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The extraordinary role of women

Graphic of woman with various icons representing jobs women do.
Women try to balance many roles, but each woman has to figure out her own path. Photo credit: Aubree Eckhardt

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have seen many strong examples of what women can accomplish. But, I have also seen many who judge others in our religion because others’ success looks different from their own.

In any field, women face challenges. Personally, I have seen people question my choices about pursuing a major in
Multimedia Journalism, but I have also seen lots of support.

I firmly believe women shouldn’t be put in a box. I believe each of us has the potential to change the world in our own way. That may look different from person to person, and, as a society, we need to stop shaming women because their paths may look different than our own.

Being a woman looks different for every single person. It comes with great responsibility, but many lose part of their identity as life takes over.

Having a sense of self is extremely important and our identity should not be rooted in having a significant other or a family. But those things can be very important to some women, and some attribute success by raising a family.

My current path in life will not look the same as someone else’s. As I spoke with other women, I came to see that just because we see others as successful doesn’t mean they picture themselves in that light. We may see their life as joyful and long to be in that position, but they may feel trapped, longing for it to pass.

My hope in writing this is to showcase that women can do just about anything. They can accomplish so many things while being a mother, running a business and making a difference in the world.

Morgan Jones

Morgan Jones is the host of the LDS Living podcast ‘All In,’ works for Deseret News, graduated from BYU and interviewed many important people in and out of the LDS community.

Jones is a single 31-year-old, and she said others have looked at her as successful because she has devoted her life to her work, but others say without a family, she doesn’t have anything else to do.

Jones mentioned that she likes getting into new projects, but she never thought she would be working on a podcast for LDS Living. She didn’t go into her education hoping to be a career woman.

“Guilt typically comes to people who are wives or mothers,” Jones said. “That people like you should be in your home, and I feel that I have never gotten that because I’m not a wife or a mother.”

Jones used to joke with her boss that once she did get pregnant, she wouldn’t be coming back to work, but now, in this part of her life, she views it differently.

“Now I view it as a part of my life, just as much as being a wife or a mother will be a part of my life,” Jones said.

She added she has seen many different coworkers who have wanted to come back to work and changed their minds and vice versa.

Through coworkers, she has seen that there is a stigma around women being in the home.

She quotes Eva Witesman, an associate professor at BYU, who argues that the idea women have been asked to stay solely within the home is false. Witesman says that her children and family come first, but she teaches them by setting a strong example with her own work.

Jones maintained that being comfortable with oneself is valuable.

There was one point after Jones returned home from her mission where she realized she didn’t know how to do — what she saw — as important life tasks. However, after purchasing her first car, Jones said she realized being able to look back and say you made it through that scary or hard time in your life can be really rewarding, whether it comes from being a mom, being divorced or — in her case — being single.

“The majority of the time we have no control over what season we’re in,” Jones said.

In her life, she has struggled with being single but has come to realize that God really does have a plan for her and all of us. Through this season, even if she doesn’t see it as rewarding, there will be blessings to come.

Lexie Call

Lexie Call, is a student at UVU pursuing a health care administration major, a business management minor and working on a certificate in gerontology.

While juggling her school responsibilities, Call also currently works with senior citizens at Covington Assisted Living in Orem, Utah. Call started out her education pursuing nursing, but quickly realized that though she loves working with the seniors, she also wanted to know more about the management and inner workings of the whole center.

Call and her husband have both participated in higher education, but Call still desires starting a family.

“I have for sure felt pressure to start a family. Getting married at 19, everyone thought I would have a kid by 21. I am 23, making really good money and happily married,” Call said.

When she does have a child, the decision to continue working will be one she may have a hard time making.

“I love to work, but I know I will love being a mom,” Call said.

She and her husband want to be financially stable when they start their family. While working full-time, she has also seen her marriage improve.

Call said that when she was home more, she just waited for her husband to get home and had a hard time being by herself.

“Since working, I have been able to figure out what I like to do alone, and what I need my husband for,” Call said. “Having my own separate career, I feel like I know my position and where I stand in all relationships now.”

I asked Call why she personally felt it was important to stop judging and ridiculing other women whose lives look differ from our own.

“Letting women choose how they want to parent, what job they choose and how to feed their babies is so important and empowering,” Call said.

She added that no one asks about the real important questions, especially when getting married young. Call added that the world would be a better place if people stopped questioning why others make the choices they do.

Jennifer Thompson

Owning a business, raising four kids and going back to school could seem overwhelming to some, but for Jenn Thompson, it’s just her everyday life.

Owning her own business wasn’t something Thompson dreamed of.

“Kasey was getting furloughed through work and we had four small kids, so I did something I could do from home, and that was sew,” Thompson said.

Thompson never expected her home job to become a full-blown business, but she says it has changed the way she approaches life now, many years later.

While she is a full-time mom and business owner, Thompson has also decided to pursue one of her other passions and return to school. She is currently focusing on a degree in family and marriage science with an emphasis in psychology.

Thompson and her husband almost lost their oldest child, and after that earth-shattering experience with mental health, Thompson’s perspective changed. She says the challenge has been balancing the life of being a mom, owning a business and her schooling.

“When Shawnee went through what she did, I owned two businesses and was very focused on the success of them. Almost losing her made me realize that no amount of success was worth losing a child,” Thompson said.

She didn’t always know she wanted a family. Because of her upbringing, she was scared to be a mom, but because of her husband and their marriage, she felt it was now a possibility.

Thompson saw the judgmental side of peers when her and her daughter went through their mental health crisis; she said people would tell her it was her fault and that she wasn’t paying her daughter enough attention.

Thompson said that it hurt her, but she is learning to try her best and not let other’s opinions affect her parenting.

“I feel, as a woman, I have so much to give to society. Being a mother to four different people has made me realize how much women give,” Thompson said. “Each person has an individual path. Follow that path, follow your dreams and focus on the life that is in front of you.”

My experience

In my own short time of marriage, I have seen many of my family, friends and coworkers ask me about what my next step in life is. I think that regardless of what answer I give, they should be supportive. My path is my path, and it will not look the same as Lexie, Morgan, Jenn or any other woman.

Our timeline is our own, and while I believe that God has a plan for me, others may not. We do not need to conform to fit someone else’s view. These women are women I look up to and have shown qualities that I admire.

Do I look up to them because they fit my idea of perfect? No.

Do I look up to them because, despite obstacles, they show resilience and have great faith? Absolutely.

Being a woman is a high and noble calling in my eyes. There is not, and never will be, one correct way to be a woman. Watching my mother, aunts, family friends and my own friends, I have seen each one carve their own path, even if they felt pressure from others to change.

I’ve seen moms raise their kids knowing how to handle their emotions more fully. I have seen women writing novels and helping others to think while they stayed home with their children. I have seen young women long for a different season, but push through and become stronger. I have seen working women run a business and juggle all life’s challenges at the same time.

Changing the world should not look the same for everyone. How would the world around us change if we all looked and acted the same?

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