This Mothers Day we are all given the opportunity to step back and thank our mothers for the often thankless job of bringing us up. This year in particular, I’d like to give a shout-out to the type of mother who just makes the liberals squirm — mine.
My stay-at-home mom, who left her MBA career to raise three children and ended up as enemy number one of the local teachers union, couldn’t have been a better example of what a selfless mother can provide to her children. Her stay-at-home-mom career is one to which I aspire, which I would view as the apex of all my years of education and life experience. (In the meantime, I’ve got Legal Insurrection.)
Like many children who adore their mothers, I think mine was unusually apt in her role. From hand-sewn Halloween costumes to Civil War battlefield spring break trips, she was the main architect of an appropriately strict but loving upbringing. We had the freedom to get ourselves into numerous scrapes, but the foundation from which to understand the right way to get out of them.
We were sent away from the age of 9 to 18 to summer camp in Colorado at her insistence, despite the remonstrances of soccer coaches and the allure of grade-point-average-padding summer school tutors. She wanted us to face fear, appreciate the outdoors, a healthy level of danger, and develop that knowledge that (I think) mountains uniquely carve into those who test themselves against them.
To me, she excelled in the way that though it seems unparalled by any who had come before or after her; but I suspect that sentiment may be shared by many other happy children about their moms.
As Tolstoy wrote at the beginning of Anna Karenina, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
But mostly I saw her sacrifice the prestige and independence that a career might have afforded to fight it out in the trenches of what might be the most hostile territory a parent can enter: the public school system. She took our PTA out of the national system so that it became the PTO, filed FOIA requests to determine if school district contracts had competitive bidding, and eventually sought public service as a member of the locally elected school board.
There, I saw her endure ridicule, venom, and derision as the lone conservative school board member who dared to vote against the teachers union. I saw also her fear the impact her challenges to the teachers union would have on her children’s schooling (we didn’t care, we had the example of a tough and principled mother to live up to).
She had worked for Don Rumsfeld and once you lived up to his standards, she said, nothing could scare you.
I owe my dedication to this country and its principles, and whatever fearlessness I can muster on a given day, to the example she provided me. While each of our mothers have their own unique story, my mother’s required particular courage and selflessness, which continues to this day.
In order to sustain our representative republic, we cannot leave mothering up to the state. This Mothers Day, let’s celebrate those who embrace all the challenges and opportunities motherhood provides, without feeling shame or apologizing for their role.
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