Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The State of Motherhood in America

A writer once wrote, "No nation is greater than its mothers, for they are the makers of men" But, when I turn on my television and see the numbers of mothers who are killing their children I must ask myself, "What drives a mother to point of killing her own child?" "What is it in our society that makes a mother feel so desparate, so alone, that she believes her only recourse is the death of herself and her children?" Andrea Yates, who killed her five children; Dee Etta Perez, who shot her three children; Deanna Lany, who beat her two sons; Lisa Ann Diaz who drowned her daughters; Dena Schlosser, who fatally severed her daughters arms; and now Gilberta Estrada, who hung herself and her children. Not to mention the countless number of babies that are born and left in dumpsters even with the passing of a new law that says they can leave them in safe places and receive no repercussions.

Loneliness, poverty, depression; what demons lurk behind the erstwhile smiles of these women that lead them to believe that death is the only option.

Women have suffered hardships for years. Slavery, the Great Depression, living during the Civil Rights Era, all of these times were hard, but you never heard of mothers killing their children. Instead that reached deep down inside themselves and mustered whatever strength they could to make sure that their children had better lives than they did.

What has changed? Nothing could be more devastating that being raped by a slave master, forced to have his illegitimate child, and then being forced to raise that child. Yet, these things happened and many of these children and/or their grandchildren grew up to be productive, effective citizens in our society.

During the Great Depression and the Civil Rights movements, money was scarce, but somehow people managed to take the little they had and turn it into something great. Material things were not the norm. What was more important was love of the family, togetherness, and morality.

Could it be that as a society we have focused so much on gaining material wealth that we have forgotten about people? There was a time when neighbors knew neighbors, intimately; when everyone in the neighborhood had a stake in raising good, well rounded children. If, a mother was suffering and needed support, she could go to the neighbors house and be assured that whatever they had would be shared with her and her family.

Motherhood is a gift from God and it should be cherished. However, in our day it has been massacred. It is mocked. Unfortunately, too many mothers exercise selfishness with small regard for their children whom they largely ignore.

Then their are those mothers who really try to do better, but because of bureaucratic red tape, and long waiting lines, they are left to their own devices to try to make it. Where is the love and support? Where is "Big Mama", "Mamaw", and Grandmother, who can help teach and nurture these young mothers? Or have they become a sign of the past as well.

Mothers are supposed to be the teachers of compassion, love, forgiveness, honesty, and integrity. Yet, because society has all but given up on these qualities, they are forced to spend their time looking for their next paycheck. Many of them can't even be with their children when they are ill because their jobs won't allow them to be off. Instead, the children drag off to school feeling bad and lacking the security and comfort of a mother's love. What have we done?

If, we don't cure the disease that is eating away at motherhood and do it soon, our nation is headed for destruction.

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