Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Maternal Digressions

Maternal Digressions
I hope that some day, being a mother will be seen as a normal part of life, and that mothers will be acknowledged as human beings. This site talks about the way women are treated when pregnant, when breastfeeding, and generally in mothering their children. Not well, especially when you consider how important the next generation's health (mentally and physically) is to the world's well-being. Being a mom is a 24/7 profession, and should pay as such. Sure, we are rewarded by seeing our children grow and develop. However, it's difficult to focus entirely on mothering when you have to worry about money because being a mom doesn't pay anything. It should. Society should pay a woman well to stay home (if that is her choice), well enough that she doesn't have to have an anxiety attack every time she spends money for groceries.

In traditional societies, childrearing is a part of everyday life, shared by all, and is integrated into the activities that support the family. Children help gather and prepare food, as well as provide help in making tools and other necessary items. They learn as they go, they are a part of the family and the community as a whole. Sure, they play, but they are enveloped in a constant context that includes all ages and generations. In our society, they are often shunted off to daycare at a few weeks old, and spend the majority of their time once mobile either doing busy work or being ignored and left to fend for themselves with other similarly aged children as models. This is because we have decided that children are best kept separate from adults as much as possible, due to their not having anything valuable to contribute. This dooms them to feelings of inadequacy and feeling abandoned. Even if a woman does stay home to care for young children, she is often so isolated from others that she gets depressed, or ends up sticking the kids in front of a video so she can get some time with other adults. What's wrong with this picture? Plenty!
What's the solution? Homeschooling, or unschooling, at least de-institutionalizes children, but it leaves them cut off from the adult world in many cases, simply because they don't fit in to the hushed, sterile, maze-like world so many adults toil in day by day (the lucky white collar workers, anyway). Is there a way to fit children into the real world without enslaving them or totally disrupting the world of work? Should the factories, offices, stores, etc. be so serious and locked down that children wouldn't fit in? I realize that child labor is not exactly what we need to go back to, in the sense of children being forced to put in long hours in noisy, dirty, dangerous, conditions. But should anyone work like that? Shouldn't work itself be changed, so as to make it less slavery like? Or would that be some sort of radical revolutionary thing? I don't know.

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