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    Happy Mothers Day to every unapologetic mom fighting in the trenches

    Happy Mothers Day to every unapologetic mom fighting in the trenches

    This Mothers Day we are all given the opportunity to step back and thank our mothers for the often thankless job of bringing us up. This year in particular, I’d like to give a shout-out to the type of mother who just makes the liberals squirm — mine.

    My stay-at-home mom, who left her MBA career to raise three children and ended up as enemy number one of the local teachers union, couldn’t have been a better example of what a selfless mother can provide to her children. Her stay-at-home-mom career is one to which I aspire, which I would view as the apex of all my years of education and life experience. (In the meantime, I’ve got Legal Insurrection.)

    Like many children who adore their mothers, I think mine was unusually apt in her role. From hand-sewn Halloween costumes to Civil War battlefield spring break trips, she was the main architect of an appropriately strict but loving upbringing. We had the freedom to get ourselves into numerous scrapes, but the foundation from which to understand the right way to get out of them.

    We were sent away from the age of 9 to 18 to summer camp in Colorado at her insistence, despite the remonstrances of soccer coaches and the allure of grade-point-average-padding summer school tutors. She wanted us to face fear, appreciate the outdoors, a healthy level of danger, and develop that knowledge that (I think) mountains uniquely carve into those who test themselves against them.

    To me, she excelled in the way that though it seems unparalled by any who had come before or after her; but I suspect that sentiment may be shared by many other happy children about their moms.

    As Tolstoy wrote at the beginning of Anna Karenina, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    But mostly I saw her sacrifice the prestige and independence that a career might have afforded to fight it out in the trenches of what might be the most hostile territory a parent can enter: the public school system. She took our PTA out of the national system so that it became the PTO, filed FOIA requests to determine if school district contracts had competitive bidding, and eventually sought public service as a member of the locally elected school board.

    There, I saw her endure ridicule, venom, and derision as the lone conservative school board member who dared to vote against the teachers union. I saw also her fear the impact her challenges to the teachers union would have on her children’s schooling (we didn’t care, we had the example of a tough and principled mother to live up to).

    She had worked for Don Rumsfeld and once you lived up to his standards, she said, nothing could scare you.

    I owe my dedication to this country and its principles, and whatever fearlessness I can muster on a given day, to the example she provided me. While each of our mothers have their own unique story, my mother’s required particular courage and selflessness, which continues to this day.

    In order to sustain our representative republic, we cannot leave mothering up to the state. This Mothers Day, let’s celebrate those who embrace all the challenges and opportunities motherhood provides, without feeling shame or apologizing for their role.

    Anyone else have a mother who deserves a Legal Insurrection shout-out?


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    Jenny | May 13, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Hoorah for your Mom! You were blessed.

    What a great tribute to a fantastic lady! Thanks for sharing her with us.

    MomInLatteland | May 13, 2012 at 11:55 am

    What a great tribute! Having grown up in the 60’s and 70’s, my mother was the one who baked the cupcakes for the class party and supported my siblings and I in whatever endeavor we chose to pursue. She expected us to stand up for ourselves and use our brains to get ahead. Her counsel was usually given in aphorisms such as “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” (her favorite) or with a short sentence that shamed you into doing the right thing.

    After 10 years in the work world, I too chose to stay at home and raise my own children and have never regretted that choice. As they are now launching into the adult world, I am becoming a “warrior”, carrying the fight to the trenches because I believe that no one cares about your children as much as you do; and no one will ever raise them as well as you will. Hooray for SAHM’s.

      Anne Sorock in reply to MomInLatteland. | May 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Those aphorisms sure are sticky! I remember, “you’ll get your reward in heaven.” It’s the little things like cupcakes that mean so much in retrospect, thanks for sharing!

    Aidan Denis | May 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Mother Nights

    Mothers don’t pray like the rest of us.

    I learned that long ago. Have a brother at war and you’ll learn a lot of things about your mother. Sure, she seems to be the same Mom. The house works, the other kids go about growing up and the mundane and ordinary seem to be the substance of the days. But not the nights.

    Night’s a different story. No meals or laundry or drop-offs. No daily routines scheduled. No searches for missing gloves or shoes or books.. No school project solving or whispers to grow up on. No friend analysis or girlfriend observations. Or rah-rahs from the stands. Nope. Nights belong to the son on the other side of the world. Far from a phone. Far from home.

    And her nights are almost silent. But not entirely. Because she thinks the house is wrapped in sleep, so her prayer-murmurs seem safe from others’ ears. But she’s tricked by the silence of the dark because her whispers might as well be cathedral bells in the still of the night.

    It’s an odd whisper, too. Almost breathy and punctuated by “siss” after “siss”. That’s the give away that it’s a prayer. The whisper itself speaks. Not every word is clear and catchable. But it’s not hard to swallow the gist. And then you get the the give-away cue.

    “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum …”

    Then you know she’s half way around the world as well. Oh, you can hear her voice … somewhat. And even see the night light through the crack of the door. But she’s not really there.

    I heard that silent racket every night. For years. Ever since my Marine-brother moved to the coast, then Hawaii … each a step to Vietnam. A fourteen thousand mile step from Gramercy Place. All the brothers were sort of awed by the sheer distance. But my Mother never seemed troubled by the distance at all. She was troubled by the powerlessness. There was nothing in her past to show her how to intervene, how to help her son, how to soothe the moment or battle the fear. There wasn’t any parental trick in her sack for this type of stuff. So she did what she knew how to do. She prayed.

    “Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.”

    At thirteen, with a little luck, you finally (sorta) get past yourself. And a sleepy trek down the upstair’s hallway at 2 a.m. … surrounded by loud whispers … will get you all the way past yourself. Because now you’re eavesdropping on something sacred. The type of whisper tells you that. It’s part prayer and part plea. You can only make out pieces of words here and there. But you understand it all perfectly. You don’t need any help like you do with Shakespeare. There’s no riddle to unravel. There’s no real secret at all. You hear some words and you know the message. You know who she’s really talking to … and you feel she’s being listened to.

    “Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,”

    And there you stand. In the dark. In the hallway. Nothing to see and almost … almost … nothing to hear. But it all seems so volumed-up because the silence is so loud. And you know the next prayer-line. And the one word in that prayer-line that has to be a rugged whisper for that lady. The one word and the one phrase she doesn’t want to say, but has no choice. Not if it’s to be a successful plea.

    “nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.”

    “Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” That’s the phrase that brings a pause. Until it all begins again. Over and over and over. Part mantra. Part plea. But all pain.

    And for years that was the night noise at Gramercy Place. I know others heard it as well. It happened every night. There were too many other sons there. But not a one has ever mentioned it … even almost fifty years later. It was a moment we were all privy to. And not a part of. And not offended at all. Because we all understood, in our own way, that this had nothing to do with us. Or war. Or miles. This had to do with a mother and a son. And a mother willing her son home. To her. Alive. So, once again.

    “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum …”

    Denis Ian

    Taxpayer1234 | May 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    My mom was a feminist. She went back to work full-time in 1966. I think she was the only working mom in a 10-mile radius. She worked her way up from city hall secretary into a high-profile job with the city redevelopment office. There she scrupulously oversaw multi-million-dollar projects. When the local Mafia told her to rig the sealed bidding, she told them to go to hell. So they pulled strings with their cronies in the city government; she was fired, a puppet put in her place.

    The day she was fired was the same day her divorce was finalized. So she was pretty much on her own with two pre-teen daughters and a still-married boyfriend.

    Needless to say, my young life was a freakin’ soap opera. For her many faults, however, she had a quiet strength and determination that I have always admired. Though I doubted her priorities at times, her love for me was never in doubt.

      Anne Sorock in reply to Taxpayer1234. | May 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      What an amazing story of standing up for her principles. That is an amazing example, and I am glad to know it.

        Taxpayer1234 in reply to Anne Sorock. | May 13, 2012 at 10:35 pm

        Thanks. She’s a complicated woman who has alternately made me nuts and made me proud.

        Taxpayer1234 in reply to Anne Sorock. | May 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm

        Oh, yeah, forgot to mention–years later, she got to see karma visit the puppet and his string-masters. In court. The case didn’t have anything to do with her firing, but everything to do with their overall idiocy. She tells me when she needs a laugh, she pulls out the trial transcript.

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