In Defense of Mothers of Big Families: #postcardsforMacron
Did President Macron just call my mother, my grandmother, my friends, and mothers of all races, nations and religions... stupid?
"I always say: 'Please present me the lady who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight, nine children.’" - French President Emmanuel Macron
It was elegantly cloaked. But yes, yes he did.
He implied there was something wrong with mothers of large families, their decision-making ability, their education, and their large family. Yikes.
Here’s some (more) education for President Macron:
Dear President Macron,
You are clearly a well-educated and titled man.
Still, you have some obvious gaps in your understanding of mothers and their unique form of genius.
Your comment on the lacking education level of mothers of large families was an insult to women in your country, and around the world.
To your credit, I’ll assume your comment was made out of ignorance, or lack of experience. Please let me educate you—more perfectly—on the level or respect due to these highly intelligent women.
First off, you should be aware that your own country has a long history of honoring mothers of large families.
As the French president, you’ll want to be familiar with the Médaille de la Famille française. France has an almost 100-year history of awarding this Medal of the French Family—bronze, silver or gold—to mothers of large families. The gold medals go to mothers of 8 or more children.
Clearly, your country knows something you don't about these women.
Your country, and any person of common sense and reasonable life experience, can attest that there are (at least) two types of intelligence: one that’s evidenced by the pursuit of data, degrees and titles, and another kind—the kind of intelligence necessary to foster meaningful human relationships, evidenced by the actions of serving hands and a lasting imprint on hearts.
This kind of intelligence is known as emotional intelligence, and the mothers of large families are the accomplished masters of it. They’ve got post-doctorate-level understanding and experience in (at least) the areas of human biology, sociology, household economics, child and adolescent psychology, counseling, operations management, cognitive development, organizational leadership, mass communications, and more.
How's that for "perfectly educated?"
President Macron, what your country (and millions of other people) know—that you might not—is that large-family motherhood is a calling. Just like being a doctor, a writer, or president.
Each mother of a large family is an undecorated leader of the small domestic society that is her family. The demands of this role require emotional intelligence and a rare form of genius—the feminine genius, which does not require any particular level of education. The education level of mothers of large families is completely irrelevant and not worthy of comment—or judgement.
And the women you insulted—the strong, selfless, intelligent mothers of large families—are not competing with you (or anyone) for a certain level of education. They may or may not have impressive educations and prestigious paper degrees (many of them do, so at the very least, it’s not fair to stereotype).
Now, I realize you—and all of us—are more accustomed to being informed by means of generic assumptions based off faceless statistics. But a framed set of data doesn’t tell the full story, the personal story.
President Macron, if you're looking at factual data to understand or assess women and their families, you're missing the point. Entirely.
Even if, or when, that data implies an interesting, even seemingly causal, data relationship.
Decisions around motherhood and families are about human relationships, not data relationships. This is about people, not stats.
President Macron, you need to do some real-person research. Go ask mothers of large families why they had big families, if they felt their families were the result of not being "perfectly educated." Go ask the mothers of large families which child they regret, which child they'd give back—in lieu of more education?
Preferably before publicly bashing them.
I'm guessing these mothers don't regret their sacrifices—or the living, breathing humans they helped form and raise. I bet none of these gifted women would cash in any of their kids for a(nother) degree or title. It'd give these women more pleasure to watch their toddlers shriek with joy as they explore how to crumple and shred that fancy piece of paper.
And I bet it's not just these mothers who appreciate the product of their labor.
I bet there's a lot of people who are glad someone brought the Stephen Colberts (youngest of 11), Celine Dions (youngest of 14), and Chris Rocks (second of 8) into the world. Not to mention the current Dalai Lama (one of 16).
Personally, I'm grateful for my dad (fifth of 8) and all my aunts and uncles. Not to mention my own 6 siblings, including my youngest brother (who has Down's Syndrome and autism). And the precious, happy children of my friends. I am forever grateful to my mother, and grandmother, and my friends, for giving the world more beautiful people.
It's worth noting that none of these women are even borderline "stupid."
President Macron, if you'd only take the time to get to know some of these mothers of large families, you'd see the undeniable intelligence of women who chose, over and over, the chaotic, happy blessing of the most unglamorous, thankless, and essential role on earth: the role of loving into existence as many other precious humans as they can, under the perfectly educated title of Mother.