A Screwtape Letter to a 2020 Mom

My dear Wormwood,

I’m delighted to hear how well it’s going with your subject- this young mother of yours.

Although, I must admit, you mentioned something in your last letter that I believe demands more of your attention. You mentioned she joined a tennis group? This may seem like a little thing, but it very well may be a doorway into her prioritizing her own needs, which we cannot permit.

The good news is, the motherhood department here has been working tirelessly for decades building a cage for mothers- a cage made of their own guilt. Guilt will be the name of the game, a tool you must never stop utilizing on your subject. I believe it will be easy enough to guilt her into quitting her tennis club.

(You seem to be on the right track on the guilt front already, I got a good chuckle when you mentioned that you even got your subject to feel guilt over listening to music instead of a spiritual talk while she cleaned her house. Hilarious!)

Your subject’s religiosity will play nicely into our goals with guilt. What you want to do (and this should be quite easy) is every single time she gets an idea to do something for someone else- her kids, her husband, her neighbor, the PTA, anyone- make her think that idea comes directly from God every time. Then, she will start to feel immense guilt every time she fails to seize the opportunity, which will be plentiful. And here’s the real key- you must then make her think that her guilt and shame comes from God too. You know as well as I that that side is incapable of producing shame, but the religious are very confused about this. This confusion has been playing into our hands for centuries. (curse that Brene Brown woman for her counter-shame movement!)

Then whenever your subject gets an idea to do something for herself- take a bath, read a book, go out to lunch with friends, join a tennis group, anything she would enjoy just for herself – make her think this is selfish and does not come from God. While these ideas do not come from our side, as you know, make her think they do. Have her put everyone else’s schedules, needs and desires before her own. When she is tempted to ask for something she wants, gently whisper in her ear the word “selfish.” Even if it is just for 30 minutes a day! Always make her think it is selfish.

We’ve been working for decades disguising the cage of relentless selflessness for women as moral truth- relying heavily on the idea that a woman’s entire purpose and identity is to be a wife and mother. And while these roles do produce genuine love, affection and fulfillment, we twist it so its so wildly off balance that once she becomes a mother, she disappears. Poof. Just like that, she’s no longer a person. She is just a pair of hands. Just a shoulder to cry on. Just a listening ear. Just a maid, a chef, a chauffeur, a servant to do the bidding of everyone around her.

When I brought this up before, you assumed that surely she would just ask her husband, friends or family for help. As surely you’ve noticed, we’ve been quite skillful in spreading the idea that moms SHOULD be able to do EVERYTHING without help. A few decades ago, things were a little easier for moms. They sent their kids out to play all day guilt-free, they didn’t take as much personal responsibility for their kids’ constant success, they didn’t feel the need to prevent every failure and sadness, and worst of all, they often formed tight-knit communities of support and assistance. We were negligent I admit, but now? Well, now, I’m quite proud of our team’s efforts in the cages we’ve built for moms. She must do everything, be everything for her kids, never let them fail, never let them be upset or sad or disappointed AND she must never ask for help. The community department’s work ensuring lack of community and neighborhood cohesion have been working tremendously in our favor I must admit.

Heck, moms these days won’t even let their kids watch TV anymore without guilt! We’ve got them so convinced that putting their children in front of television and video games means they are failing as mothers, that they feel bucket loads of guilt for screen time even while they cook or clean. Even though their own studies are showing that moms are devoting more time to their children than they ever have in history, STILL moms think they should be spending all day with them with no breaks or help at all. I must admit, we get quite a kick out of this. We’ve got it so that even when a mom takes a fun vacation without her children, instead of relaxing and enjoying herself, she feels so guilty for not being with her kids that she won’t even enjoy the trip!

And if she ever does get it in her head that maybe she deserves a little more fun or help, always point her in the direction of someone who needs MORE help or MORE fun than she does. She’ll think, “Well, at least I’m not like so-and-so.” Comparison always plays to our favor- whether she finds herself superior or inferior- we work with both.

I mentioned in my last letter that in my experience, the two most powerful tools to use on women are the titles of “selfish” and “fat.” You asked what “fat” has to do with anything. And the answer is …… Nothing! Absolutely nothing my dear wormwood! But we’ve essentially got this so locked down for women, we’ve got them fearing weight-gain so much, that there is no need to do virtually any work on this front. Society basically ensures that she will be so afraid of becoming fat, so full of shame when she gains even 10 pounds, that we’ve kept women locked in shame around their bodies for centuries. It keeps them from making friends, from joining hobby groups, from starting businesses, from having sex, from believing in themselves. Basically, it works on auto-pilot now. You’re welcome. Ha ha ha ha, just think of what women could do and become if they stopped spending such copious amounts of time and energy fixating on improving the appearance of their bodies! They’d have taken over the world by now. Oh, its such fun to watch Wormwood!

Always keep the big picture in mind, our goal is to keep her locked in insecurity by never letting her know her own self-worth. Make sure you tie her sense of self-worth to her children’s happiness and success everyday. Tie it to her to-do list as well. Make her think she is worthless unless she is productive, unless her house is clean and modern, unless her clothes are fashionable, unless her body looks like as it when she was 16 years old, unless her children are making top grades, have lots of friends, never fight with their siblings, always do just what they are asked when they are asked, and eat kale. And if she is ever tempted to ask for help, remind her that she is worthless unless she does all of this herself. Whenever she fails to accomplish any of those things, remind her that all of her friends can do them all effortlessly so there so something wrong with her and she should hide herself.

Above all, never, ever let her know of her innate, unconditional worth. Never, ever let her start listening to her inner wisdom. Always have her search outside of herself for her worth and for her answers.

I must go now Wormwood, but next letter, I will answer your questions about her relationship with her husband- there are so many misunderstandings working in our favor on that front!

Affectionately yours,
Screwtape

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