A mother gives a child her place in this world.
We are all walking tableaus of how we were raised. Even the woman on the cover of Time’s most recent desperate cover (desperate in media stunt to usher women into a more mommy war), she tells us about her mother.
What? well you’d have to get a momma who breastfeeds her three year old. You’d have to know her to find out. But I bet you’ll be blessed with insight rather than judgment if you take time to listen to her instead of measuring her up by mere appearances (a picture can say so much and still say so little).
My son surprises me with his differences as much as his similarities to me. He wants to paint when I watercolor, he wants to swim when I swim, he wants to cook when it’s dinner time.
He can also throw rocks at my head with the best of them. He loves Jeeping and watching bugs very closely, he wants to lay on the corgis’ heads, and he always has time to cuddle (all not me).
A perpetual cheerleader and participant, an easy kudos gallery for me to get more identity-making goodies than any mother would like to admit. My son is not my cookie jar, but he tells the world how I make cookies.
Jackie Kennedy once said “If you don’t do a good job of raising your children, it doesn’t really matter what else you do well.” C.G. Jung also wrote, ”Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their children than the unlived life of a parent.” Two statements, two books leaning against each other.
The best gift my son could give me, on Mother’s Day, will be a smile over the life I treasure in addition to his.
I want my son to thank me for having my own life.
I want him to honor the time I spend away from him in the cultivation of my gifts and my soul as much as he values the time I spend teaching him to speak Spanish. Motherhood is vital, but it is not the most difficult job in my life. Motherhood is precious, but it is not my anchor for purpose. Motherhood is deliciously satisfying, but it is not the most important thing I do each day.
The most important thing I do each day is listening to the Spirit of God and let this Wind of heaven teach me what I must do right now. This is the legacy I want my son to have, listening like Legolas with his elfin ear to the ground, waiting for the one thing needful right now.
Mothers reflect the God of Israel in more than their mothering. God who mothers us also takes care of other things: averting craters from hitting our blue globe, food for the Leviathan, textiles for the trees, water management to avoid another world wide flood, inspiration for the stars of heaven and their symphonies (Job 41).
Management of many things: the work of God and many mothers.
And we can’t do it all, which is why we rest, as God rested (Gen 2:1-3). We do mothering in our unique way, reflecting God’s creativity in his created beings. For instance, we cease nursing our babies before others do, or we breastfeed longer than others, we teach our babies to sleep earlier or we bring them to bed with us, we have little schedule, but lots of routine, we teach them to eat solids at 4 months or at one year. We do mothering as the Spirit leads us.
And in all we do, we are giving our children a place in this world. We teach them to listen to the Spirit in their spirits, to walk into new ways where we didn’t walk.
And in the end all they really want, is what we all want: to be called by the name our mothers used when they weren’t ticked off at us.
If we can call our children by this name, we have done enough.
“The purest definition of mother love. For all the pain, for all the suffering, for all the disagreements between the generations, a mother gives her child her place in the world, as a daughter and as a future wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend.”
Peony in Love