The Politicization of Motherhood
by Isabel Lyman
14 May 2000

Isabel Lyman This Mother's Day, a pro-gun control Million Mom March is being held in Washington, D.C. There will also be an Armed Informed Mothers' March, a counterdemonstration, on behalf of the rights of gun owners. In Miami, Mothers and Women Against Repression in Cuba, dressed in black and praying the rosary, were among the protesters gathered outside Elian Gonzalez's home.

None of this is news, really. Moms have long organized for a host of diverse causes: against drunk driving, for a livable planet, against gangs, for Israel, against circumcision.

But one wonders: Are there any women left who are passionate, not about a cause celebre, but about caring for their own children? You know, Mothers who Mother for the Sake of Mothering (MMSM)?

Well, yes, there are, and here's who gets my vote - moms who home school. Nowadays there are plenty of home schooled wunderkinds who are receiving scholarships to Harvard or Julliard, becoming Eagle Scouts, getting praised in The Wall Street Journal, being drafted in the National Football League, winning a Grammy, or building houses for the poor in Mexico.

And moms, of course, made much of it possible.

Ironically, many home schooling moms who are raising these be-all-you-can-be kids are not the kind of gals who would be recruited for membership in the National Organization of Women.

Oh, they are progressive enough with their cell phones, laptops, Suburbans, college educations, loose-fitting clothes and e-mail networks. But their opinions of feminists are not favorable.

Take Cindi Grelen, 41, an Edmond home schooling mother of two daughters who has a bachelor's degree in elementary education. To Cindi, a ‘feminist’ is an angry person who is self-absorbed and on a desperate search for peace.

Nancy Mansour, 44, is another Edmond home schooling mother and a former nurse. She has four home schooled children. Nancy dislikes stereotyping but thinks feminists are lesbian women who are anti-men and anti-family.

Margo Hampton, 50, of Guthrie, has one grown daughter and three children that she still teaches at home. Says Margo, “A feminist brings to mind a woman who is opposed to marriage and out for herself and her career.”

What's wrong with these ladies? Haven't they heard that the patriarchal Dark Ages have ended and that the goddess rules?

These women also report - sorry for the bad news, Hillary R.C. - that they are very fulfilled working at home in their dual role as teacher and mother.

Nancy notes, “I didn't find as much satisfaction in the career world as I have in watching my children grow and learn.”

Cindi says, while she may miss out on the extra money and esteem that a profession may bring, she revels in the freedom she has to “really know my children.”

Margo, who works one day per week in her husband's business, says that no job compares “to the peace and joy of being at home with my kids and establishing close relationships with them.”

How quaint, how unavant-garde, how... refreshing.

True confession: I spent a decade running a private school and watching my husband coach youth sports teams.

During that time, I became very frustrated meeting many youngsters, largely from middle-class homes, who learned their ABCs and their values from the entertainment industry. Loved-starved children who spent more time with strangers or “professional care givers” than with their parents.

This, the most affluent generation, has relegated the serious task of child rearing to a back burner. Bad, bad move.

On the plus side, I am delighted that mothers, like Cindi, Nancy, and Margo, exist. Mothers who are providing their offspring with a secure home and home school. It's an honorable calling, and, if it means they get dubbed’ "anti-feminist," then so be it.

This column appeared in The Edmond Sun on May 14, 2000.

Isabel Lyman lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. A former editorial columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Massachusetts, her views have appeared in various national publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily. She may be contacted via e-mail by clicking here.
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