part-time and half-lives


I felt like I needed a break from the internet. Do you ever feel that way? I even deleted my Facebook account for about....34 hours. (I really enjoy Facebook, all right?) I thought about explaining why I needed a break from the internet, but then I recognized that potential post as the most boring thing ever.(Life! Transitions! Sad feelings! Happy feelings!) So instead you get a blurb, and an update. Woot to you, good sirs and madams. Here's what is new with me:

School started again. Would you like to read about my schedule? I teach four classes instead of six, and I only work on B days. (High school schedules have four classes on A days, and four different classes on B days.) So for the first few weeks of school, by the miracle of Labor Day, I only had to teach 4 times. Things are a little  bit busier now, but I like part time teaching for the time being. It was really important to me to go back to work, but I'm glad (and very aware* of how privileged** I am,) to have a gig where I spend lots of time with  Clara Chubzilla and lots of time with squirrelly teens.

Clara goes to a daycare at my school, and she copes by either sleeping a lot, or not sleeping at all and screaming a lot. One time I went to collect her and an anxious looking teen was holding her and bouncing her up and down. As she carefully passed her over, she sighed and stretched out her arm, wincing. "My arm has been asleep for the last hour, but I didn't want to put her down or she would start screaming again." Sheesh. Sorry teen, hope that helps you remember to play it safe should you ever decide to engage in adult relationships with a romantic partner.

The moral of the story? Hopefully Clara adapts to daycare soon, and I really, really, enjoy my job. I was away for a long time, and I have less on my plate this year, so I've really been able to enjoy working. The class dynamics have been pretty positive so far, and I love what I teach, and I feel really alive and happy when a lesson goes particularly well, or a student says something truly insightful.

Every summer I debate about my job. It is hard, and stressful, and the pay is bullshit. But the first few weeks of school always suck me back in. I love my job. Every September I remember the sixteen-year- old girl who sat in AP U.S. History beaming as she realized she was good at learning. And ten years later she has her own classroom, and her students are watching her because, damn, she has great teacher presence, and that woman and those students are learning together. I'm still beaming, and it is a dream come true, and I'm glad I stuck with it.

This feeling? I want Clara to have it. Whatever it is that makes her feel just a little bit more alive than she felt when she woke up. I hope I show her that, when she watches me work, that what I am doing helps me feel more alive, and she deserves that feeling too.

You know what really helps one appreciate being a woman and having something that makes one feel alive? Reading The Feminine Mystique for book club last month. I felt enraged and discouraged, but happy and hopeful the whole time I read it. I've lived in worlds where I was forced to accept "The Problem That Has No Name," as inevitable, and even as a godly trial. To fight against that constantly, and to fight against that for my child, is exhausting. But as Betty Friedan so beautifully put it, before women started fighting for freedom, "Only men had the freedom to love, and enjoy love, and decide for themselves in the eyes of their God the problems of right and wrong. Did women want these freedoms because they wanted to be men? Or did they want them because they also were human?" Amen, Betty, amen.

A few weeks ago, someone left a comment on my blog, (and to be fair, I'm unsure of the intended tone,) about women wanting the Priesthood. "Is Priesthood Envy the new Penis Envy? Just askin'?"

I ignored the comment because I don't think that person meant it as a question. I think they were stating something they believed to be fact, and by reducing female ordination to a flippant comment about female pettiness, they might not have to think about it anymore.

But I guess I'm not ignoring it now, just long enough to say that Penis Envy (and it's various incarnations, including Priesthood Envy,) is a stupid myth meant to demonize feminism and shut down meaningful discourse between people. Women do not want equality so that they can be men. Women want equality, as Friedan points out, so that we can be human. We do not want your body parts, we want your rights and privileges, which in the case of Priesthood, are granted based on those body parts.

I am lucky that I have a job and a life that most of the time, helps me feel alive. But there are so many women who still feel "stopped at a stage of evolution far short of their human capacity" (Friedan). Sometimes they feel like me, that their spiritual evolution stopped when they turned 12, or when they went through the temple, or when they had a good idea, but no "Presiding Priesthood Authority" to fight for them. Wherever you fall on the question of feminism, or the question of female ordination in your church, you should stop thinking of these movements and questions as an attempt to take something from someone else. (Penises, Priesthood, authority, etc.)

Instead, you should start seeing these movements and questions as what they are: the simple desire to feel human. To feel more alive.

So that's what's new with me.

*Liberal blogger buzzword alert! Aware, AND **Privilege! Bam.


Katrina said...

"Instead, you should start seeing these movements and questions as what they are: the simple desire to feel human. To feel more alive."

Awomen, Stephanie. Awomen. ;-)

mandorama said...

You really are sooooo petty for wanting to be treated with the same dignity as your penile counterpart. Unbelievable. ;)

Also, Clara will adjust to daycare soon. It just takes time.

Steven and Wendy OBryant said...

I think babysitting is one of the best forms of birth control. This made me laugh hard and I'm glad you're enjoying the best of both worlds! I was forced to attend Relief Society a few weeks ago because none of my primary kids showed up. I tried not to take it personally and sat next the most sarcastic friend I could find in the RS room. Of course we got on the topic of working moms. One girl, who doesn't have children yet, got a bit upset and said something along the lines of, "Why can't we just do it all? I'm going to be a great mother and great worker. I'm going to do it all. I don't get why more women don't do both and be extremely successful at both?!" To which another woman who annoys the heck out of me on a regular basis responded... "I'm a working mom and it's just not possible. You'll never be great at both. One day you'll be a rockstar at your job, but your family will suffer. One day you'll be an amazing mom, but your job wont receive as much attention." I think they both sounded kind of stupid, but decided to not say anything and allowed the teacher to take the lesson back in the direction she wanted it to go. But I did sit there and wish that you were in the room with me. I would have appreciated some Stephanie insight right in that moment. I'm glad you're making it all work! I wish I'd been a good learner! I sat in my AP US History class thinking... why did I sign up for AP? BYU doesn't even ACCEPT AP US History. MAN!

Steven and Wendy OBryant said...

PS - My sister got a baby!! You can take down their link, since it isn't working anymore. Thanks for posting it for so long!

mere said...

Its interesting that a lot of the reasons for saying men have the priesthood and women don't is that they _need_ it, probably because of their penises. Its like reverse penis envy. You wouldn't want this silly thing, it makes me EVIL! and so I need this powerful privilege to help me be more humble and holy!!!! Gah!!!!!

Stephanie said...


Gah,I hate when people say you "can't have it all" because you will be bad at one thing and good at the other, so you just have to pick one. Here's why I hate it:

1. People don't tell men to not have kids because it will make them bad dads or bad at their jobs.

2. What your fellow RS person was describing is just called LIFE. Yeah, sometimes I teach a less than stellar lesson because Clara woke up a bunch at night. One time I was grading papers at home and Clara pooped all over herself and her swing because I didn't notice. Oh well. Work-life balance happens to EVERBODY, and we can either gripe about it, or roll with it. Griping about it sounds stupid though.

If I wasn't working there would be days I'd feel like a lousy parent anyways. If I was working full time, I'd feel like a lousy teacher some days. Win some, loose some, but don't tell me I can't try and be many things just because I am a woman.

End rant. You are awesome, keep on keeping on. :)

Dorothy said...

Uh, were you at that book group? With Katrina? Because if you were and I missed saying hi to my blog hero I'll feel all sorts of dumb.

lifeofdi said...

"when they had a good idea, but no "Presiding Priesthood Authority" to fight for them."

Or not even a good idea, but a different idea. As the Laurel president, I tried several times to get the Laurels allowed to go on rafting or other outdoors/Scoutsesque trips and was told no every damn time. The reason the young men are allowed to go is because it's scout money/liability, even though it's basically a church activity.

I hold pretty much no bitterness toward the church I've now left, but this still makes me angry to think about. It was so unfair.

Stephanie said...

@ Dorothy,

I was SUPPOSED to go, but got a raging sinus infection the day before. Pissed as hell that I missed out. I heard it was awesome. Next time.

April said...

Yesterday while at stake conf. the "Helaman's warriors" march that happened in the bountiful pioneer day parade was brought up,(Again, and again and again) needless to say it's been a very hot topic in my ward since they were the ones that put it on.
Yesterday, and not to my surprise, it was brought up again, this time by the Stake president, or his counselor, I can't remeber who was speaking. And he mentioned how he had received letterfrom young women asking why they can't do somehting like the helaman march, why everything that is considered more or less cool is only permitted to the young men, and why they were denied to march and have the same experience as teh YM. To this the speaker said,
"Girls, you are not excluded. This story was really ALL about the mothers of these priesthood holders, and all of these valient young men, well you will be mothers to men like that. You will be wives to men like that." But loud and clear, the message that we will NEVER be like couldn't be missed. It was so frustrating that I gave up and watch the little girl next to me draw pictures of Zach Effron and Corbin Blu from high school musical. Not bad talent for a ten year old. But when will the church learn that living vicairouls living and "holding" the priesthood through our husbands or sons is not enough? We desverve to be validated in the same ways they are.

Ashley said...

Love that you are teaching. Those are some lucky kids. I just imagine (hope) that our daughters are going to have it so much better than us, and won't be able to imagine the glass ceiling that we encountered.

megan said...

I work part time and love it. It took awhile to figure out just the right scheduling, etc to make it all work, but we've got a pretty good thing going. The decision to pursue my dream was more of a decision against becoming bitter for not realizing my potential, and I think that's something my girl will only benefit from. Bottom line - it works for our family, not against it.

megan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Risa said...

Reminds me of my favorite Gloria Steinam quote: Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too.

I work part-time. It makes me a better mother -- to be passionately engaged in something that I love so that I don't come home and feel resentful of folding laundry and cleaning toilets. And I want my daughter to know that you don't stop learning, growing, and pursuing your dreams just because you're a parent.

Lisa said...

Wouldn't it be fabulous if Priesthood offices were granted based on worthiness instead of based on age or sexual organs? I actually take very little issue with the fact that I am not able to hold the Priesthood, but I understand completely why there are so many women who do. I firmly believe that regardless of actually being ordained I have the ability, as all of God's children do, to call on him in times of need, and more importantly to call on his power in times of need. That being said, if I had the option of being ordained in the Priesthood I would do so, and I understand why the fact that it is not an option is problem. The thing that frustrates me, though, it how the Priesthood is presented as some sort of right of passage instead of as something you have to be worthy to hold. I know far too many people who have been unworthy of such ordinances but have been pushed into them by well-meaning bishops or leaders who think it will somehow help them to become/remain worthy after the fact. I do not believe this is the case. Worthiness should be the biggest factor in the Priesthood, and it should not be something that is just doled out to each young man on his birthday. Congratulations, you've been able to stay alive another year and also here is the power of God on earth. Yikes.

Kim said...

I am so sorry if I offended you. I made my comment sarcastically in response to the petty arguing on your comment thread with each other not as a response to your post. I promise that I was not implying that Penis Envy was true. When I took all of my psychology classes I thought that Freud was ridiculous. And I don’t truly believe that penis envy is the same thing as priesthood envy.
I have read a quote by Marolyn Monroe that said, “woman who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” This speaks volumes to me because it shows feminism to be something more than being compared to men or trying to be like men.
I am a convert to the church and I am very liberal. Judging by my horrible comment it is pretty safe to assume that I will never be perfect or Molly Mormon either. That is why I love your blog, because you are real and honest about what you are thinking. I love that you ask questions and challenge ideas. Once again I am so sorry.

Stephanie said...


I am so sorry I misread your comment. Gah. Thank you for coming back and clarifying. I need to take myself less seriously.

Mrs. Clark said...

Again, I am grateful that I do not have to practice my religion in Utah. We have had white-water rafting and serious hiking for our young women many times.