I intended to pick up last week’s Enjoli Woman and challenge her image of motherhood, but things weren’t falling together.
I intended to bring her, sashaying around in her white business suit and claiming women could do it all, do it with ease, and smell wonderful while doing it, and plop her into my reality of motherhood.
Those of us who are parents, or babysat at some point, know that at least that part of ‘doing it all’ often leaves us smelling like baby drool, baby vomit, curdled milk – either breast or formula, they each have their own distinctive, identifiable aroma when coming back up – and of course many of us have been the victim of the exploding diaper. It was years after early parenting that I felt safe wearing white.
The thing is, women were doing it all, and doing it well, whether they had another job outside of the home or not. But Enjoli set up the lie that mothering alone wasn’t the bedrock of the family or a community; it was just another chore in her 24-hour day. That work wasn’t important or ‘enough’, balanced against bringing home the bacon.
I intended to muse about how while we were elevating the idea of a ‘working woman’, it felt as if we’d somehow devalued the work of the women who wanted solely to be stay-at-home moms; that the two options didn’t carry equal weight. A conversation that isn’t new by any means, but placed alongside the book I recently read brought up some questions.
But then Ukraine.
Our Facebook and newsfeeds are filled with beautiful images of sunflowers, the blue and yellow bands of the Ukraine flag, the prayers, the updates, and the signs of solidarity. There’s a collective holding of our breath, of outrage and fear, and the hope and sincere belief that all our donations and signs of solidarity feed the Ukrainians’ resilience.
There is this collective yearning to mother, to protect.
The author Anne Lamott posted an essay yesterday about the need for that mothering now. She recalls the ‘shawl of mothers that the holy one knit together for us along the way’. They weren’t all our biological moms, and they weren’t all women. She’s talking about those who instilled in us the attributes and actions of nurturing – doing something for those less fortunate, opening our eyes to the beauty and wonder around us, praying for others. She calls that mother ‘a shawl of love’. She reminds us we are that mother.
A song has been running through my head the last week or two as it looked more and more like Putin was going to invade Ukraine. The song, Russia, (from Sting’s debut solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles) is hauntingly appropriate for today, even though it was released in 1985 and the Russian dictator has changed. The final lines of the refrain felt like a prayer then, and it does now.
We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
But what might save us, me and you
Is if the Russians love their children too.
Do any of us truly believe there’s an ‘if’?
May all our prayers and efforts, and the Ukrainians’ own strength, be enough.