Warriors were once essential to the survival of a society. They were the protectors, the defenders of the group. As such, these individuals, mostly men, did not nothing but train for battles and do the fighting, with the goal of protecting the clan or tribe from outsiders. The warrior class sprang up all over the world, with entire mythologies created to support them, and tales of courage and honor and fidelity were told around a campfire to keep back the darkness on a cold night. Codes of behavior were created all over the world for this class, describing what was acceptable behavior for warriors at all times. Things like protection of the innocent, using a fork to eat instead of fingers, caring for the old, don't impregnate the King's daughter, keep your promise, don't take the money from the collection plate at church...were rules the warrior lived, or died, by. Warriors who followed or exceeded the Code were promoted, celebrated, and adored by all. Warriors who did not follow their code were considered dishonorable, and a shame to their families. Even today, soldiers who violate the tenets of the Code are considered dishonored, untrustworthy, and are not allowed to be soldiers anymore. It's that big a deal.
The definition of the word 'warrior' has changed as our world has changed. It used to refer to a person skilled in combat or battle, but now it can mean "a person who has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness" or someone who "is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict". (thank you, Free Dictionary!) There needs to be a new definition of Warrior, one that encompasses parenthood. We are all warriors, each and everyone of us.
Getting pregnant is not always easy, no matter what all those movies say. Staying pregnant, for some, is darn near impossible. Giving birth is sometimes a life and death situation. Adoption is one long, expensive paper trail that sometimes ends in heartbreak. To know all this, and still want to become a parent takes a vigor and courage that a lot of people just don't have. To know all this, and still want to become a parent, causes some of us to dig deep and find bravery that we never even knew we had.
After the child has arrived, parents find themselves engaged energetically, sometimes aggressively, in the very practice of parenting. Babies cry, babies spit up, babies need to be fed, babies cannot change their own diaper. Their entire existence depends on you, the guy or gal who regularly forgets where he or she has left their glasses/car keys/stroller. Everything that you do, from the moment you wake up until you lay yourself down to sleep, affects more than just yourself. Everything you even think about doing has to been examined with minute care to determine how it will affect the life of that child, because it is no longer all about YOU. Suddenly, you have a new Code, a new way of life, to follow. That is a mind blowing experience for some people, requiring more focus than they are willing to give, but most of us are up to the task. We are Warriors. We will do whatever we have to in order for our progeny to grow up happy and healthy. We will engage energetically in activities that our child is interested in. We will fight to get our child into a good school. If our child has special needs, we will practically kill to make sure that our child has all of the services they need to learn. We will protect our child with our last breath, if we have to. We've all seen news stories about mothers or fathers jumping into fistfights to protect their children. While it's certainly not admirable behavior, most of us completely understand the strong emotions that went into that bad decision-making.
Parenthood is often denigrated, ridiculed in many ways. That needs to stop, but it won't happen while we still look at the practice of parenting as something less than honorable. Something that we have to apologize for. Parents are as essential to the functioning of a great society as Warriors. Warriors don't apologize for following the Code that defines them as a group, and neither should we.
Today my son was dropped off at school cleaned, clothed, fed, and happy. Neither my husband nor I slept more than a couple of hours, because the boy coughed all night. We're both hopped on more caffeine than we should be, but it's a battle we have fought before. At some point I'll discover that my shirt is on inside out, or that I forgot to put eye makeup on one eye, but that's small potatoes. Into the fray I go.
Now get in there and win today's battle.
***this pep-talk was inspired by my friend Lizbeth over at Four Sea Stars. She curses like a sailor, and I imagine that she has a mean right hook, but she's the very image of a Warrior.