Ever since I became a mom, the need and desire to defend my motherhood (and everyone else’s) has increased exponentially. I can’t enter the public arena without dirty looks, disdainful comments or general sentiments of pity.
“Wow! You sure have your hands full!”
“I feel sorry for you! How do you do it!?”
“Do all of these kids belong to you!?”
I wish I had adequate words that would help you actually feel what I feel when I get the looks. The general public is either disgusted or annoyed by the existence of mothers. It’s irritating, it’s hurtful and it can wear on even the strongest of women.
I don’t know when parenting became so unpopular. I think it happened gradually. We live in a society that has ever so subtly shifted its priority from the family to the individual. Generally speaking, we promote self-indulgence, self-centeredness and self-fulfillment; somehow forgetting that the family unit is the basic building block of any society and its success.
As depressing as that sounds, I’m actually here to offer you hope. This hope typically springs from deep within my own soul. There is a fire burning somewhere deep that tells me I’m fighting the good fight. It assures me that I’m doing the right thing.
And every once in awhile an outside source helps to fan that flame a little brighter. I met an angel like that yesterday.
I was standing at the customer service desk in Fred Meyer’s. Not a place I want to be with four children. Ever. But it was important enough that I needed to do it. My kids weren’t being completely awful, but the longer we waited, the more rambunctious they became. It was wearing on my nerves.
At one point Tanner began throwing his baseball cap as high as he could into the air. In his defense, he caught it every time, but still. I was past the point of tolerance and told him to knock it off.
I let others get to me. And my patience wore thinner and thinner as I started to see the annoyed looks from others behind me in line. I have talkative and happy kids and apparently that is socially unacceptable. If your children behave in any noticeable way, you’re supposedly doing something wrong as a parent.
There was a lady being helped at the other register next to mine. She looked to be about the age of my own mom. She turned to me and declared loudly enough for the entire line behind us to hear, “I don’t know how you do it!”
“Oh, no,” I thought, “here it comes. I am not in the mood for this right now.”
I was completely positive that she was going to tell me that I had my hands way too full or ask me if they were all mine. Everyone else does. But she didn’t.
“I am so proud of you for what you’re doing. It’s wonderful.”
I was taken so off guard by the warmth of her compliment that truthfully, I almost cried. And the looks on the faces of the other customers in line changed . . . some to confusion, some to respect.
“Thank you,” I managed to mutter. “I love it.”
She smiled and walked away. But not before she had changed my entire day. I felt vindicated. I felt like the little guy who was defended by someone incredibly important.
And you can question this stranger’s importance if you want to, but her existence is critical.
It takes strong and bold women to defend motherhood. It takes women who are young mothers, women who are empty nesters and women who have never had children. It takes women who see the importance of raising these sweet babies to be our future leaders.
It also takes strong and bold men. It takes men who are fathers and men who are not. It takes men who value womanhood and motherhood and give that role its place of honor in their lives and in our society.
Motherhood is important because children are important. My role is critical because my children are critical.
I’d conveniently tell you that we can’t change the negative opinions of others, but we can. That sweet stranger did. We can grant hope, one act of service and one kind word at a time. We can defend motherhood and we can defend the goodness and importance of our children.
If you are raising children, it’s the most important thing you will ever do. It’s not a bump in the road or a pathetically sad accident. That truth can be defended and shared . . . one word at a time.