Sunday, November 18, 2012

Three Little Ideas

The universe has really been knocking on my door lately. Bear with me; my brain moves in circuitous paths. But here’s what happened. Three unrelated ideas added up to one big, deep thought.

First Idea: I tried to log onto my blog host site on my cell phone. I got on, but with this message:
“The browser we detected is unsupported and may result in unexpected behavior. Please choose from our list of supported browsers for the best experience.”

I want that message!

Seriously, I’d like to be able to choose a setting so that anyone who asks me for something gets this message.
“The mother we detected is unsupported and may result in unexpected behavior. Please choose from our list of supported mothers for the best experience.”

I admit, there are a couple of problems with that—beyond the obviously dubious grammar.

For one, I am, relatively speaking, a supported mother. I have a stable life, a loving husband, fantastic friends and family. But I want that message when I’m feeling stretched thin—times when, like this week, I manage to forget three major obligations.

Second Idea: I’ve been reliving part of my childhood lately and reading Lousia May Alcott’s books again. It’s amazing how much the “old-fashioned” values in Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys resonate with me. That’s an entirely different blog, though.

This time, I was struck by a discussion the characters had about, in quaint Victorian terms, why there need not be “superfluous women.” [Yeah, unfortunately, that means women who are not married or mothers. That’s the “we’re tourists in a different culture” part—we need to look beyond that to the meat of the idea.] The POINT of the characters’ discussion was that it takes more than one woman to raise a family. And I thought, Wow! Even back then???

In modern terms, I’d say that it takes more than two parents to raise a family. Regardless of how you divide up the tasks of raising the children and earning a living, those two priorities eat up all the time two people can give. It takes more than two people if you want things like quality of life—sanity, vacations, even date nights.

I’m so grateful for my mom friends—I’m so lucky to have awesome women looking out for me and each other—but I have to wonder if we, as a society, can’t do more for families. Better parental leave? Less pressure from “mompetition”? More vacation time to spend with geographically distant family? More involvement in communities within communities (like churches, neighborhoods, schools)?

Third Idea: I ran across one of THOSE studies today. Apparently, they have established a link between the stress level of a newborn girl’s mother and that girl’s cortisol levels in adolescence. So, yep, if you’re stressed out when your daughter’s a newborn, you’re dooming her to elevated anxiety in the teen years.

Thank you, science.

Put all three of these ideas together and….

Suddenly I really want to END the isolation and “parent-eat-parent” world we’ve created out there.

Every child is unique, every family is unique. Love binds us together as families. Let’s let that spill over into the community. We don’t have to “beat” other parents to give our children good lives. We don’t have to make more money than our parents did. We don’t have to change the whole big, wide world ourselves.

As a matter of fact, if those things stress us out, we need to STOP THEM.

Let’s all start within our homes. Let’s pick a stress point and try to disarm it. Let’s start in our daily lives by smiling at that tired parent with the wailing child. Let’s hold the door for someone lugging a baby in a car seat. Heck, let’s hold the doors for everyone—not just parents. Let’s smile at everyone.

Let’s cast out some little threads to connect each other in a positive way.

This is my revolution—who’s with me?

I really need a barricade, a flag, and some music for this last part to play out the way I’d like.

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