Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Trenches of Mommyhood: An Apology

When I had to title this blog, I mentally sorted through titles with enough over-analysis to do any Type-A personality proud. I knew that dealing with the daily realities of family life would be the overwhelming focus of my posts. "life in the trenches" seems like an accurate summation of my life most days.

Yet the phrase also suggests direct conflict and aggression--a war or battle with high stakes. After all, those in the trenches are the foot soldiers, the trenches are generally the places with the highest casualties in any battle. Trench warfare denotes brutal realities of war--bugs, disease, death, hunger, physical discomfort, and ever-present danger. If I'm in the trenches of motherhood, who and what am I fighting? Although there are times that it feels like every interaction with a two-year old is a battle worthy of any WWII vet, I really don't have an adversarial relationship with my kids.

It didn't seem to apply, yet I couldn't get the phrase out of my mind. Then I realized that I am perfectly justified in using it because I am very much in a war here, and the stakes could not be higher. Along with millions of other parents, I am a foot soldier, and the danger is real and ever-present, and no matter how uncomfortable the battles might be at times, I'm in this for the long haul.

I'm at war with everyone and everything that sees my children as potential sexual objects. Internet predators, child molesters, even hypersexed advertising that tries to entice my babies to grow up faster than they should--it's an all out war and I'll do whatever I can to protect my kids.

I'm at war with anyone who would keep my child back and prevent her from reaching her full potential. While politicians, teacher's unions, pundits, and administrators argue over who should control our children's education and how it should best be achieved and measured, I fight for my kids' right to learn. And not just the right to learn, but I fight to give them education, too. Reading at bedtime, counting peas on a plate, sorting colors in laundry, discussing where butterflies come from--this is a rather enjoyable aspect of foot-soldiering.

I'm at war with aggressive assaults on family time. While there are many worthwhile things in the world that clearly have value to many, I know when all is said and done what is accomplished within our home is the most important achievement in the world. There isn't a whole lot I can do for widespread global suffering and inequity, but I can raise conscientious, thoughtful, engaged citizens who will continue to make a difference in their own worlds. Accomplishing this goal, however, takes time. Time together as a family, not engaged in individual pursuits, not in front of the TV. Like the most zealous sentry in high-stakes battles, I guard my family's time.

I'm at war with those who believe my children are worth less because of external labels. We're a multiracial family, and our children have a variety of stories to tell about how they arrived here. They each have unique challenges and marvelous strengths. It amazes me how many people want to pigeonhole them because of their own prejudices and stupid thinking. I'm at war against racism, sexism, bigotry, and prejudice in any form. Hopefully the world my children inherit will be a more tolerant, more aware one.

I'm at war with confused values that give my kids distorted views of moral reality. I often hear the phrase "family values," and I'm not sure what the heck that means. To me, morality is very simple. Love other people. Forgive them. Serve them. Honor God. Do good things. That is the essence of what I want to instill in my children. Yet all too often *values* becomes a confused label that applies more to political rhetoric or denominational debate.

I'm at war with a super-materialistic culture that leads families into extreme debt and extreme unhappiness. The emphasis on having and getting "things" hurts parents and children both. I'm counterattacking within my domain by striving for simplicity and focusing on what brings TRUE joy in life.

This list could probably go on and on. The enemy is out there. Yep, it's really a war. Welcome to life in the trenches.

No comments: