A popular topic on the blogosphere these days is the tension generated by the so-called “mommy wars.”
Cloth diapers or disposable diapers?
Sears or Ezzo?
Breast milk or formula?
Stay-at-home mom or working mom?
Home school , public school , or private school?
Disney or Veggie Tales?
The “mommy wars” are the result of the abundance of choices that women of relative privilege enjoy, and it’s a shame that we’ve allowed our insecurities to so divide and distract us.
For while we argue about stroller brands and family size, millions of women are engaged in a different kind of mommy war, fighting with every decision of every day for the very survival and future of their children.
The questions they must ask are much different than ours:
Which child should I educate?
Which child should I feed?
Can we afford both food and textbooks?
Will I survive my next pregnancy?
Should we migrate for better farming or risk another year of drought?
Will my daughter be raped if she goes out to gather firewood?
Will my son be kidnapped and forced into war?
Should we pay for a mosquito net or a vaccine?
How many of my children will survive?
Will I live to see them grow up?
Yesterday we met a group of women who are on the frontlines of the real mommy wars.
Before World Vision came to Colomi, a rural region east of Cochabamba, the women there tried to organize a support group for mothers of children with special needs. In Bolivia, children with special needs are so stigmatized that their mothers are often blamed for their challenges and encouraged to abandon them. Children who cannot walk must use their arms to drag themselves across dirt floors. Often, they are not bathed or spoken to for days.
The support group in Colomi attracted just a few families who faced the ridicule and scorn of the community and a lack of resources and education to really improve the conditions of their families.
And yet they pressed on, meeting as often as they could…
When World Vision established an ADP (area development program) in Colomi about a year ago, the first thing the staff did was ask mothers in the area about the needs of their children.
“We want to stop abuse,” they said, “and we want to learn how to care for our sick children.”
And so World Vision’s first project in Colomi was to establish a special needs center there, where several dozen children—most of them awaiting sponsorship—now receive hearing aids, prosthetics, life-saving surgery, education, and the healing power of love and friendship. Mothers gather several times a week to exchange stories and to learn how to better care for their children. The facility is still in need of more funding, but you hear the constant sound of laughter echoing off the cement walls.
Studies show that when women direct the distribution of resources, the chances of those resources being invested in education and health increase dramatically. The women of Colomi just proved that.
These are the real mommy wars, and we should all be fighting them.
Our battles are not against one another but against hunger, disease, misogyny, rape, neglect, and exploitation.
As Sarah Styles Bessey so aptly put it a few weeks ago:
If it is a war on women, I can't be Winston Churchill. I am not the one leading the charge and very few listen to my small voice with its strong Canadian accent. I may not be a Katie Davis or a Christine Caine or a Dorothy Day. I may not be a Nancy Alcorn, let alone a Mother Theresa or an Oprah Winfrey or any other well-known woman fighting some small or large battle in this war against our sisters, mothers and daughters, our friends. Our big voices of freedom and workers for the wholeness of women stand as the generals and governments, the tacticians and leaders are our Allied forces.
No, I am not that important. I am small.
And my life is a bit small.
So I will be the French Resistance.
I will be the small underground movement, the insurgency, the one taking every opportunity, however small, to strike a blow for the Kingdom's way of womanhood.
If you want to join the insurgency and fight a “mommy war” worth fighting, sponsor a child today.