On Mothers and Mothering

“Many of us are living out the unlived lives of our mothers, because they were unable to become the unique people they were born to be…”

I saw this quote in a lovely picture book titled Wise Women. I was waiting for my acupuncture appointment and only had a couple of minutes to skim through the book. Just before I got called in, I managed to take a picture of the above quote. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the woman who was credited with this quote…. sorry!

Immediately upon reading the quote, a myriad of images simultaneously popped in my head. It was like rapid fire!

It made me think of the long lineage of women in my family who came before me. I briefly thought about their unfulfilled dreams, contributions, plights and privileges alike. It brought to mind the reasons women were married off at a young age generations ago, and those whom are still married off to this day in other countries. I also thought about the circumstances surrounding all these women’s lives.

For many, unions were forged primarily for financial and procreation reasons. For others, social status or “bettering the gene pool” may have been a contributing factor. And we do not have to look to generations and generations ago for evidence of it. I even have a friend, who is my age, and her parents’ marriage was arranged. Perhaps you know of someone, or perhaps even you or your parents had an arranged marriage?

While some of those marriages may have been successful, I can’t help but to think of the many unsatisfying marriages women stayed in. Heck, successful and independent women, to this day, stay in unhealthy, dysfunctional and miserable marriages! Imagine generations ago when women didn’t have any economic resources to pack up and go…I can’t even!!!

Here’s a thought: How many of the women in our own families were brought up to pay attention to the happiness of their husbands, fathers, mothers, and children, but not their own? For these women, “mothering” became a life sentence. I would venture to say they didn’t have the luxury to get educated, to work and make their own money, to make their own decisions, to be independent, or to practice self-care and self-love. How much have they given up? I wonder if they even allowed themselves to dream of the possibilities of a different life.

The art of mothering is an all- consuming, full-time, life-altering job for those who choose to take it on. It is a job that some of us sign up for and a job many of us choose not to take on. There are those of us who yearn to be mothers but our bodies won’t allow it, or we don’t want to be a single mom. There are those who’ve lost a child. Some of us have chosen not to have children but, instead, prefer to be the perpetual “Auntie.” Other Mother angels here on earth adopt or foster. And then there are the women who chose to bring children into this world and probably should NOT have done so, nor should be allowed anywhere near children for that matter…if you get my drift.

Mothering, on all levels, requires patience, deep love, caring, commitment, devotion, strength, inner-fortitude, nurturing, creativity, and steadfastness. It is not a job to be taken lightly. Mothering is also a job that is not only limited to our own children. Many of us have taken on this role with our students, patients, other family members, including our own parents or grand-children, friends’ children, our own friends and co-workers, and let’s not forget our fur babies.

Then there are individuals whom look at “Mothering” on a much larger and grander scale.

I recently read a beautiful essay titled Mother’s Day Every Day, written by Maria Shriver and published in her book, I’ve Been Thinking, which speaks to this notion. In it, she writes:

“I believe all of the world’s children-young and old-are looking to be loved, accepted, nurtured, soothed, and cared for by Mother energy.”

Further in the essay, she goes on to say:

Really good mothers make really good leaders because they nurture, they build a solid team, they see your potential, and they build on your strengths, not your fears. They inspire you, they guide you, and they ask of you. Plus, they are really strong, so you shouldn’t mess with them.”

Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why we are seeing so many women run for public office. For me personally, it’s an incredible privilege to bear witness to the numerous women in government today and the many women whom are running for the highest office in our country in 2020. I am still holding on to the notion that I WILL see a female president in my lifetime!

Speaking of powerful females and role models, as I was finishing up this blog, I saw a post by Michelle Obama where, in honor of Mother’s Day, she credited her own mother for giving her the freedom to seek out new perspectives and reach outside her comfort zone as she was growing up… a message she hopes we can instill in daughters today. In doing so, we can discover more of ourselves. How beautiful is that sentiment and wish!?!? Darlings, it’s one we can all carry with us our entire lives!

It’s safe to say that Mothering comes in all shapes, forms and sizes, and it brings with it unimaginable rewards AND unimaginable challenges (and sometimes broken hearts and estranged relationships).

So…on this Mother’s Day, here’s to the long line of women who came before us, to the many “unlived” lives, to the women who raised us and the generations of women whom have been “Mothering” all their lives. Here’s to us and the feminine divine that resides within each of us!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I will leave you with a beautiful piece written by Maya Angelou.

Mother…A Cradle to Hold Me

It is true I was created in you. It is also true that you were created for me. I owned your voice. It was shaped and tuned to soothe me. Your arms were molded into a cradle to hold me, to rock me. The scent of your body was the air perfumed for me to breathe.

Mother, during those early, dearest days I did not dream that you had a larger life which included me, among your other concerns, for I had a life which was only you.

Time passed steadily and drew us apart. I was unwilling. I figured if I let you go you would leave me eternally. You smiled at my fears, saying I could not stay in your lap for ever that one day you would have to stand and where would I be? You smiled again. I did not. Without warning you left me, but you returned immediately. You left again and returned, I admit, quickly. But relief did not rest with me easily. You left again, but again returned. You left again, but again returned. Each time you re-entered my world you brought assurance. Slowly I gained confidence.

You thought you knew me, but I did know you, you thought you were watching me, but I did hold you securely in my site, recording every movement, memorizing your smiles, tracing your frowns. In your absence I rehearsed you, the way you had of singing on a breeze, while a sob lay at the root of your song.

The way you posed your head so that the light could caress your face when you put your fingers on my hand and your hand on my arm, I was blessed with a sense of health, of strength and very good fortune.

You were always the heart of happiness to me, bringing nougats of glee, sweets of open laughter.

I loved you even during the years when you knew nothing and I knew everything, I loved you still. Condescendingly of course, from my high perch of teenage wisdom. I spoke sharply to you, often because you were slow to understand. I grew older and was stunned to find how much knowledge you had gleaned. And so quickly.

Mother, I have learned enough now to know I have learned nearly nothing. On this day when mothers are being honored, let me thank you that my selfishness, ignorance, and mockery did not bring you to discard me like a broken doll which had lost its favor.

I thank you that you still find something in me to cherish, to admire, and to love.

I thank you, Mother.

I love you.

Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC