Thursday, June 12, 2014

To the Woman Who is Not a Mother: I Value Your Advice

Maybe you saw me at Mass the other day, looking annoyed, just trying to pray, while the little girl pointed  again and again to Christ on the Stained Glass. Maybe you wanted to tell me "look! See!" But you didn't want to be pushy.

Maybe my daughter crashed her Trader Joe's kid-cart into you yesterday and I snapped. Maybe you wanted to whisper: "patience" to me as I walked away with her, but kept silent.

Maybe you sat behind me and heard me wonder aloud about teaching her to trust God and not worry. Maybe you wanted to tell me how, maybe you've learned how from a mother, sister, friend, or father. Maybe you just wanted to share your wisdom, as a woman, as a person, as a Christian. But you kept your mouth shut and felt shut out, because you've no children of your own, and mothers are a touchy, exclusive group these days. We've told you so many times, in blogs, in articles, in day to day life that you're not qualified to speak here, not in our world, not on our issues. 

We want to hear from moms of 9, 12, or at least 4 kids! Seasoned mothers, not newbees, and especially not you. 

Well, we're wrong. 

You are qualified. In some cases, you're more qualified to speak than the mother who speaks as a mother to mothers..because you're speaking more purely as a person - neither mother nor young child; beyond the roles and 'sides' we give each other in conflicts, you can speak to and for the people involved, and there are always at least two people in every parenting struggle.

So speak up, please!

If you can remember your childhood, and the way you felt when your mother related to you as I relate to my daughter, remind me.

If you can empathize with that screaming baby, that defiant child, that searching up those feelings to me.

If you see me carelessly neglecting the vocation I've been given, whether you long for it or not, whether you ever want to be in my shoes or not, please, call me on it. 

And don't be afraid to let me know that your theater job stole as much or more sleep than my newborn, so long as you pass on the skills you used to deal with it!

You have the right and the calling to be a voice for the good in my life, even as it relates to my parenting, and I need to hear from you. 

I need to hear from someone who isn't comparing her parenting to my own. From someone who isn't trying to affirm me in the hopes I'll affirm her mothering as well. We need advice and suggestions and direction from beyond the 'mommy wars'. And we need to be reminded that no, motherhood is not a 'high and lonely destiny,' it is a vocation within the church, a vocation that wants participation from the whole church - including you!

I know I can't speak for the whole of mothers..but I can tell you that if they don't want to at least hear and consider your advice, merely because you have no children of your own, and if they don't think you're able to speak to them about raising children in love and joy - then they're wrong.  They're insulating themselves from the wisdom of their sisters, and you should tell them that too.


  1. Aww, M.! I really appreciate this post. (I came here half-expecting the title to be sarcastic -- sorry, M.! -- but then it wasn't and it made my day). <3

    Hope you and Y .are doing all right!

  2. I'm so glad you liked it! ...and HORRIFIED you thought it might be sarcastic, but that's kind of why I wanted to write it, because so many women without children feel gagged by the whole "who are you to talk" attitude I keep seeing and hearing everywhere! And I think it's such a broken attitude!

    Tell Charles that Y likes playing mechanic on that truck he gave her..she changes the tires (tires are a particular passion of hers) and checks the brakes and hauls it out of the mud ("I am the tow truck guy, and this is Bushia and Dziadzia!"). I'm trying to train her up to be our family mechanic, so I let her watch when we did the brakes last month :)

  3. Mothers aren't this specially privileged group, like we talked about in the Mothers Day posts, but in an era of an over-bearing pubic or society, I can understand where mothers get defensive about un-asked for advice. It's not necessarily the experience or lack thereof of the one offering advice, but the personal relationship between the adviser and the advisee. To use myself for an example: I take to heart with gratitude any feedback offered by, say, Jenna, while that offered by my own mother might get me defensive. Or, in another example, my mother can NOT say anything about my weight, the relationship is just too wounded on that particular topic. But if my friend Dr. Mike mentioned that he cared about my weight gain, I wouldn't at all be offended and would internalize his concern and/or advise immediately. Does that make sense? c;