In case you haven’t heard, there’s lots of warring amongst us: culture wars, political wars, wars against terror, religious wars, etc. I read about these wars and listen to people talking about them on NPR, but there’s only one war that I readily participate in everyday, and it’s commonly referred to as “The Mommy War.” There are various battles going on simultaneously in this war: staying home vs. working, breast vs. bottle, co-sleeping vs. cry-it-out, spanking vs. time-out, home vs. regular school, etc. There are lots of et ceteras when one is discussing war.
(1) Winners of the Mommy War make decisions every day based on what is best for the long-term, not the short.
(2) Winners do not condemn other parenting practices or decisions.
(3) Winners think before swatting little legs and criticizing small mistakes (remember that children’s church song, “Oh be careful little hands what you do … Oh be careful little mouth what you say … for the father up above is looking down with love …”). Winners are careful.
(4) Winners try to attentively listen to everything a child says even if it’s painful … because the inane conversation topics of today (e.g., “Look! An ant! I see that ant! Mom, see that ant? Watch mom! Watch me squish that ant!”) are just as important to them as the very serious future ones (e.g., “I can explain why I snuck out of the house.”) that are sure to come. To them, all of it is important.
(5) Winners take to heart the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all others doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!
(I’m English major enough to claim that in his final line, the poet is likely using “a Man” to mean something like “dead” or, if you’re lucky, “a good parent.”)
So please, if we’re going to fight in something called a “Mommy War,” let it be a war against our own thoughtless parenting and not other parents.
There was a good bit of silence, and then I noticed that Sam had successfully moved all of his spiral noodles into his milk. I said something profound in response, like, “Oh that’s really noble and makes me proud WHY DID YOU WASTE ALL THOSE NOODLES THIS IS NOT A CURIOSITY EXPERIMENT STATION.”
Not sure who won that battle, but I’d rather be fighting that kind of Mommy War than the stuff of Time Magazine any day.