From the conclusion:
In writing this book, I have made the assumption that its readers are inundated by mother culture. I have supposed that simply by being parents, they have been exposed to busy arguments, pro and con, about every aspect of child-rearing, and that they are lost in the dense, small-printed wasteland. In the course of writing MOTHERING HEIGHTS, however, I have met a few parents who could actually have used a parenting course (one was biting her child’s bottom to stop him from biting her shoulder, another was pleading with her four-year-old daughter to “stop torturing” her).
I have, also, met a few kids who needed to go to Gymboree (they lived in small apartments with their parents, dogs, and canaries). I have encountered parents who should have thought twice about having babies so closely spaced together (me). And I have met many who needed, and consulted with, a child psychologist. So let it not be said that an expert or two isn’t handy at times, or critical.
But surrender your mind to them? No.
Our children know this. They are there to teach us a thing or two about who they are as people. If we want to, we can see them, unblocked by mounds of paper, ink, and fancy plastic toys. They are the little stars that twinkle in the sky, the ones that illuminate the path for us travelers. How does that poem go?
Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark
He would not know which way to go
If you did not twinkle so.
If my children did not twinkle so, I am sure I would not have learned to be more patient, to hold my tongue, to be kinder, to let things be, I can wait for years (I’m going to have to) for a good vacation. Put it this way: I am in the process of reinterpreting what a good vacation is, what free time is, and how an adult regroups and grows.
Here is the paradox: What children take from us, they give. When we are not totally “free,” we learn how to cope with a smaller world, less time, less luxury (getting up late and staying up late used to be mine). We become people who feel more deeply, question more deeply, hurt more deeply, and love more deeply.
We are growing people here, young and old.
Sort of the thrill we wanted when, in the extremes of young fancy, we hoped that our lives would be rich, romantic and complex. We’ve got that now, at home. No chance to run, not need to flee. We’re inside now, and it’s all here: the depths, and the greatest heights.