Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I can't even find one I like, let alone share!

Have you seen the new series on TLC Sisterwives?
What do you think?

Growing up in the state of Utah has been interesting. But it was not until I left the state for the first time for more than just a week vacation I realized just how we were perceived. The summer after my senior year of high school. I took a summer job working in Arizona at the North rim of the Grand Canyon. A great job where I had the chance to meet many people from many other states, countries and cultures.

I would often ask questions starting with where they were traveling from and my naive seventeen year old sheltered brain took in a lot. An occasional visitor from Europe or Asia might infer my origin also. And although it is just North of Arizona, many had never heard of it. Utah. It was interesting the number of people who actually thought that Utah was an island, with its own species of people. huh? wha?

And yet others shocked me when they actually asked me if I had horns! True story! Unbeknown to me at the time, Utah has been akin to many myths and even some strange truths....Here is one website that discusses the oddities.
things that make you go hmmm

Let me attempt to explain just a few of the things I have a first hand accounting with:

Horns? No we do not have horns (or tails for that matter) hidden under our hair. Unless you are speaking of the hours immediately following my knowledge of my ex's infidelity, I cannot promise there were no visible signs of horns.. or a tail.. or possibly steam emanating from my ears.

Utah is one big commune/ cult: No, we do not belong to a cult that is locked in by ten foot tall cement walls holding us in while we raise children born from sex with cousins, brothers and uncles.
I cannot tell you how many times I was asked that summer: How many mothers do you have?

All Utahns have multiple wives / mothers: No. I love my mother very much, she is my light. There is a 2% population of polygamists in the state which leads be back to the new show airing on TLC.

Do Utahns wear funny underwear? Mormon practice, is that when a couple is sealed in a ceremony in the temple, they receive garments. These garments are white undergarments meant to cover the body (temple) of the practicing Mormon. I am not a member of the faith and I do not have the specifics. However, in answer to the question: No Utahan's based on our geographic location do not wear funny underwear. Unless you are speaking of those candy cane imprinted long john, drop seat lingerie my ex husband sprung on me during a family gift exchange that one Christmas... now that was funny underwear!

Although I was raised in the state of Utah, it wasn't until I was home from my summer in Arizona on a family trip to a local mine, when I had my first encounter with a polygamist family. I would not have known they were a plural family, they appeared as any other large family, were it not for their excessively modest attire and archaic hair styles. The young boys were wearing plain colored pants and overalls with white button-up shirts. The girls in floor length dresses with a turtleneck of lace to their chins. I remember thinking how hot they must be in the summer sun with long sleeves covering every bit of skin down to their wrists. A few of the young girls had shorter dresses or short sleeves which were worn over pants, thick tights and long sleeve undershirts.
The girls wore braids that ran the length of their backs, the boys looked as though they had visited the local barber in Walnut grove. They stood out. They were different. They were even more covered than the Mormon long shorts created in order to cover those 'funny undies'.

As the years went by I learned a little more about the followings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ which is a different religion entirely from the Mormon faith they are often associated with. Although the Mormon- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, followed the law and changed its outlook on polygamy and plural marriages some 100 years ago, there was a time they practiced and even encouraged the practice.
The Fundamentalist church has been in the news more recently with the antics of Tom Green, and even more so with the incarceration of  Warren Jeffs.

I have learned along with the rest of the nation. The latest 'coming out' of a polygamist Utah family, the Brown's, on TLC's sisterwives interested me. The Browns live less than ten miles from me and I would not have known had their lives not been portrayed to the world on this series.
I watched along with the nation, curious to see inside this compelling and shocking unknown world. We all wonder, how could those women so that? How could one man be so arrogant as to think he needs or deserves more than one woman in his life? Those women must be brainwashed, emotionally abused and beaten down.
And then I watched.
What I saw was a glimpse of what we all strive for. A healthy, happy, structured family. A family so full of love for each other you feel it in your bones just seeing the interaction.
Watching the show I felt a little like a voyeur, a little uncomfortable as I was quick to judge.
I could not live the lifestyle.
I can not seem to find a man I would be able to live with. I cannot imagine sharing one with others. But these women - and the children, and Cody, the father all seem so happy and centered.
Despite the 2% of the population of practicing polygamists in this state alone ( they don't all reside in the state of Utah) it is still an illegal practice. And the Brown family has faced a lot of adversary by coming out. One wife lost her job, they faced a criminal investigation, at least one of the daughters changed schools. What courage.

"If we raise productive, contributing members of society who are moral and ethical, that's our final goal, whatever their path is," People quotes Janelle, who has six children with Kody, as saying.

Thing is, the world needs more love. And the Brown's are overflowing with it. Of course I realize this is a television show and not all emotions and issues will be shown but as the mother of three children who have been through the horror of divorce and an absent father most of their lives, it is nice to see a loving family.
As in the case of Warren Jeffs and other cases pending in the state wherein forced marriages between older man and under-aged girls,  I cringe at the thought. But that is another scenario entirely. I cannot comment on the series 'Big love' which aired on HBO.
If a man has more than one 'wife' in his bed, but raises happy, healthy children is he perceived by the law to be better? or worse than a man who is not married, but has planted his seed and impregnated multiple women on his drunken or drug laden escapades.
When deciding whether to prosecute, I believe we must think first of the children. Those who are not old enough to make the decisions on their own. Rather than consenting adults showing no signs of abuse.
This is a fine line. This is a controversial issue. This is not a Utah issue. There are many religions and cultures which practice plural marriages, both in the US and abroad.
When is it considered abuse?
When is it at the detriment of the women? The children?
Would it be different with multiple men?
Was Julius Caesar a poly? Ali Baba?
What are your thoughts?


  1. This is a great topic. I enjoyed your thoughts. This comes down to a question of cultural morality. (Interesting just noticed that "cult" is first part of culture). This is the same question that is asked of same sex marriage having and raising children. The bottom line, is their an environment of love and nurture? If there is an environment of love and nurture then who is anyone to judge if the family structure is right or wrong.
    As you so aptly pointed out there are men out there who father multiple children with multiple women, who do not contribute to the love and nurturing of the child yet no one is knocking down their door and hauling them before a judge. There are many broken marriages and many blended families which not too long ago was not acceptable to the cultural moral code.
    If there is love and nurturing, if the intent is pure than we should not dictate the structure of a family.

  2. Mark, thank you for your thoughts. It does seem that we have a lot more to say and seem to put our noses into others business a lot more when loving caring is involved and turn a cheek when abuse is at the forefront.

  3. Wow, great post. Polygomy creeps me out. It doesn't value the individual, and that's a shame. I agree structured, happy, healthy families are a good thing. But shouldn't each individual woman have a chance for her life to shine on its own?

  4. DH- I agree that it does not let the women shine as an independent woman might. however these women seem to be happy and they actually feel more empowered together.
    If they (the Brown family) were more like the families of Warren Jeff's and Tom Green and young children were persuaded to live this way, or if the parents enforced a continuation in the lifestyle with their own kids, then it would worry me more.
    As long as they are all consenting and happy adults, I am not creeped out.
    Very little creeps me out.


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