While up in D.C. visiting my aunt and my grandma, one morning my husband and I were able to walk down the street with our youngest for a quick cup of coffee and to walk our Corgi. The quick cup of coffee turned into a fascinating hour-long conversation with a former Congressional candidate for the area.
She was also a mother to three school-aged children and was very committed to being an active mom. She went on to tell me that she lived in France for some time and in various parts of the United States and had a very successful professional career as a federal prosecutor which she gave up when she decided to become a mother.
With very little input from me, she went on to explain a lot of what drew her to run for Congress was she wanted to honor and increase awareness on the patriotism of being a stay-at-home mom or the home-based mompreneur. Hmm...that was interesting. I had never thought to lump the stay-at-home moms or other committed mothers who work outside the home with patriotism.
I wanted to hear more!
She went on to explain that while living in France, she was pregnant and a new mom to their eldest child. She described she felt the French perceived pregnancy and motherhood as, among other qualities, patriotic. She felt that Frenchmen and women revered French moms because they were raising the next generation of their society. They had a huge undertaking at hand. These moms were forged with raising and developing boys and girls who would one day be running their country, businesses, and serving their community. And because of the gravity of this, moms were treated with respect and held in high regard.
What a wonderful sentiment!
Instead of being the loathed fellow passengers on a plane, the nuisances in line at the grocery store, or the disturbance at the restaurant, mothers with their children were treated like they were on an important mission and given respect and help when in public. To her point, helping to raise and rear the children in our country (they don't have to be your own) is as much of a moral obligation as it is patriotic. Our country is made up of citizens who were all once kids. Just as we should keep our parks clean and our roads in order, part of keeping this country great for everyone is ensuring kids are raised to become good citizens who contribute to society.
My new-found friend went on to berate a recent cover of “Time” magazine in which there are two young adults leisurely on a beach with the headline, “The childfree life when having it all means NOT having children.” The article describes that the birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history. One in five women in America are not having kids. I think we both agreed that this was a personal choice and not all adults should or can have children.
However, there is no such thing as a "childfree life."
Kids are a part of our lives even if we are not biologically linked to them. We live in a society that children play a large role in. Should we really be reveling or trying to promote that not having kids in our lives is living the good life in America of really even possible? After all, one day it is the kids who become the doctor or nurse giving us medical care, the political leader who will decide how our tax dollars are spent and what laws we must live by, the police officer or firefighter that protects us or responds to an emergency situation we may encounter, or the consumer or client for our products and services who support our economy and lifestyles. Or on the flip side, it is the ill-raised child who becomes a thief, murderer, gang member, drug dealer, etc. In either situation, parent or not, your life is affected by who and what a child becomes.
Again, not everyone should or needs to have kids and some want them, but can't physically, financially or emotionally have them. Fortunately, we live in a society where I don't think childless adults are thought of as unfilled or living an abnormal life. But this title does imply a negative message about the undertaking of parenthood and shirks the fact we as citizens all share responsibility for the needs of children growing up in our country.
I hope we as members of a society look at the children who come into our lives from our neighborhoods, communities, households, or social environments as opportunities to be a positive helping hand in their growth as they hold our legacy and future as a great Nation. I hope we do not begin to perceive children as interfering with our adult lives or a speed bump to happiness. Let's not start looking at them or their needs in a negative light.
We could further rant on as to “Why are others trying to define what someone's life should be like to have it all?” as anyone can make the case they have it all and each of them will have a different life (and hopefully most of us feel as though we are living life at its best). I am focusing on the fact that it is sad that a national publication through its cover story is subtly and coyly sensitizing and normalizing the thought that children are a nuisance and intrusive of a quality adult life.
They are not.
And let's honor the moms and caretakers who decide to immerse themselves into raising children and acknowledge when they are great moms just as we would honor her as a CEO or other successful professional who made sacrifices as well and did what was necessary to get to her elite professional status. As a society, let's not forget that the job these moms do at home are just as important if not more important than a the job they may do outside the home because they are rearing and developing the future of our country and those who live side by side us. Being a proficient mom and raising high functioning children doesn't just happen. It takes hard work, dedication, and perfecting your actions to be successful. And their success in raising an empathic and compassionate child helps better society as a whole. Thus, her point that devoted, purposeful moms are not only benefiting the children that they raise, America as a whole is strengthened.
Hence, motherhood is a form of patriotism.
It just happened to be an ironic conversation that got started because it was with me, who is trying to help promote the benefits of attachment parenting, and I take my role as a mom very seriously. She, on the other hand, just saw me with a feisty almost 2-year-old and we were sharing space at a cafe.
I was fascinated by her thought and claim that part of being a dedicated and engaged mom in a sense is very patriotic and it is good for America. And after our conversation and reflecting on it more, I have to agree.