I’m 27, and grew up in a military household as an only child. My mother was raised Church of Christ, and converted to Assemblies of God in her teens. My father was raised atheist, as near as I can tell, and converted to marry my mother. They married around 20, I guess, and I was born when Mother was 28. She said I was her miracle baby, that she had been diagnosed as infertile, unable to carry a baby to term. It had sent her into a near suicidal depression. I think the only reason she didn’t try suicide was because suicide is a sin. According to her, that all went away when I was born.
Because of the military moving us, I went to three different kindergartens. In first grade, I was bullied, and I remember being sent to the principle’s office three times. I wasn’t a bad girl, I just saw the world differently, and I have since been diagnosed with Ausperger’s Syndrome. I was taken out of school and homeschooled from second grade until my graduation. I was not taken out of school because of the bullying, but because my mother didn’t want me to learn about evolution, or the sex education I would have faced in my teens.
I didn’t have things as bad as most other women writing for this blog. I was allowed to wear pants, except for Sunday morning service. I was allowed to play video games and watch movies. I never had more than one friend at a time, but that was as much because of my AS as anything. My mother had managed to have another child when I was 11, a boy. I cared for him a lot, involving him in games of lets pretend and encouraging his sensitive side and imagination.
It wasn’t until I joined the Air Force, met my husband, and had a child, that I really realized how off things had been. It was the little things, the things most people wouldn’t fully notice.
The first thing I found, when I came to visit a year after leaving, was that my parents had finally gotten a dishwasher. My brother was 7, the same age I had been when I started to wash dishes. I’m not sure if he really has any idea how to wash dishes, or wash and fold laundry, or even sweep the house.
At 13, my brother’s favorite movie was Pitch Black, the R-rated prequel to Chronicles of Riddick. Needless to say, I would never have been allowed to watch that movie at 13. I remember him crying during one scene in The Neverending Story… and now he’s watching survival horror.
When I was girl, I went to my church’s ‘Missionettes‘ program, kind of like Girl Scouts. We had merit badges for Homemaking, for Beauty. I remember having to time how long it took to fold a towel. I was so envious of the boys. They got to learn knot-tying and fire-making. While we technically had those options, not one leader in the four churches I attended during those years ever considered actually having us go for them.
Like I said, my story isn’t all that bad, really. My main reason for sharing it is to point something out. While Quiverful and other patriarchal movements are ‘fringe’, it is the ‘moderates’ that provide for them and shelter them. The Assemblies of God isn’t Quiverful, quite, but I can see them going that way, it would take almost nothing at all. For some, churches such as my parent’s church are a waystop, a stepping stone to the next link in the chain towards Quiverful. Sometimes, I think the only reason my mother didn’t go there was because of her essential infertility. Either way, there is a strong patriarchal culture there, and it shows and takes its toll.
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