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The Socially Unproductive Work of Mothers
Karl Marx’s sidekick, Fredrick Engels, said that in order for humanity to achieve worldwide prosperity, women must be freed from the care of their own children so that they can engage in “socially productive work.” This statement assumes and asserts that caring for children is not socially productive work.
For a full explanation of how the work of raising children by mothers and fathers is the most socially productive work that can be done, please read my book (especially chapters 3 and 23.) But today, I’ll share a short glimpse from my life that strikes on this point. This is from a summer day during the time when I had four small daughters ages three to eight.
August 17, 2007
“Today I hurt my neck somersaulting through a hula hoop with my girls.
I also got my jeans wet in the pool at the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls with my girls.
I also ate cinnamon rolls and grapes for lunch with my girls.
I also played prince and princess in the kitchen with Brooke. I, of course, had to be the prince and she insisted I “talk like a prince” and employ an awful English accent.
Allison read the scriptures out loud to us while we lotioned each other’s feet.
I made homemade alfredo sauce without a recipe for dinner for the family, and I wrote in my journal before I went to bed. I’d say this has been a highly productive, marvelous day.”
Was this a socially productive day?
Perhaps without such days, there is no foundation upon which to build the rest of life.
Perhaps social productivity—in its primal form—has little to do with nickels and dimes, and everything to do with moments and memories. While mothers can excel at producing both money and moments, perhaps it’s the moments that matter most. Perhaps it’s largely the work of mothers within their families that produces a capable, motivated, purposeful workforce. Stable, capable people tend to be grounded in the unshaken—often subconscious—belief that their mothers love them. In other words, they know that they matter profoundly to at least someone.
As we watch the world awash with anxious, confused, depressed, fragile, angry people, maybe all of that has at least something to do with a lack of children experiencing socially productive days in the parks and canyons and kitchens of the world with their socially productive mothers.
There can be no socially productive work performed without capable people to perform it, and there are no capable people without mothers.
Me and my mom on a socially productive outing.