Celebrating Motherhood – Joining Forces
“In the day of 27 February 1782, the list from Nikolskiy monastery came to Moscow containing the information that a peasant of the Shuya district, Feodor Vassilyev, married twice, had 87 children. His first wife in 27 confinements gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. His second wife in eight confinements gave birth to six pairs of twins and two sets of triplets. F. Vassilyev was 75 at that time with 82 of his children alive.” Whew!
Typical of many cultures, the name of this mother has been lost, signifying that her value was only as a spouse and not as a person in her own right. This struggle for women to gain recognition for being themselves is not over.
“Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.” Robert Heinlein wrote that in his book “Have Space Suit – Will Travel”. I think it is the most truthful quote regarding motherhood I could offer you today, on this day that in the United States celebrates Motherhood. I will also remind you of what I said in my last post – We all give birth every day, actually every hour, to our own future.
Mothers, however, are not strictly just those women who have given birth. For various reasons, a woman can birth a child and never raise it. While science has made great strides in helping women with fertility problems bear a child, we still cannot create life without the basic ingredients of life from a female and a male. Motherhood is not possible with a father somewhere in the picture. Thus, mothering is just part of this equation we call life.
Today I want to mention two mothers – one a minority woman who is the poster child for what one can achieve with a good supportive family and the other, proof that someone can enter a family and be a great mother.
Michelle Obama was not born into a situation that ensured success. No private school was expecting her and by her own admission, standardized tests would not have gotten her into college if that was the sole determining factor. Michelle was encouraged and supported by her family, however, and she soon learned that study and hard work would reap results.
“I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity,” Michelle Obama explains. “One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals.”
Dr. Jill Biden married into a family that had seen tragedy. Her new husband had two sons but had lost a wife and daughter in a tragic accident. Jill Biden is the first wife of a sitting vice president of the United States to hold a job, earning her own paycheck while her husband earns his.
As reported in a 2010 interview in Marie Claire magazine, her schedule is not laid back at all. “On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Jill Biden rises at 6 a.m.; dresses; gobbles toast, coffee, and a 2% Fage yogurt; and hustles out the door for the 30-minute commute (via modest motorcade) to NOVA [Northern Virginia Community College]. Though academia is hardly a fashion bastion, Biden, who teaches English, always looks camera-ready for class. “I think it’s important how I come across to my students,” she says. “I want them to see how professional women dress.” Biden is exceedingly sensitive about how she is perceived by her students. According to one news account, after Secret Service arrived in suits and earpieces on her first day at NOVA, she suggested they dress less conspicuously. The next day they showed up looking like junior bankers on Casual Friday — khakis and ties. Biden again asked them to tone it down. Some of her students have only a vague awareness of her role as second lady. Asked once if she was related to the vice president, Biden responded efficiently, “Yes, we are related.”
While many of their deeds have gone unreported, this past week these two women celebrated the fifth anniversary of a special project of theirs – Joining Forces. In a wonderful nod to motherhood and fatherhood as well as families, Joining Forces helps the families of active duty military personnel. Today you can show your support and share a message with those whose mothers and fathers are helping defend freedom and mothers all around the world. Think of it as sending a Mother’s Day card to military families worldwide. Go to http://joiningforces.uso.org and complete your card today.