that's why my kids are angel monsters and not perfectly well behaved princesses?)

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    1. We asked Cathie about the "Mormon" thing a few weeks ago and she said in the Cathie-McCann-tellin-it-like-it-is voice, "oh, they tried this years ago; it didn't work then and it's not going to work now."

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    2. I've heard Mormons referred to as LDSers . . . but I personally think that's too close to LSDers and you might give people the wrong idea . . .

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    3. I think we'd be more fun if we did drop acid, just sayin'...

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  9. Not to focus on the wrong thing, but...about pineapple. You need to be tolerant as you have asked people to be tolerant of Tami. Yes, its an abomination but its part of life. Someone making this comment is OLD and her favorite pizza ingredient ever, pepperoni, has started trying to kill her. So no more pepperoni and on to the milder ham and pineapple. Although I will admit the first time someone tried to feed me that, I thought they were trying to kill me. But many years later, its what I can tolerate best. I beg for your acceptance and that you might reconsider telling me to rot in hell. Thanks for your time and consideration.

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    1. Solidarity for the ham and pineapple people! Here's my story: I'm a pepperoni girl, through and through. I have one brother who always had to have the ham and pineapple - and even though he was only one against the majority, we always got equal portions which NEVER MADE SENSE to me growing up until one day, to my utter dismay and consternation I realized, it's tasty. Sometimes, once or twice or ten times, I have even chosen it OVER pepperoni. Growing up is weird, man.

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    2. AMY!!!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! I can't even believe what I'm reading! You've SWITCHED SIDES?!

      My oldest daughter likes pineapple on pizza. Sigh. I make it for her sometimes, but it NEVER EVER passes my lips.

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    3. I like pineapple on pizza (sweet and salty is my jam). I have to say that pineapple and ham is too highly regarded, though--the best combination, in my not-so-humble opinion, is pineapple and bacon.

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    4. BACON?! TEN THOUSAND HELLS FOR BRANDON!

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    5. Nope, you're all wrong...except Brandon, he's partially right. Best.Pizza.Ever: Thin crust, garlic alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, bacon, fresh tomatoes, spinach.

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    6. Ok, I'm absolutely with Brandon on the bacon thing. But it really isn't as common, so I usually only get that when I make pizza at home.

      And Mimi, I know, I know. Sometimes I don't even know who I am anymore, like... I don't always choose mint chocolate chip ice cream anymore, either. I tend towards caramel these days and I don't know how I really feel about it. Growing up is weird, MAN!

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    7. Caramel!!

      Okay. I can handle you growing up and changing. It’s just sad that I live too far away to learn these changes when they happen.

      Sigh. Hashtag I accept the new you

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  10. adding pineapple to any type of pizza is a lil slice of heaven. especially pineapple and jalepeno with a drizzle of ranch. so I guess I will enjoy my lil slice of heaven in one of the awesome fire brick ovens of hell. enjoy your day!

    Heather in Cali

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  11. To add another comment about Relief Society, I'm on my Relief Society's "Decoration Committee" for an activity happening in November. I got a group text today asking us to pray and ponder about how we can convey the topics of peace and serenity through the decorations.

    I am going to suggest pink. Lots and lots of light pink. I want this church gym to look like the inside of a vagina. Nothing really conveys peace and serenity more than stylized womanhood, am I right?

    If that gets shot down, then my backup suggestion is a large blown-up image of Jason Alexander screaming "SERENITY NOW!"

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    1. Are the colors you are thinking of using called Blush & Bashful? That last idea is golden. I got a text from the current RS president last night asking me to help with refreshments for the RS activity tomorrow night. I haven't been on the activities committee for almost a year and I haven't sat through Relief Society let alone been to a mid week activity since the start of the year.

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    2. I think I've been to Relief Society a total of three times in 2018.

      Also, maybe you should consider taking something like this: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/aa/79/64/aa7964ebe0c8a1c5215fd4ca3022f2a2.jpg

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    3. Oh man, The Suzzzz please take Hanna's idea, and report back on it's effectiveness.

      Also, this makes me a little sad. I've been fortunate enough to be in some pretty good RS meetings.

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    4. Sarah, I'm not a joiner, I don't like crowds (especially large groups of women), organized religion has always made me uncomfortable (even as a very small child), and the whole group chanting thing from YW put me off meetings for life. Group chanting just freaks me out, whether it's an OM in yoga class or reciting the YW values or other. Just.No.

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