Today is Mother’s Day. It is the first Mother’s Day that I have not had a living mother.
I think I spent the first part of the day ignoring it. At least I didn’t think much about it. I had lots of work to do and spent my time doing the work. But when I took a break, things started flooding in.
It was a grab bag of feelings. There was no mother to call or send a card to or go and see. During the last two plus years of her life I saw her once a week for the most part. That was not something that had occurred prior to her stroke. Our family are busy people and are not tied to one another. She spent a great deal of time gone and was busy even if she was at home. So were the rest of us. I had been more than busy ever since I was 29. So, we left messages and we got together on her birthdays and on some of ours, and on Thanksgiving and Christmas (most of us, my sister lived in another area and could not always attend). That was about it and it had been that way for me since I was about 18 or 19.
It was a new habit that developed by seeing her weekly. Sometimes it was annoying and I had to change my attitude. It took me awhile to get used to our conversations. She liked to talk and she talked mostly about food. This was not my favorite kind of conversation. She also liked to revisit the past, and to revisit what she had revisited. A hundred stories heard a thousand times each. Not another type of conversation that gets me going. I finally realized that it was not about me (just a normal, garden-variety brainiac here). When I did that, all was well. I listened because she needed to talk and it did not much matter what she said, only that she said it.
That is nurturing, and that is what Mother’s Day, however commercial it is, is about. I admit that it is unfortunate that humans tend to think that only mothers nurture. Father’s Day certainly doesn’t get the attention that Mother’s Day does. There are different kinds of nurturing and friends and males and animals and trees and flowers can all provide it. Perhaps we should call it Nurturing Day, in honor of ourselves and those that care and contribute to our sense of well-being.
And I’m off the nurturing bandwagon when it comes my mother. Given the loss that I’ve been feeling in the last three months, when the concept of nurturing did hit me today, it hit me pretty hard.
It is clear from research that support systems are generally very healthy. I haven’t had much of that recently. In fact, I seemed to be the provider of nurturing. And now, even that has been greatly modified. So when I thought of today and of mom and about nurturing, I was hit broadside with very strong emotions.
Emotions can be very helpful in learning. Ideas linked with emotions make for better retention and increased motivation. I often think that humans manufacture emotions sometimes because we instinctively know about this linking. For instance, in the absence of a significant other (real or perceived), one can come up with the emotion of loneliness or alienation which can configure the body to emanate need. This need goes out like peacock feathers, it is an attractant. What it attracts can be suspect, but it serves a purpose nonetheless. We certainly have a strong myth, tied directly to emotions, about the Cinderella/Prince Charming configuration. Women are cruelly beaten back because of their beauty and attractiveness, but someone, somewhere, will ride to the rescue. I personally love the Sleeping Beauty/Prince-as-a-frog story. Women are beautiful, but asleep and men are frogs that are unaware of their inherent royalty. Both need a kiss (arousing emotion) to be awakened.
In the absence of getting nurtured (made up or not–sometimes we just need an emotional rush to feel like we are alive and haven’t sold our existence to the recurring habit of a hamster wheel), we can certainly come up with the stories that prime us and others around us. It is kind of like an emotional estrus for both men and women.
In fact, I view this emotional-story-telling-so-we-can-have-somebody-and-not-be-alone as a big part of the human lie. I’m guessing that we are so unmotivated by a sense of general happiness that we have to create lies that can arouse great emotions in us, which lets us know that we are actually still here. So we have affairs, argue, kill, create hierarchies and all the other things that let us artificially set up tenets of nurturing, based on lack, that give rise to the vast ups and downs that humans seem to need.
Weird, considering that happiness has enough inherent wonder and mystery for us to feel alive. But I guess we’re not much comfortable with that, it is not as familiar as our propensity for sadness and lack.
Today, Mother’s Day, Nurturing Day, I feel great stirrings and deep emotions. I think we’ve been going about this nurturing all wrong. Nurturing to get, is like boy scouts helping unwilling ladies across the street, or the frog/prince dashing about kissing whomever, hoping that one of them is indeed Sleeping Beauty, or Cinderella bedding everybody for the chance to see who has her shoe. When we keep at this long enough, we forget about helping or finding someone particular, we just find ourselves with habits and longing and a sense that all is not right.
So, to mom and to dad, hello. To the people you were, to the lives you led, to the learning that’s there somewhere, to the memory of you both, to the reality of you both–remembered or not, Happy Nurturing Day. I off-load my anxiety and my hurt and my emotions tied in with feelings of being slighted. I do so in honor of today and in honor of you and in honor of myself. Thank you for the gifts, as all of it was and continues to be. May I quit being so stupid as to think or feel otherwise.
I laugh (again), mostly at myself (again). It is another good day. I think I’ll go for a walk (again). The sun is low in the West and the wind is dancing with the earth and the rooted beings (again). It will feel good to do that, and it is certainly the right day for it.