The Liberating Power of Negative Thinking
by Annegret Hunter
I am a loser. Oh, there is no doubt about it. I read it recently in an article. Some feminist writer thinks that being a mom at home is “not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings.” The tasks of moms at home “do not require a great intellect, they are not honored and they do not involve risks and the reward that risk brings.”
There you have it. I always had the sneaking suspicion that I should have followed my youthful passion and become a race-car driver—think of the risks involved! But no, I had to park not just my race car but also my brain, for I married, had children, and ended up taking care of the family, and what did I get from that? Motherly memories, which, although they are devoid of talent and intellect, I nevertheless do cherish.
A Little Shabby
For example, there is the first outing alone: just a cup of coffee with another mom. One more kiss for the baby, one more time holding him to your shoulder and rubbing his soft little back, then you are out the door, only to discover, at the café, that he had puked down your back, which you desperately pretend not to notice, while you decide not to tell your friend she is wearing her skirt inside out. You talk about nothing but babies, of course, and the moment you hear a baby crying, anywhere, you liquefy.
Or you take the bus, carrying in your arms your beautiful baby, who starts pointing at some guy and trills: “Dada, Dada,” and you, red as a tomato, flee from the bus and walk the distance to the store, where the saleswoman coos over the little darling and asks whether you are the grandmother, and you don’t even have enough energy to strangle her. Or while enjoying adult conversation at a dinner party, you absent-mindedly turn to your neighbor on the left and cut his meat into little pieces, and gently put down the hand of your neighbor to the right, because he is pointing with his knife.
Pondering the feminist writer’s (just can’t think of her name!) intellectual life, her razor-sharp mind and insights, her many publications, I feel a little shabby in comparison. And it is true that one is not honored anymore: “There she goes with her kids. Gave up everything just to be with them. What a waste!”
The business of risks and the remarks thereon, however, I do not quite grasp. The feminist writer (what was her name?) was neither a firewoman nor a war correspondent, and I do not think that being in women’s studies is any more risky than bringing up a family, but I am probably missing something.
Before we had children, some friends of ours had two little ones, the appropriate number. Both parents were important professionals, and had the family routine planned out and functioning perfectly. They had found a lovely lady down the street who took the kids even when they were sick, before and after daycare. The children were very happy there, and the parents could work long hours.
After a year, they were giving up jobs and city, moving away from it all, and being pregnant again. “What happened?” I asked, standing bewildered in the living room amongst boxes and suitcases, the kids chattering, giggling, and jumping on their dad, who laughed and swung them around and around, and the mom looked at them with happy eyes, and said softly: “We thought things were going so well, until I noticed that the children were calling the other woman ‘Mommy.’ I did not want to lose them; I could not take that risk.”
Annegret Hunter recovered after homeschooling two boys and was pleased to discover she was still a Christian, a wife, and a bookbinder. Her husband Graeme is a contributing editor of Touchstone.
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