Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Election Day Lessons

Moms can't catch a break. The following is an excerpt: From Erica Jong, WSJ Saturday Essay
"Our obsession with parenting is an avoidance strategy. It allows us to substitute our own small world for the world as a whole. But the entire planet is a child's home, and other adults are also mothers and fathers. We cannot separate our children from the ills that affect everyone, however hard we try. Aspiring to be perfect parents seems like a pathetic attempt to control what we can while ignoring problems that seem beyond our reach.

As we give up on ideals of community, we focus more and more on our individual children, perhaps not realizing that the community and the child cannot be separated."

The NYT blog response, if read by moms will drive them to distraction. Time better spent focusing on the job at hand. The facts, as witnessed in one tiny village on the Hudson, belie all of the summary statements made by those who write about parenting.

It happened that our kids' schedule conflict allowed us the privilege of child caring. It was election day. The prospect of a long day in a small hurricane was eased when Evelyn invited us to her home where moms were going to gather to staff the phones in a get out the vote pitch. Their children would play together as another coincidence had it that the schools were closed for a work day. No "avoidance" here.

Carrie and I are no strangers to phone banks and so we did our share. The attic was commandeered by the kids and one of us would drift up to check out the scene from time to time. The kids got on well. As moms came and went the conversation ebbed and flowed around the political issues of the day. I shared the perspective that it seemed moms were comfortable in their roles as moms. We had noted that all of the moms in this house had been seen picking up their children from school the day before, and that there was a great turnout and crazy fun had in the previous weekend halloween activities. (Cold Spring, NY is a mecca for over the top halloween celebration). Years earlier a new mom friend of ours howled with frustration; "I am tired of being the only mom in the tot lot!"

These moms are in the process. I heard all manner of civic, and social engagement. No "ignoring problems beyond their reach." They are bonding as a community. This scene was repeated around the country as new energy electrified the electorate. Moms are widely disparate and being manipulated in opposition to each other but that cynical strategy is not going to work. When the pols and the pundits fail to deliver a safe and secure future for their children, the moms are going to unite and create their own. They are going to clear the decks of people who presume to tell them there is A way. The truth is that nothing dramatic happened that day, And that is as it should be.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post, which refuses a false dichotomy between a focus on children and a strong commitment to community. I don't think that was what Jong was trying to do but it's what seemed to come across. Children need to be in the company of committed parents and adults seeing through their commitments in all kinds of arenas and in the company of other children who have adults in their lives doing the same. Cross generational living reminds us who we are and should be as human beings. Thanks, Will. Diane Wood