Even before I became a mother, I had heard bits and pieces of the Mommy Wars saga. I didn’t pay much attention to it, partly because I wasn’t a mom yet, and partly because I hate getting in the middle of controversy and taking sides. I’d much rather be the peace-keeper, and dwell in places where we agree and get along.
But five months into my journey of motherhood, I have realized that I can’t ignore the battle front. Now that I’m a mom, I find the Mommy Wars are all around me, like invisible soldiers that I run into, surprised and defenseless. Not a good place to start. Clearly I must muster up a better defense, or better yet, an offense.
So many things have already been said by those with much more wisdom and experience than myself. Yet I must “choose sides” or find a way to stay neutral. Either way, I must engage, lest I find myself discouraged and defeated by a war I never wanted to participate in at all.
For those of my friends who haven’t started down the road of parenthood, what is the Mommy Wars? In short, it is two extremes and everything in between about the “right and wrong” way to parent our children. And we’re not just talking ideas or philosophy here — it gets down-right dirty, in the cloth vs. disposable diapers kind of way. You have to choose sides (or so it seems) because you are trying to figure out how to love your little one best, and everyone is trying to sell their opinion on what’s best for your children.
But I find the Mommy Wars goes deeper than just choices of baby care. There is a greater context to this battle, and one that I believe demands a response from those of us who walk with our Creator God.
I’ve been reading through a book by Carolyn McCulley called Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World. In it, she discusses the history of feminism and its influences on our world today. She explores arenas such as keeping a home, motherhood, and sexuality. One of her main premises is that feminism has always been anti-Christian. Its greatest leaders were adamantly against the Church, presumably because of anti-feminist values they perceived. McCulley goes on to suggest that anything that strays from the Truth is likely to have devastating results. And indeed, some major feminist proponents have lead our society down roads of destruction in the pursuit of equality.
For instance, Margaret Sanger, the founder of birth control and Planned Parenthood, wasn’t just interested in empowering woman to choose when they wanted to have children. McCulley writes, “Sanger believed that all evils stemmed from large families, especially large families of those she deemed as unfit. As she wrote in her 1920 book Woman and the New Race, ‘The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.'”
Her legacy may not live on in how birth control is used today, but her voice influenced our society in a very anti-children direction. Sanger’s Planned Parenthood actively worked towards making abortion legal. And here enters stage left the ongoing battle of pro-life versus woman’s rights that we are surrounded by today.
And then there’s the working mom and the feminist agenda that encourages woman to pursue career first and children later. McCulley cites author Sylvia Ann Hewlett who made a startling discovery about women in career positions that were traditionally male: “While doing her interviews, Hewlett discovered that none of her subjects had children, and none had actually chosen to be childless. Childlessness was a result of their career dedication.” McCulley goes on to suggest that many woman arrive at their desire career destination only to discover they are too old to bear the children they wanted to have.
Reading McCulley’s book has helped me to see that there is grand war raging in our world against children. Abortion or prioritizing careers above motherhood are just one battle front. The pursuit of efficiency and convenience are another. Children are inconvenient. They demand our time and energy literally night and day for several years of our lives. They defy scientific rules of “what babies should do” all the time! (My daughter’s sleep patterns is a prime example!) Having children “keeps us” from careers, and convenient socializing, and all the other “dreams” we come up with for ourselves as we strive towards the “you-can-have-it-all” standard our feminist world has created for us.
This is the context where I have found myself needing to take up arms — the subtle cue of being a mom and then some. There is a lie that permeates our cultures thinking — that “just being a mom” isn’t good enough. You have to have your own small business on Etsy, or a fabulously designed house, or … you name it.
And it makes sense, for if our culture thinks that a baby isn’t a human being upon conception, then surely they aren’t deserving of our equal time and attention when they are actually born. No, just strap them into the carseat and make them fit into your life. Your life matters more than theirs – they’re just babies after all.
This is so anti-Christian. Christ came to serve not to be served. How much more ought we choose to serve our children during these precious years when they are so dependent on us. God created us for dependence on Him — not independence. Let’s not encourage independence on our children as if dependency was such a negative existence.
I whole-heartedly take up arms — Carolyn McCulley says it better than I could:
“You may be a mother and in the thick of rearing children right now. Perhaps it took you many weeks to read this chapter, thanks to the constant interruption of young children. Your daily life may consist of dozens of repetitive tasks that feel so mundane and irrelevant. You kiss boo-boos, you make dinner, you do dishes, you answer a homework question, you drive to soccer practice, you read a good-night story, you do laundry, you make dinner again. Unglamorous daily tasks and unimportant in the big picture, you may think.
This is absolutely not true! You are engaged in spiritual warfare, battling against beliefs and philosophies that slander God’s name and tarnish His gifts to us. You are standing against those who believe heinous lies, like ‘the most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.’ By giving life and nurturing life, you are reflecting the life-giving characteristics of our holy God! Made in His image, you are reflecting Him when you are for the lives He has created…We need to take a stand…”