My daughter called me the other day and said, “I feel like all I do all day is clean up poop.”
She was the mother of a four week old newborn who had just exploded with so much gusto it shot up his back, through his arm holes and out through his pants. Her toddler had just made a deposit on the floor next to the potty chair then stepped in it and tracked it around the house. Her preschooler was still resisting toilet training yet refused to wear training pants or diapers.
Before the children came, this same daughter had penned a literary quality novel about deep philosophical issues. Recently she sent an e-mail to me that read, “Once there was a mother with three children in diapers. She went crazy. The end.” Though it appeared her individual identity and purpose had been lost – in reality her individual identity and purpose had been found.
I recently walked through Washington D C and noticed almost every honorary statue depicted a man who led an army or held high political office. Some of their names were familiar but surprisingly most were not. The vast majority of battlefield victories had faded from our nation’s collective memory and most the famous leaders of the past are largely unknown today.
I longed to see a statue for all the invisible women who had conceived the great ideas that gave birth to this nation. I believe the greatest seat of power is in a mother’s lap. Great ideas and philosophies begin as desires in a noble woman’s heart. Those desires grow into thoughts and those thoughts grow into ideas. Eventually those ideas grow into words. Words are powerful – they give structure, form and permanence to dreams. The words that most affect us are those we learned at our mother’s knee.
While in Washington, I gazed up at the Lincoln and Jefferson monuments and walked past the White house. I viewed the courtroom in the Supreme Court building with nine empty chairs. I thought about power – the kind that lasts. I have come to believe that all great strides in knowledge, wisdom and positive social reform were once whispers of hope in a woman’s heart. Mothers have the opportunity to plant tiny seeds of ideas and possibilities in their children’s minds. If the seeds are good, when their children grow up, they became the givers not the takers of the world. The hand that rocks the cradle really does rule the world.
We now have women who lead the highest institutions of government and commerce in the land. Does that make them great or simply more visible? It is not our position in society that makes us great – but our goodness, the strength of our character and our willingness to sacrifice for the well-being of others. We need good men and women to lead our nation and corporations but we need more who lead our children. What happens in our house matters more than what happens in the House of Representatives. For a nation conceived in liberty cannot remain powerful if it does not remain good. A nation will not remain good unless the children are nurtured in love. So I thought for a moment before I answered my daughter.
“Some days it feels like that,” I said, “but you are doing so much more. Try to imagine your little ones as the great men and women they will be some day. The way you treat your children today will be the way they treat the world tomorrow.”