A few months ago, when Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” was just being released, immediately following her infamous “Are Chinese Moms Superior” essay in the Wall Street Journal, I weighed in here at Strollerderby on the media frenzy around the “Tiger Mom” topic.
In my blog post about Tiger Moms, I suggested that ultimately, if the toughest, most challenging parenting task that a mother faces is to relentlessly push her healthy, privately educated kids to try harder at the high-dollar violin lessons to which said mom has driven them in her Volvo, well, that’s a mom who doesn’t know what it REALLY means to do whatever it takes on behalf of her kids. In fact, that’s an incredibly lucky, blessed mom who hasn’t ever really had to bare her Tiger Mom claws on behalf of her children’s well being.
But there ARE real Tiger Moms among us, and today, I’d like to introduce you to one of them. Her name is Taloni Stuart Lee, and she lives in my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. Ms. Lee is African-American, and she lives in a part of our small, southern city that too many residents still consider the “bad” part of town (I also live in a neighborhood that many would consider undesirable, very near Ms. Lee’s) Ms. Lee’s 17 year old son, a high school football star, was shot to death last August 10 while walking home from practice at his school. This beautiful, talented, beloved teenage boy only had to walk one or two blocks to catch the city bus that would take him the rest of the way home after practice, but somewhere in that short distance, he was accosted by a murderer who remains at large. An off-duty nurse saw him lying in an alley, near death, and stopped to render aid until an ambulance arrived. He died during surgery at the hospital.
Many months later, the murder of Ms. Lee’s son remains unsolved, and she is unconvinced that the investigation has been pursued as vigorously as it would have been if the same terrible crime had taken in, say, an upscale subdivision in a “nicer” part of the city. And so every single morning, Ms. Lee arrives outside the downtown Knoxville Police Department Headquarters, silently holding a sign in protest of the way her son’s murder has been handled. EVERY SINGLE DAY. When it’s cold, she’s there. When it’s wet, she’s there. And she has vowed to maintain this lonely vigil on behalf of her son for as long as necessary. And her efforts are not only on behalf of her own child, but also to advocate for all crime victims who happen to be residents of Knoxville’s “Eastside.”
So take a good look at Taloni Stuart Lee. Read what she has to say, because it’s important. She may never be asked to publish an essay in the Wall Street Journal, but THIS is what a real, honest to God Tiger Mom looks like. This is motherhood, personified.
I am in absolute awe of Taloni Stuart Lee. She inspires me to be a better person, a better mother and a better advocate for those in my own community who need some Tiger Mothering on their behalf.
READ MORE OF KATIE’S BLOGGING