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 http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-775-27,00.htmlI 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.)
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 (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/109560), 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?)