In one of my favorite films, “The Two Towers”, we’re introduced to a brave maiden warrior from the kingdom of Rohan, Eowyn. Her striking beauty and fierce determination is compared to the cold of “ a morning in pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood”. Eowyn wants much more than her provincial life and is convinced that saddling a horse and drawing a sword will provide that.
Eowyn is oh-so-relatable
Sadly, she lives in a time and age where the men were sent to fight (and die) and women were left to mind the house – cue sad faces.
Her angst peaks when her countrymen (and boys – and elderly) are preparing for a very uneven battle against 10,000 chemically engineered Urk-hai, whose sole purpose is “to destroy the world of men.” (Uuuum, could they be any more misogynistic?)
She rushes to the future king and first love of my life – Lord Aragorn.
“Aragorn! I’m to be sent with the women into the caves!”
He tenderly responds,
“That is an honorable charge.”
Mmmm…not so much.
“To mind the children?!” she claps back, “to find food and bedding when the men return. What renown is there in that?”
After a bit more dialogue the scene ends with her storming off in an adolescent-fashioned fit, partially because of her feelings for Sir Sexy Hair.
Don’t get me wrong, her character was fantastic to the story. Her arc of sneaking into battle with her compatriots and new little best friend climaxed with an exhilarating fight against the most impossible of foes, a Witch-King of Angmarnazgul. When Eowyn injures him, the Witch-King arrogantly declares, “No man can defeat me.”
She throws her helmet to the ground and delivers the unforgettable rebuttal, “I am no man!”
Love it! I was cheering to say the least.
This is immediately followed by the sob filled goodbye scene with her uncle; one my family has vowed to recreate for my father on his deathbed, we even have the fake horse. (You think I’m kidding.)
Now, 19-year-old AJ loved this character; I related to her grit, passion and aversion to all things girly. But 30-year-old AJ found her to be…irritating. Why, you ask. What is wrong with her following the desires of her heart? Why can’t she serve and fight alongside men doing what she is good at?
Women are hard-wired for care
The issue I have is twofold:
1) There is honor in those things, the very things she had such disdain for. King Dimple Chin was spot on when he said, “That is an honorable charge”. Keep in mind following this scene she was tasked to lead the weakest and most vulnerable into the caves, as an enormous, bloodthirsty army was marching their way to destroy them. That cave needed strong leaders; strong women to organize, comfort, calm and direct during horrific times. This is an honorable charge.
And staying “with the women” is important; women need each other. Science is discovering that women reap the health benefits from friendships with other women; lower blood pressure, lower rates of heart disease and longer life expectancies than men, to name a few.
“Women are much more social in the way they cope with stress”, says social neuroscientist and author, Shelley E. Taylor. Taylor conducted a study at UCLA and found that women have a more tend and befriend psychological response than the well-known fight or flight. We naturally look “to protect the self and offspring [to] promote safety and reduce distress; befriending is the creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in this process.”
Simply put; women are wired to care for and support one another, it’s what we do and we’re great at it.
If staying with the women is important, then “mind[ing] the children” is vital. New research from Washington University School of Medicine found that when preschool age children have loving and supportive mothers, they experience greater growth in the hippocampus (the part of the brain central to learning, memory and emotional regulation) than those with without.
Eowyn seems to think her talents, strength and courage are wasted if she is not allowed to fight. I disagree. I see these as traits in a most formidable protector of children and the home; the place where the most important work takes place. Imagine the amazing mother Eowyn would make!? Now just imagine if every child was raised by a mother like this, what a world we would have!
“To find food and bedding when the men return.” Now surely that is a kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck life that typifies patriarchal servitude…or is it?
Modern society tends to view stay-at-home moms as poor unfortunate souls whose life lacks fulfillment and happiness, but studies are finding otherwise. Economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers found that between 1970 and 2005 (when the number of working moms nearly doubled) female happiness had declined. They “discovered that American women rated their overall life satisfaction higher than men in the 1970s. Thereafter, women’s happiness scores decreased while men’s scores stayed roughly stable. By the 1990s, women were less happy than men.”
Finding joy in our vocation
When I was expecting my first child the question was always, “When will you be returning to work?” Not once was it assumed that I would leave my job to stay home with my baby. Once a co-worker (who was prone to unpleasantness) learned about my plans to be a stay-at-home-mom and sneered, “What are you gonna do, make your husband’s lunch?” I laughed and changed the subject, but if I could go back I would respond with a simple answer; yes. Yes I will make my husband’s lunch – and breakfast – and dinner. His job was extremely stressful and time consuming, if I could create a home where he could lay aside his burdens and relax with his family, that was important to me, because he is important to me. And in creating such a home through selfless service, I found joy.
2) My second issue comes with Eowyn’s next line, where she sums up exactly why she is so upset about the aforementioned tasks; “What renown is there in that?”
Meaning, where is the fame, the glory, the confetti-filled balloons complete with medals of honor? Why do we do – what we do? For recognition, renown.
Maybe. Or is it simply to make the world a better place. One motive is self-serving and juvenile, the other truly honorable.
After her sincere plea, Scruffy-Face Strider offers some words of wisdom;
“My lady, a time will come for valor without renown.”
Motherhood is the definition of “valor without renown”, but you know what else is? Almost every situation, of practically every human being, who has ever walked this earth. Most everything we do in life happens without acknowledgement, and that is OK. I’ve noticed when people seek renown and are so eager to prove themselves to others, no matter how dignified the task, they are masking insecurity; for he who knows his true worth has nothing to prove.
And finally, the Rustic Ranger from the North poses this question;
“Who then will your people look to in the last defense?”
Meaning, when the men have fought and died, the king is gone, you, the heir to the throne, is where your people will turn for rescue.
Mothers, we are the last defense. Our families, communities and society are struggling. The bedrock of our civilization is collapsing and we have a divine charge to protect it; protect our families and our homes in a way that only women can.
Indeed mothers are the last defense, because we are the first defense.
What can moms do?
What you can do now:
-Register to vote now and pay attention to local elections.
-Vote for candidates and propositions that reflect what is best for families.
-Run in your local election–don’t be intimidated! You have something to offer.
–Focus on the Family has a wealth of information on families and women.
–American Family Association also has great information, including a voting guide.
-The Relief Society is an educational and philanthropic organization for women in conjunction with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
–Moms for America is a movement created by, and benefiting mothers, including a voting guide.