A Mother’s Greatest Enemy

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Those who suffer the fallout of “the mommy wars” will be relieved to hear that their suspicions have been confirmed. There are forces at work in this world that are hell-bent against them. But this devilish letter, intercepted by the Ministry of the Defense Against the Dark Forces, reveals that their strategy is coming unhinged.


My Dear Wormwood,

Forgive my hasty scribbles, but what I have to say is urgent. I’ve been following the dispatches from the front lines, and I want to give you the benefit of the doubt on this. But it seems to me that you have forgotten our concealment policy.

Don’t get me wrong . . . I do not question the strategy we’ve been employing against our Patients since the Garden. It’s your hot-headed zeal that worries me. All of the virtual ink spilt over the Mommy Wars has a troubling trend, and I fear that all of our hard work may soon be fully exposed. The pundits are bemoaning the idol — calling it names and despising it. Have you heard this? The Patients are fed up. They are growing in boldness in their acceptance of one another’s freedoms — choosing to give each other icky things like support and compassion.

By way of reminder, let me refresh your memory of our fiendish plan. It’s simple, really. We work to reinforce the idol so the Patients reflect its attributes and not the Enemy’s. The idol of perfect motherhood is starving, so its admirers are starving. Falling short. Not enough. Not measuring up. They fear failure. Though together, they feel outnumbered. Such genius! But I fear you may have allowed your zeal to blind you. They’re starting to question the system. If they lose their cherished autonomy then we’re sunk. The Patients doubt the validity of the consumerism-driven, competitive narrative of motherhood. Some Patients have said that this role is too demanding, and the script we’ve written is actually a nightmare. You’re trying too hard, Wormwood.

Just keep the idol’s veneer looking beautiful, happy, and healthy. The pleasures of motherhood belong to the Enemy because he made them. But like every other thing he made, we can twist these good pleasures. Mothering is good — all-consuming mothering is better. Taking responsibility for managing the home is good — glorifying domesticity is better. Perfectionism is starving, so its worshipers will never be satisfied. You get the idea. Consuming the image of ideal motherhood, they are consumed. They will become what they worship.

I’m appalled by your carelessness, Wormwood. They’re on to the Ponzi scheme! The idol offers them a dose of peace and a taste of the enough-ness they seek, and pays them out at the expense of other moms who offer up the same sacrifices to the same idol. But now . . . I’ve seen evidence that they have come to firmly believe that this is wrong. I’m ordering you to do damage control immediately. When our Patients protest like this we must put the idol back within reach . . . let them have tastes of the “enough” they need.

We want the Patients to be preoccupied with the prize — basking in the glory of maternal perfection. We don’t want them to notice the glory of the Enemy’s perfection, much less give him the least adoration. (Such gazing will transform them to look more like him. Blech.) Don’t let them entertain the thought for even a minute that our coworkers have already been plundered by the Enemy. We wouldn’t want thoughts of him to have an expulsive effect in our Patients’ hearts.

The Enemy is the architect of the metanarrative that eats all of our narratives for lunch. Don’t be a fool. The Enemy has stamped his image on all of these hapless creatures (including the tiniest ones who are yet unborn — the nerve!). He will succeed in filling the earth with his spiritual offspring. He redeemed the cursed thorns and wore them as a crown, of all things. He even had the audacity to redeem and explode through the Patients’ cursed procreative pain, writhing on a tree and loosing the pangs of death three days later [Acts 2:24]. It makes me nauseous to think of that weekend. If you obscure The Story then you’ll have no problems preventing them from renewing their minds with that rubbage.

So, double up on your efforts to convince the Patients who insist on persevering in motherhood that they are taking the long view when they merely nurture the next generation. If they catch wind of the true long view of the new creation in which they will rule and bear the image of heaven [1 Corinthians 15:49; 1 John 3:2] . . . I shudder at the thought. If that happens the best-case scenario is that they will write it off as something intangible, lofty, and “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.” Worst-case scenario: They will realize that they are truly free to make reckless, joyful sacrifices in the Enemy’s name for the good of others. That kind of poison spreads quickly, as we have seen in our research.

We’re not fools, Wormwood. We don’t deny that the Day is coming. That much is assured by the grave that failed to keep the Enemy. Though the Daughters of Sarah may be affected at times by the idolatrous liaisons we arrange, and at such times will not be as reflective of the Enemy’s glory, they will ultimately be increasingly marked by a growing loyalty to his despicable plan to use them to do his bidding until the Day when they will be consummately made to reflect his image. They’re not ours; they’re his. But oh! The thrill of duping so many Daughters of Sarah into forgetting the Day!

Motherhood is a mercy from the Enemy, but if you can encourage them to feel like professionals who work for a payoff from the world then it’s easier to reinforce their innate entitlement. Keep the images streaming in order to secure their adoration. Don’t forget the formula: an ever-increasing craving for an ever-diminishing pleasure. Get a woman’s soul and give her nothing in return — that’s what really gladdens Our Father’s heart.

You’ve been at this for a long time, and I appreciate your perseverance. But too much direction in this from you will tip off the Daughters of Sarah, who are difficult to frighten. The Bride is heavily guarded. For badness sake, don’t make these same mistakes again. This is wishful thinking, I know, but we must keep trying to drown out the Enemy’s cry on the cross [John 19:30]. I dare not even mention the words he uttered lest this message come into the wrong hands.

Keep our correspondence confidential, Wormwood, and our Patients will remain none the wiser.

I am, your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape


When she’s not intercepting devilish letters, Gloria Furman is a writer and one of our featured contributors to our recent book, which addresses the heart of the so-called mommy wars: *Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope. Download it free of charge today.*