Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bible study Moms; is this the life I want?

Past readers know that I am a person of faith. I teach at a faith-based institution. While we are together during my sabbatical,  my family has been attending a church and we have gotten involved in a "small group" of four families.

The small group spends a weekday night reading scripture and reflecting on it. Both Hub and I enjoy it, and respect the knowledge of the others in our group. Hub is a non-believer and has never been exposed to the Abrahamic scriptures and history, so I am surprised and happy to hear him use the term "fascinating" to describe our meetings. I myself still have a lot to learn and have grown weary of meetings that are composed of either 1. shallow navel-gazing or 2. over- intellectualizing the scriptures until they no longer resemble what is written.

The three other families are composed of active duty military fathers and stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs). Two of the men are military academy graduates, highly selective schools like Hub's alma mater.While military friends are unusual for us, we have felt comfortable in the group. They appreciate my husband's outsider viewpoint and our experiences as academics. I have plenty of SAHM friends, so I haven't considered or asked the women's reasons for staying home. But then...

While on a social get together with this group, I was chatting with the mom that I know the least. She has a degree in a highly desirable tech field, and I assumed that she would return to work after her kids were in school or her constant moves for the military ended. We were discussing parenting styles, and she said something that blew me out of the water. She said, "The man really has to be the head of the house. If the woman starts wearing the pants that's when trouble starts."

Me (silently): ?!?!!?? I excused myself to tend to my misbehaving kid.

I believe families should choose whatever "style" everyone is comfortable with. If she would have said, "WE prefer a patriarchy" I could accept that. She made the statement as if that's How It Should Be for everyone. I hope we can discuss this soon in a civil manner, where I will politely but strongly argue against her view. I enjoy debating women's issues and meeting people with different viewpoints than mine. My fear is that I (and Hub) will associate "people who have a deep knowledge of scripture" with "people who follow the type of politics/ world view that we both disagree strongly with". 

It seems ironic...our family has lived in a relatively small city, but our community and church are globally minded and socially progressive. Our closest friends at "home" are hot-headed liberals. Though not "hot headed", we are comfortable in our home crowd. Now that we are living in a "big city" our new friends are presumably conservative evangelicals.

I'm always looking to solve our two body problem, so everything that I see in our current Sabbatical-together lifestyle, I ask: If we moved here, would I be happy? Or is our small-city life more suited to us? Do I want to live like this?  How will we build community here? Is this what I want from the rest of my life? The cultural differences between now and the status quo seem to warrant consideration, were we to imagine a life together here.

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