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Ah, Mother’s Day. The most sentimental and mushy day of the year, the day when mothers everywhere are smothered in a suffocating layer of syrup and treacle and praise … whether they deserve it or not.
This column is NOT geared toward women who are already mothers, but toward women who haven’t yet embarked on the maternal journey. Mother’s Day, in fact, begins long before a child (natural or adopted) is laid in a woman’s arms. In some respects motherhood is of secondary importance when compared to what comes first. I refer, of course, to whom the mother chooses to father her child. There are few decisions in life that will have a greater impact on her children.
Rather than offering all mothers unconditional vacant kudos and congratulations for having kids, I would instead question one of two things: One, how well did you choose the man to father those kids? And two, if you made a mistake, what are you doing to rectify it? Before you can accept the honors for being a mother, you also need to accept the responsibility.
In his “Fruits of Solitude,” William Penn (1644-1718) wrote, “Men are generally more careful of the breed of their horses and dogs than of their children.” He also said, “We are too careless of Posterity; not considering that as they are, so the next Generation will be.”
He’s right. Arguably the single most important decision women make is whom they choose to father their children… and too many women use the stupidest of criteria.
I actually knew a woman, a childhood friend who went astray, who married a convicted double-murderer. I’m not kidding. My mom sent me the newspaper clipping of her wedding: “The bride wore a floral print dress in pastel shades of green and pink; the groom wore an orange prison jumpsuit.” WHY? What kind of “father” was she providing for her four already illegitimate children?
I’ll grant there are sad situations in which a spouse has a complete and total personality change after marriage (due to mental or physical illness or other factors beyond their control); but in the vast majority of cases, women who choose poorly preferred to ignore huge red flags.
The first mistake too many women make is having babies before getting married. Statistics have shown over and over and over that such a decision is almost guaranteed to plunge a woman and her children into lifelong poverty.
But when a woman does get married, often she doesn’t look at the reality of what life will be like beyond the altar. This is, presumably, the man you want to see across the breakfast table for the next 50 years. So why didn’t you chose someone with compatible views on family, children, religion, money, life goals and other critical factors?
And, assuming you’ve been fortunate enough to make vows with a man compatible in all those areas, why would you complicate your relationship with this treasured person by being difficult to live with? Why are you nagging or critical or cold or otherwise driving a wedge between you and him?
See my point? Mother’s Day begins long before a woman becomes a mother. Mother’s Day begins on the very day your eyes meet those of a handsome stranger across a crowded room. It will either be the start of a beautiful journey, or a disastrous one. The choice is yours.
Back in the days when making babies had graver societal repercussions, a (decent) woman would never risk pregnancy outside of marriage because it would leave her without any support structure, except (if they were feeling charitable) her parents. The blessings of shame forced women to control their animal urges and – listen carefully, for this is what’s lacking today – through their actions and behaviors and expectations, women controlled the behavior of men. Yes, it’s true: Men will only rise to the level women expect. If women’s expectations are in the gutter, guess where men will be found?
And when a woman did want to get married, society and her parents were careful to “vet” the man in question concerning his vices, employment prospects, work ethic – in short, his potential to provide for his family and raise his children, thus producing another generation of mature and responsible citizens.
But today, women pay far more attention to their education, their careers, even their cars (modern-day “dogs and horses”) than they do to the person with whom they have kids.
There’s a marital psychologist named John Gottman who, through decades of analyzing thousands of couples, has developed a method to gauge which couples will stay married, and which will break up. He is able to make this determination with an astonishing 91 percent accuracy rate after listening to couples argue for only five minutes. (Maybe Dr. Gottman should start a dating service.)
It’s normal for people to be blind to each others’ faults in the initial giddy weeks of a relationship, but ladies, there comes a time when you’ve GOT to take those blinders off and see a man for what he truly is before you say “I do” or, even more significantly, before you share your bed. You owe it to your children, future or otherwise.
The importance of choosing (and marrying) a good man to father your babies is clear. A strong, loving, involved father is by far the greatest gift you can give your sons and daughters. He will balance the male/female equation and bring stability and guidance to the lives of his children. He will give them confidence, self-control, self-worth and a sense of honor. And, not incidentally, he will give them the ability to choose their future spouse with clear, logical, rational vision.
Look, nobody’s perfect in life, and the man you might be thinking about marrying will never walk on water (nor will you). But if he’s waving huge red flags in your face –flirting with other women, having affairs, drinking himself into a stupor, or being demanding, jealous, possessive, or abusive – don’t you think you’d better wise up before you become a mother? Or before you bring yet another potentially dangerous man into your children’s lives?
A well-chosen marriage partner is the most awesome blessing we can receive here on earth. A huge number of societal problems we are currently experiencing would cease to exist if only women would think before making babies. As John Wayne so memorably put it, “Life is hard. It’s even harder when you’re stupid.”
Don’t be stupid. Marry right. THEN become a mother. Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day.