I realize I have a propensity to oversimplify. I am thankful for the Titus 2 instruction embodied in the Greek word “oikouros.” It is straightforward and simple (though hard to do, in our culture). At the same time, I’m thinking I could figure out that moms of young children need to be with those children, nurturing and training them, even if I did not have that specific instruction in the New Testament. Just like the commission of murder and theft and adultery surely would violate my conscience if I were marooned somewhere and had missed exposure to the Bible, I think I would, albeit perhaps through a bit more of a process, figure out that my children need me to be a fairly constant caretaker.
But it would be even easier to figure it out from my community in Huntsville, AL. I’d figure out the “natural-ness” of it when I cried that first day I had to leave her to go to work. I’d figure it out when I watched moms in my neighborhood rushing out the door on freezing mornings before dawn with babies and toddlers in their pajamas. I’d figure it out when I looked down the street at the in-home daycare run by my friend and watched those dressed-for-office-in-heels moms hurrying those children into her home, while handing her the antibiotic, the clothing, the diapers and the comfort toys. I’d figure it out when I heard about moms (lots of them) who birth children who have to go in the NICU and then the hospital staff does not see those moms again until it is pick-up day. I’d figure it out when I talked to young teen girls who find themselves pregnant. Conception almost always occurs in the afternoon hours when school is out, but mom is not yet home from work. I’d probably think about it when my daughter worked in a museum for children and there were multiple occasions when children were accidentally left behind after hours by day care workers who failed to count heads correctly as buses were loaded. (Sometimes they never even missed the children till my daughter called to report there was a child still in the museum and it was closing time.) I’d figure it out through counseling kids with porn addictions, gang memberships and eating disorders…a common denominator, in my experience, often being parents who dropped the “involvement” ball somewhere along the line. I’d have figured it out that day at summer camp when Brianna’s mom did not have time to come and get her for an emergency doctor visit. After the emergency, and having understood that her mom was sick, I asked Brianna “Now, what is the matter with your mom? I am so sorry that she is in pain.”
“Oh no,” Brianna said. “She is not in pain. She is in paint. This is her one week off work and she is trying to get a room painted, so she could not come to get me.” It’s not a wonder that Brianna was already deeply into a very dangerous eating disorder.
Kids are not cows. Cows need food, water, shelter, a place to exercise and someone to give them some attention when they are sick. It doesn’t really matter to cows who the someone is. But kids are different because of the souls placed in them. It matters. It matters that the someone is consistent, conversational, deeply concerned about their well-being, and connected to all aspects of their lives. These factors have been proven to be important to success over and over again. They are especially important to spiritual success; the only kind of success that really matters. The someone needs to pretend with them, make them laugh, and wipe their bottoms and clean up their vomit without it being a disgusting job. The someone needs to, in fact, truly wish she could be sick instead of the child.
See, the Deuteronomy 6 type parenting (you know, the rising-up, sitting-down, walking-by-the- way and lying-down-at night-kind) is not possible in circumstances where small children are not even with their moms during the vast majority of their waking hours. Convictions happen in conversations.
Just because you are the birth mother does not necessarily mean you are the mother in all respects. If you hurriedly get up in the morning—almost every morning—and rush your little one off for someone else to dry his tears, read him a story, feed him lunch and put him down for his nap, you maybe should think before calling yourself “mama”. Someone else could be filling that role more fully than are you. Someone else may actually be more responsible for the values being placed in your child. And it is especially sad when it is a lot of different someones with multiple, varied and confusing sets of values and standards.
I really don’t want to be harsh. But I think articulation in behalf of children is important. I cannot write a blog without occasionally speaking this glaring truth that’s so often ignored by a society in which the children are often left behind in a quest for financial and social success. Children are sometimes not able to articulate even the basic golden rule. But they are in desperate need of the application of it in America today by the adults in their volatile little worlds.