I'm nervous about reviews and nervous about interviews on live radio, but most of all, I'm nervous about the features that various journalists are writing about me - features that will, inevitably, concentrate on my Mormon upbringing. As a writer I choose my words carefully. On the few occasions I have written about Mormonism I have edited and revised my words, attempting to take a nuanced position that is, at times, both critical and conciliatory. It is absolutely terrifying to know that, on this occasion, my words will be chopped up and reassembled by people who understand nothing of those nuances; that when I'm asked about the good and bad things about growing up Mormon, or parenting as a Mormon, or the role of Mormon women, the good things may be omitted from the final piece, and that a sub editor, not the journalist who interviewed me, will write the headline, making it as melodramatic as possible. Just rereading this paragraph makes me feel nauseous.My heart sank into my boots when I saw the headline of an interview in the Guardian yesterday. The interview itself took the form of a very long, informal chat with my lovely friend Sarah Franklin in which I talked about my expectations of motherhood and the numerous ways in which I failed to live up to them (including once baking a perfect Thomas the Tank cake for a party and then refusing to let any of the children eat it).
If you ignore the headline - please ignore the headline - you'll see that I talk about my decision to prioritise motherhood over education, based on what I understood to be right as a teenager, 20 years ago. Did I get it wrong? Perhaps. I certainly don't think there's such a thing as Mormon Motherhood; I don't think that there's one, homogeneous, prescribed way for Mormon women to do things. Some texts may imply that there is, but there are always counter-examples.
The very last thing I wanted was to enter the Mormon version of the Mommy Wars. And I certainly don't condone or agree with the really unpleasant, trollish comments that have appeared at the bottom of some reprints of the interview.
I find it very difficult to talk about the church in interviews because there is tremendous nuance in how Mormons approach so many issues, and that nuance isn't going to be picked up by non-Mormons (or by sub-editors at newspapers who write melodramatic headlines). Ultimately, I can only talk about my own experiences, which haven't always been positive - but I know lots of fantastic women, including my own mother, who have found fulfilment and enjoyment in the church.