I received an email response to yesterday’s “The Oppression of Motherhood” post that took a different view of Margaret Wente’s article than I proposed. The response came from a mother I respect as much as any mother I have ever known. With the author’s permission I share her perspective.
So I read your blog and the Wente article this morning. I totally didn’t get what you got! Sure it was a little crazy but I didn’t think it was that bad. I didn’t think she was seriously saying you should drink and smoke.
I thought she was saying you should parent how you feel you should and maybe not worry so much. I have certainly felt that on a number of times. Depending on what group of people I hang out with I am made to feel like a bad parent for choosing to vaccinate my children or as a bad parent for NOT vaccinating. I think it is pretty crazy how now a days a lot of people think you are a bad mother if all your toys aren’t wood. I would prefer to give my children natural toys but if you can’t afford that or you choose not to your kids probably won’t die!
When I was pregnant the worry I had over what I ate probably did more harm than eating some less healthy stuff might have done!
If Margaret Wente was really coming to the defense of this young mother, then I salute Margaret Wente and apologize for yesterday’s post. The idea that some self-appointed body of politically correct parenting police should have the power to make the young mother who commented on my blog feel that she is anything other than the most luminous example of motherhood, fills me with sadness.
I have watched this young woman care for her children with the kind of love and devotion that is a profound witness to the deepest, most beautiful qualities of which human beings are capable. I have seen her bleary-eyed with tiredness deal with her children with a patience and grace that seem to me almost super-human. I have observed with utter amazement as she has navigated the delicate terrain of her children’s psychic crises to find ways to work out conflicts without entering into battles or creating undue turmoil and pain.
If Margaret Wente was really saying that this young mother should trust her own deep inner instincts for good, then I agree completely. This is the most important lesson for healthy human interaction. We must validate and affirm our own deepest inner knowing. We do have profound wisdom within ourselves that is just waiting to be utilized. There is no doubt that social pressures and expectations can at times cause us to lose connection with our own inner truth. When we allow the voices of social expectation to make us deaf to our own insights and understandings we lose touch with the greatest gift we have to offer.
Parenting that emerges out of nothing more than an insecure need to conform to someone else’s agenda may raise children who fit tidily into the dominant expectations of currently prevailing social mores. But such parenting from social pressure will never enable children to experience their own unique identity and to taste the freedom to express their true selves for which they were created.
What we need, in all areas of human endeavour is to be encouraged to pay close attention to what is really going on. We need to listen deeply to the children entrusted to our care. We need to consider the advice of experts; we need to hear our peers and to heed the wisdom of our elders. But most of all we need to step back from all of this and listen to the deep inner wisdom that is our natural inheritance as children of God.
If Margaret Wente was simply encouraging mothers to give themselves permission to pay close attention to their own deep inner wisdom, she should be applauded not vilified.