My son’s tiny lips brush gently against mine. His eyes are open wide, intent on landing a kiss directly on my mouth while his little hands hold my head still. He is only two, and usually a rough and tumble little man, but every so often this gentle streak, that reminds me of his father, comes to the surface. I’ll always treasure these bedtime moments with my little boys. This is the time of day when I enjoy being a mother the most.
I’ve never had the desire to be a stay-at-home mother and I always knew I’d never be very good at it. The fact is that not every woman has an innate ability to be a good mother and some, like me, are quite clumsy at it. I don’t have much patience for crying, I get side-tracked by ideas while baby decides to make soup with my blackberry in the toilet bowl, and I tend to forget things like meal time and diaper changes.
One of our columnists, Michael Coren, states in this issue that a mother of young children has a duty to be at home with them. But this ignores the fact that being a mother is work, and like all work, some women are happy doing it full-time while others are happier with it in short stints, and some just shouldn’t be mothers at all. If you completely ignore the fact that there are bad mothers (think drug addicts and abusive women) then one might be able to agree with Coren. The fact is that there are good and bad mothers and everything in between, and the true duty of a mother is not to be at home, but to provide the best care possible for her children. In some cases this means that the mother should not be the primary caregiver.
Coren isn’t alone. There are a growing number of people who hope that by having the mother back in the home the world will somehow change, and it will go back to the way things used to be when crime and violence weren’t daily occurrences. Part of me wishes there was such an easy solution — but it isn’t that simple. The world has changed. Corporate culture has risen to dominate North America, the population has increased dramatically, wealth and opulence create waste, and the moral fibre of our culture – once monopolized by the church – is unravelling.
Can motherhood truly stop this evolution of society? All one has to do is look back through history to notice that every society goes through its moral peaks and valleys. There is an evolution to civil society; wealth goes up and the need for morality goes down. Ethics grew out of the need to live in a civil manner with other people. When times are tough people count more on their neighbours to survive; in times of affluence people don’t need others and forget the importance of morality. We happen to be in a moral decline. Trying to go back to the way things used to be isn’t possible, but there may still be a solution.
Solutions are easier to find when you have a strong, educated, and diverse group of people working together. With women now taking on more leadership roles, the face of corporate culture is changing. Women are questioning the status quo, and so too are men. It only takes a bit of education (mix of history and religion) to understand that the world is divided into followers and leaders, and leaders armed with ethical values have much more influence than those who aren’t.
Doing what one is good at, and doing it ethically, makes for a better result than trying to do what one isn’t good at and doing it badly.
My three-year-old is calling me from the top of the stairs. He wants me to lie down with him for just two more minutes. I must go back to being a mother.
Sarah Thomson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.