Monday, March 03, 2008

Mothers Who Know Consume Less

Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world's goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord's kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power.

Sister Julie B. Beck, "Mothers Who Know," October 2007,5232,23-1-775-27,00.html

I have thought about this passage from Sister Beck's talk about every week--maybe more, maybe less--since I read it in the weeks after General Conference. (Though I attended all four sessions of conference, it's true--I was asleep when she gave it the first time.)

More often than I think about this passage, however, I think about these:

I bought these last month at Nordstrom Rack, and I wear them, um, almost every day. (They are, as a consequence, wearing out already. They were not meant to be worn this regularly, I'd imagine. Or to walk the daily parking-lot-past-construction-site-to-school route I take. In February rains.)

Mothers who know consume less. Mothers who know--they reduce, reuse, recycle. They control their appetites. They buy fewer things, make do with fewer things. They don't, probably, probably not, spend Friday evenings looking at their shoes instead of at the faces of the friends they're playing board games with. (It doesn't happen a lot, but it does happen.)

I am not yet a mother, but as Sister Beck said yesterday, this single life is a time to take care of one room (and/or sharing the chores in the rest of the house) and one life to prepare for the time when I'll take care of many rooms and many lives. (Jazz fingers.)

Mothers who know consume less, and I spent twenty minutes--or more--searching online to find a picture of those shoes just so I could post them on my blog. (Not necessarily an act of consumption, but an act of only marginal productive returns.)

I know that Sis. Beck is not issuing a call to asceticism. She's issuing a call for restraint, for lower materialistic standards, for reflection and redress and, to invoke an Austenian allusion, retrenchment. ("You must retrench." Name the book/movie.) And this is something that I, in my new/burgeoning Palo Alto/law school aesthetic need to heed. Hear. Adhere to.

Do all twenty-somethings go through this? Do all/most twenty-somethings, maybe females, married or not, hit their mid- to upper-twenties and find themselves having scaled up into serious materialism and a life in which "retail therapy" has (a) lost much of its stigma and (b) seems to have actual therapeutic effects? This is where I am right now, ish. Ish, of course. (The sometimes reality of my money situation and President Benson's talk on pride are checks on this process, of course, as well as my reluctance to embrace a fashion-frenzied lifestyle my parents--and I, in my saner moments--always eschewed.) I guess my question is (this blog post is rambly, you may have noticed) this: what's the deal? Why is this materialism effective/affecting me? What's its hold, its appeal? Why does it even gain traction? Beauty? Self-improvement? A desire to be thought pretty and to be around pretty things? Straight up pride? Hm. Hm. Hm.

I will continue to think about this. I will go home tonight, make the "Frrrozen Hot Chocolate" I've been ogling all weekend (, and I will think about consuming less, as I drink my daiquiri-smooth, made-with six-pieces-of-gourmet-melted-chocolate-and-whipped-cream (today, cool whip) frozen hot chocolate.

But I will drink it slowly, and I will think for a looong time. (You think, too?)


Headle said...

And this, Sarah Louise, is why I LOVE YOU!!! :) Ahh...I'm so grateful for the modern miracle of blogging, so I can continue to learn from you.

There are so many pulls on our time, energy and means that we have constantly, mindfully shut out the noise of the world. Such an important reminder. Thank you!!

P.S. That frozen hot chocolate sounds divine!! :)

Jacki said...

I used to sit in a lovely breakfast nook late at night with you discussing everything and anything when we really both should have been asleep. Now, I just read your blog late at night when I should be asleep. And I love it.

Melissa said...

I would like to point out that you are getting very good use out of these shoes. If you were wearing a different pair of gorgeous shoes every day, I would be a bit more worried about you. As matters stand, I can only commend your tendency to enjoy the beauty in your life. I'm confident you won't get carried away.

Those are cute shoes.

Rebecca said...

Melissa is right Sarah--I have long held to the price per wear philosophy and it sounds like your shoes are already a good return for you. The problem, I suppose, is that you seem to really care about them. I'll occasionally wake up in the middle of the night and steal a glance at a pair of jeans. I swear it helps me sleep better. So perhaps it's not that I spent a lot on them, but that I love them more than I should. Like you said. And as far as Sister Beck's talk is concerned, she wasn't talking to us. She was talking to those other women. I Love You!

skyav said...

Persuasion, indeed.

jeff said...

Sarah, you are speaking to the exact, or a mirror of (female/male), phenomenon that I have discovered in my own life. I see it happening to many of my nearest and dearest. What's the deal?
Is it that I'm concerned for too few people--too much time to think about myself, and therefore am a little too concerned with finding beautiful things to behold, consume, wear repeatedly? If I were the only one presenting with these symptoms, than the diagnosis might have been that simple. This piece of evidence you share is cause for further investigation, a thorough inquiry into the truth behind this growing epidemic. We shall pursue this investigation in a matter of dayz.

Sarah Louise said...

And Sky is the winner! "Retrench" is absolutely from Persuasion. (At least, the movie Persuasion is the first place I heard it used.) For that, Sky, you win the URL of the day:

(Thanks to Jess D. for raising Cain with this one. See "I May Have Drunk the Kool-Aid" for her related comment. If you're prepared.)