Mama says we have to defend for ourselves

When the boys were old enough to begin to make any resemblance of a meal, (i.e. PB& J, grilled cheese, frozen pizza, a bowl of cereal) I would often say to their question of what’s for lunch/dinner? “Fend for yourself”. This was a phrase I learned from my boundary setting mother! I am very pleased that I picked up on this phrase and that she has modeled that for me in my young adult years. It has saved me from going over the edge and hitting rock bottom exhaustion!! Much to their dismay they would reluctantly prepare their own meals. My youngest child called it “defending for yourself” and would frequently complain to his dad “Mama is making us defend for ourselves”. Of course, we would laugh as he truly thought this was what I was asking of him. The definition of fend is to look after and provide for oneself, without any help from others. On the other hand, defend means protect from harm or danger. It is important to us that our sons can indeed fend for themselves. And while I laugh about my child seeing preparing a simple meal as defending for himself, I can’t help but think about all the children who truly fend for themselves because there is no other choice in feeding their hungry stomachs and souls. Their reality becomes defending themselves. This stark contrast moves me to question how we operate as communities. Specifically, how can our communities create spaces that nurture skills of independence, self-efficacy, and a strong work ethos that equates the connecting of our spirits and souls in the mundane preparations for life? Communities that instill in my boys the importance of working towards the difference of fending for themselves and defending the children and families who are truly in need. That preparing a meal because you can, and you have the resources gives you independence and sustenance to go and defend those that do not. It is in the mundane, the manual labor, hard, and inconvenient, spiritual lessons that can and do manifest.  These are the lessons I want for my boys. These are the lessons I want for all.

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