When my middle daughter (whom we affectionately call “Mother Earth” because she’s always carrying on about recycling, saving the planet, and endangered species) was about five, she came home from school—full of righteous indignation because she had learned that mother sea turtles swim ashore, lay their eggs, and then leave the eggs untended.
“How could they?!” she exclaimed.
Secretly jealous of said sea turtles, I mumbled something about how I guessed turtle families work differently than ours. She quickly said:
“Mom, you wouldn’t want to be a mother sea turtle, would you??”
I told her that of course I wouldn’t. What self-respecting mom would own up to any other response? A few years later, she told me that she was glad that God arranged for us to come to earth and be in people families instead of being like sea turtles who get abandoned before they’re born.
I’m glad for that too, although, being a mother has been pretty hard for me. I have great kids, but I struggle to enjoy parenthood. So, since I’ve spent so much time fretting over the importance of family, wishing to never hear one more word about my “divine role” as a woman, preparing for a fulfilling career (and currently enjoying the fruits of my labors), and trying to up-end stereotypical gender roles with my children, I somehow ended up volunteering to head up the section of this blog that will focus on family and gender.
Knit Together will feature a new post every Wednesday–written by me or (hopefully) some of you–about family, gender, parenthood, relationships, etc. I hope we can talk frankly here about the possibilities and limitations of families. I hope to hear from or about families who have interesting traditions, unique divisions of labor, unusual family dynamics, and fun dinnertime and carpool conversations with inquisitive kids. I would love to talk about how parents navigate tough topics like sexuality and spirituality. I want to think of “family” in the most expansive way possible—not just the husband + wife + 2.2 kids = eternal bliss kind of families (although I confess to having a husband and three kids).
The older I get, the less confident I am that I know anything. It seems like there’s always more to every situation than meets the eye. Take those negligent sea turtle moms, for instance. I have since learned that while it’s easy for a sea turtle to swim, she has to work really hard to drag herself up to shore to lay her eggs. After reaching land, she looks for a spot that will be safe during high tide. Then she uses her back feet to dig a big hole into which she lays as many as 100 eggs. 100 eggs! Then she covers them with sand and heads back out to sea. Now, that doesn’t sound like negligence to me. That sounds like the kind of parenting I could aspire to.
Here’s to what I hope will be some great conversations about families, gender, and parenting.