I just finished reading a really great book, and it’s reminded me about what’s really important in parenting: being there, trying and loving.
The book, The Language of Flowers (Diffenbaugh) follows a young women through foster care and out into the world as she attempts to take care of herself and deal with some of the wounds inflicted from a life in the childcare system. Definitely hard reading for anyone with empathy, but also exhilarating to see what characters and actions affected her positively, and how amazingly resilient humans can be.
I finished the book with a lot more sympathy for the struggles mothers go through, particularly those without a sufficient support system. I can’t imagine doing what I’ve done – simply having a child and raising her to 20 months! – without the vast amounts of support I have, not least of which is healthcare and income assistance during a year of mat leave. Some people have none of this, no support system, and are expected to deal with the world on their own.
I am also ready to stand behind something I read recently on Facebook – an editorial in which the writer said that the only “mommy war” she felt was worth fighting was the one to ensure that all kids had moms. Yes! Others might not parent in ways that I understand or agree with, but the gap between their parenting and mine is meaningless compared to life with and without a mother. And yes, fathers absolutely matter too, and someone else might be the core figure(s) in a child’s life. Having that figure who is a parent – who loves you and is committed to a lifetime with you – that’s everything. That is home, security, self-worth, peace of mind, community, family, love and life.
Though I still care quite passionately about any number of parenting issues, I can feel how this new understanding can temper any judgment or pointless worrying over nuances that I’m prone to. Embrace and support parents, and work in whatever way makes sense to make the world better so more kids and parents can stay together, and eager parents can be matched with deserving children.