Yes and no. While sheer love and worry can guide us to a certain extent there are evermore societal dichotomies, contradictions and plain old dangers out there to keep us all spinning. And these same societal contradictions are seeping into some serious children's literature. A kid's book by well known BC writer Niki Tate poses a problem that is baffling adults. Entitled Trouble on Tarragon Island, a young girl struggles with the deforestation of her island home. I think this is an important book which is why I wrote the blurb on the back of it. Which in turn prompted Jenni Cash in reviewing the book for Monday magazine recently to comment in her opening paragraph that none of my kids have written about me. Yet.
When I passed this comment along to three of my four daughters (one is totally lost under a pile of academia) all on the same day their reactions were identical...did I really think any segment of society might benefit in some obscure way from putting yet another Mommy Dearest book out there?
I was quite taken aback. Okay, I've not been the world's greatest mother, but who has? Show me one. Just one. And it's getting harder and harder to mother anybody or anything in this society that holds such contempt for mothering in the first place. Mothering occupies a weird space in our culture. Everybody needs and longs for mothering while at the same time we collectively deny that it's terribly important by where we demand that our politicians put our collective money (it seems that Harper may successfully kill the proposed universal day care program which working parents sorely need as good day care is an essential component of mothering) . And while it's acceptable for both men and women to individually mother children, even that isn't honestly honoured or celebrated because women primarily do it. And this denial of the incredible importance and necessity of mothering regardless of who does it exists in tandem with the most awful pornography where women are not seen as mothers and life givers, but as sexual body parts that will be devalued as soon as the parts age a bit. And the right to spread this image of women and increasingly children is enshrined in law. Free speech, you know.
Free speech? Nothing is free. We pay for this devaluing of mothering in our society. Coupled with the overvaluing of sex acts women are more loath to trust men, men less like to respect women. Which in turn makes parenting more difficult for both. Parenting is not a private matter; it takes more than a mother and father, sometimes single, or even a village to raise children. It takes an entire country.