But I hope my good friend, Ann, forgives me, because I'm going to be using her as my example to get my point across.
See, Ann has experienced this phenomenon as being "different" by choice; but in a way, her reasons for being "different" wasn't so she could be seen as different; she and her husband have made decisions based on prayer and their family's unique circumstances. The irony in this is how their decisions are scoffed at by some members of the Church (obviously not everyone), and even members of their own families --even though Ann and her husband are just a normal Mormon couple who are doing their best. See the irony? Yes? No? Well, anyway, let me be more specific.
Ann (and assume from this point that her husband is a part of this) home-schools her kids. No big deal, right? Well, they decided to become vegetarians, too. And then Ann became an advocate for babywearing and car seat safety. She also cloth-diapers her babies. They like to move within 2-3 years (well, most times it was a necessity) and buy homes they can fix up on their own (it's a hobby). She nurses her babies for about 2 years (unless she gets pregnant sooner than that). She also advocates hypnobirthing and just gave birth to her 5th child at home, in a tub, with a midwife.
No, seriously. She gave birth on Thursday in her bedroom.
Now, after hearing these things (and if you are specifically an LDS woman), what is your knee-jerk reaction? Do you think she's insane? Do you think she is making risky and silly decisions? If you were to meet her in your ward, what would you automatically assume or judge about her and her family when finding these things out?
It's so surprising to me that people assume she's crazy. Having a baby at home automatically equates stupidity in some minds (I'll admit I used to be one of 'em). Homeschooling is crazy. Cloth-diapering is even crazier. How could she be a vegetarian and be nursing her babies? Who would choose to carry their baby around all day in a baby sling?!
And yet, because of Ann, I have learned how to open my mind to things that may be different. Are they bad? No. Just different. Here is what has happened in my life since knowing Ann (over the last 9 years):
*I have safer and more secure car seats in my car. Every child is in a 5-point harness (except #1 --she has a back booster), and will continue to be until they are old enough/tall enough/heavy enough to be in a booster. And it's amazing to me to see how many people think I'm just nuts. The biggest argument? "How inconvenient that must be!" Ummm... yeah. It's inconvenient to make my kids as safe as possible (sorry for the sarcasm).
*I now babywear! Ann introduced me to the Beco, and I have been in LOVE with it ever since. In fact, I still wear #4 on my back! Yep --I'm 8 months pregnant and wear a 2 year old on my back. On Wednesday, we went to the park. A lady with a young child looked at me as I was taking him off so he could play and began a conversation with me that sounded like all the others I've had: "Wow, you must be superwoman!" or "Isn't that dangerous for the fetus?" or "Doesn't that hurt your back?"
I explained that there is a difference between baby "wearing" and baby "carrying." HUGE difference. And if you have the right wrap/carrier, then you don't feel pain, because it puts the weight on the hips and takes it away from the shoulders and the back.
Nobody ever believes me, though.
*I'm not a vegetarian, but Ann and her husband's devotion to health (and they'll be the first to admit that they relapse here and there, just like us!) inspired Brandon and I to lose our weight 2 years ago. The things they taught us have also inspired me to cook with less meat, whole wheat, and try more vegetables. I can't give all the credit to them, but I'd be lying if I didn't give them some of it!
*Hypnobirthing and home-births. Now, I'm not going to be giving birth at home, but Ann and I have had hundreds of conversations regarding the birth of our children. She and I have both experienced such similar things --we started with doctors, then moved to midwives. We both abhor pitocin and invasive birth experiences. We can't stand the protocols that are a "must" in all hospitals because of the .01% chance of something going wrong. We both hate when medical professionals (who are just doing their jobs, bless their hearts) won't listen to us when we try to explain we KNOW our bodies. We hate being told that childbirth is not worth it unless it's pain free and over quickly (thus the pitocin). And we've had time to think about these things because we are both on our fifth children (well, obviously she's had hers, now!), and we are both blessed with the ability to give birth without emergencies (I am very aware that there are those who cannot. My heart goes out to you, but it doesn't change that I can, you know?).
However, we both disagree on only one thing: Home birth.
See, I'm not opposed to giving birth at home (Brandon is, though), and I just may do it next time (#6!!?!?!). But for now, I like giving birth in the hospital --for just a few reasons.
No, it's not safety.
No, it's not medical intervention.
No, it's not the care for my newborn.
It's for the food! And the bonding time with my baby while my other kids are at home. Plus it's a bit cheaper. (Insurance doesn't look happily upon home births like they do hospital births, which makes sense.)
But I don't judge Ann for her choice to deliver at home (this was the first time she has done it). See, she never goes into anything blindly. Ever.
One last thought, too: The previous generation has a hard time with this, I think. Although technology has improved, a lot of women are going "backwards" when it comes to how they raise their families. SAHM's are back in fashion --so are home gardens, nursing babies, less "things", and even the way we give birth (less medical intervention). For some parents/grandparents, I think they see it as a threat. "Wasn't our way good enough?" and "Why would you choose something like this when there's medicine and/or doctors and/or a different way?" It's just hard to understand.
Ooh! Also! It makes me think that our society is so obsessed with being Pain Free, that any type of voluntary pain is seen as just plain silly. Feel pain? Pop a pill! Feel sad? Pop a pill! (and I say this as someone with Depression, just to head off any arguments. I know some things cannot be solved without that Pill, so please know I'm talking in generalizations, okay?). Also, convenience is key --why put forth extra effort? (cloth-diapering)
Anyway, I guess my point is that different is okay. Especially if it's done with prayer and research and deep thought. I will never home school my kids (knock on wood) and I will probably always use disposable diapers --but that doesn't give me the right to judge Ann for her different choices, you know what I mean? Plus, what amazes me the most, is how easy it is to decide for myself after I take a good hard look at both sides first...
What do you think? Do you find yourself judging easily without knowing the whole story? Is your perspective limited to just what you've always known? Have you ever changed your mind about something after seeing both sides?
*please note: I'm talking about things that are of good worth --those things in which either side would probably just be fine. Like Republican or Democrat, BYU or U of U, peas or corn, you know?