A pleasant spring day stroll through Wichita’s picturesque Riverside Park took us past the spaceship, and once again we were reminded of Mom.
It’s not an actual spaceship, just an antique piece of playground equipment that vaguely resembles a sci-fi B-movie version of one, but it’s real enough that a childhood imagination would take flight in it whenever Mom hauled the kids to the park on a summer afternoon. There were no children scampering up the series of ladders to the cockpit during our recent visit, a consequence of some do-gooder group’s noisy insistence that the entrance be bolted shut lest some unattended urchin injure himself on the steel artifice, and the spaceship seemed lonesome without them. We also felt badly for the children, even though they seemed happy enough playing on some up-to-date plastic-and-wood thingamajigs that looked every bit as dangerous as the spaceship, and not just because they were being denied our fondly-remembered exhilaration on an imaginary tip to the moon. Sadder yet was the realization of a societal assumption that these children didn’t have an eagle-eyed mother hovering nearby to keep them from harm.
No noisy do-gooder groups were needed to get us through childhood. Although we suffered from the usual boyish lack of risk-assessment abilities, ever-vigilant Mom had an uncanny knack for plucking us out of danger’s way at the last possible moment. It could be quite annoying, of course, but in retrospect we can see that she also allowed us a glorious degree of freedom that must have been quite nerve-wracking for the poor woman. Mom would become frighteningly ferocious when her children were threatened, a marked contrast to the ladylike demeanor she exhibited in most other circumstances, and she was no less protective when confronted with well-meaning busybodies who would have placed limits on our sense of possibilities.
Pardon us if a sentimental Mothers’ Day tribute turns into yet another political rant, but there are all manner of collectivist noisy do-gooder nonsense that would be entirely unneeded if everyone had a mother like ours. Countless children could have been spared the wasted time of Head Start programs if they’d had such a mother as ours, who sent who all her children off to Kindergarten knowing the alphabet, being able to count well past 10, having memorized the family phone number, and possessing a vocabulary that already included the word “precocious.” The one-size-fits-all nutritional standards that have lately been imposed on the schools would be unnecessary, as Mom provided healthy meals that fit each of her differently-sized children with a precision no remote bureaucracy could hope to duplicate. Mom saw to it that her children were clothed, cleaned, sheltered, and cared for, and any intrusive social worker dumb enough to think he could do any better would have been in for a hell of a time.
Spend all the trillions you can tax, print, or borrow, but you’ll never fund a program that is an adequate substitute for Mom. Fashionable opinion is fond of an old African adage that “It takes a village to raise a child,” and Hillary Clinton even used it for a book title, but it is the sort of balderdash that has kept Africa poor and backward. In truth it takes a mother to a raise a child, and preferably a good one such as ours. Fathers are important, too, and given current policies their importance might require more prominence, but we’ll return to that theme in June. This weekend should be devoted to wishing a most happy Mothers’ Day to Mom, and to all the other mothers who have done the job well.
– Bud Norman