Discourse is an important element to understanding others’ perspectives and moving towards resolution, but it’s important that it does not cloud the reality that we can accomplish much more by teaming up than by standing our ground and opposing others who likely share at least some of our goals and obstacles.
Take the native Americans. In “City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America” by Donald L. Miller, it is apparent that white Europeans would not have easily taken over region by region in the new world if they did not overcome the “Indian problem” referred to in the book. Before cities like Chicago were chartered, native Americans outnumbered settlers in the 1700s — but each Indian tribe had its own language, customs and rulers and often battled against other tribes in addition to the new threat from invaders. If they all had a commitment to one Indian nation initially and fought the white man together, their power to resist and negotiate would have been greatly enhanced.
The opposite is generally true with modern Americans. No matter how much Republicans and Democrats argue about the direction of the country, they are both so passionate about their beliefs because they want America to remain the leader in the world. We realize this when terrorists attempt to divide and conquer us through fear, because attacks often make political differences melt away as we all realize that our collective commitment to a safe and free homeland takes priority over our differing opinions about the best way to maintain that.
But when it comes to mothers and all of the issues that affect us uniquely, are we united as one voice or easily divided to be conquered by others? I believe mothers have not yet fully embraced the concept that many of the hurdles we face could finally be overcome if we attacked them together with one common effort. We hear stay-at-home mothers criticize working mothers for putting their kids in daycare, and see career moms insult moms who left the workforce to raise kids by implying that they have it easy. The mommy wars create myriad debates: breastfeeding moms vs. formula moms, helicopter mothers vs. free range mothers, over scheduled moms vs. laissez-faire moms, public school mothers vs. home school mothers, and on and on. But the reason we wage these wars is because we care so deeply about the nurturing of our children and the happiness of ourselves.
If we focused on those common goals — rather than the disputes over the best way to achieve them — we could accomplish so much more.
What would happen if ALL mothers teamed up to fight for these?
- Affordable, quality daycare AND Tax breaks for stay-at-home moms
- Mandated, paid family leave AND Incentives for corporate flex time
- Affordable health care for children AND Tax breaks for small business
- Public preschool AND Moral guidance from teachers
- Aggressive child support enforcement AND Affordable marriage counseling
- Universal college scholarships AND Accessible small business loans
- Affordable prenatal care AND Teen sex education counseling
I already know what would happen. The 85 million mothers in the United States who combined with the estimated 1.9 billion mothers in the rest of the world — from the OverAcheiving Moms juggling careers and kids to the abused mothers prohibited by law to drive or leave home without a man — would be the most powerful force on the planet shaping political will, public opinion, corporate policies and our future generations.