Heartfelt wish for all the mothers in Iraq

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Imagine being an Iraqi mother living in Baghdad. That is what I kept thinking about as I watched images on television today.

People celebrated in the streets in some parts of the city, bringing down a huge statue of Saddam Hussein. While in other parts of Baghdad, gunfire still rang in the air.

I didn't see women among those surrounding the statue as it fell, but I did see a woman holding the hand of a young boy rushing down the street passing American tanks and soldiers. That got me thinking about what it must be like to be a mother in that country right now.

Surely if they know that freedom may become a reality, they are excited about the prospect. I certainly would be looking forward to a world where I could speak and live without fear.

Still, on this day that is probably something not yet real to many of the mothers in Iraq. What would I be doing if I were there? My first concern, I believe, would be my family and its safety.

Home would be where I'd stay until I knew it was indeed safe to venture out. After so many years without freedom, how could you begin to get your mind around the idea that the intense control of Saddam Hussein is really over.

These mothers are in the middle of a war zone. Hopefully, the fighting will be over soon, but it may be a long time before life is "normal" again for them.

How do they explain to their children what is happening in their world? What do they say to them about the future when they still don't know what it will bring?

Trying days lie ahead for our troops as they work to restore order to a country that has apparently lost of all traces of leadership. They will also be uncertain times for the mothers in Iraq.

Will there be food, water, electricity, the basics of life? What about medical care?

It is hard to imagine having those kinds of concerns, but those questions are surely in the minds of the people in Iraq. They must wonder what will happen to them next.

As troops were welcomed in Baghdad, I thought not only about the mothers seeing tanks roll past their houses, but also of the American mothers who were glued to the television hoping to perhaps see their children in one of the scenes being broadcast.

Whether the child is the young soldier helping to liberate a country or a frightened boy holding tightly to a hand as he rushes by the tanks, a mother's instinct is to protect her child. That is why it is so hard to be a mother in the midst of war.

As I watched the scenes from a world away, I was so grateful to be sitting in my living room with my child playing safely in the other room. What I hope for mothers in Baghdad today is that soon freedom is as much a part of their lives and the lives of their children as it is for those of us blessed to live in a nation where it is a way of life.