A friend said to me recently:
“Sometimes I don’t even know what is mine and what are other people’s ideas when it comes to my beliefs about mothering.”
We looked at each other for a moment in silence as we considered the truth of these words. Like so many things we do, our mothering tends to be a mishmash of things we’ve thrown together on the run, reactions to the way we were parented (that sucked, there’s no way I’m inflicting that on my child!) as well as snippets inspired by other mothers we’ve admired. But how are we to sift through all of this…and why do I keep getting images of laundry?
In my mind, it’s like this – we have to empty out our drawers and sort all the clothes into piles: one pile for things that we like and make us feel good, another pile for things that could be good if they were mended, a pile for things that are totally worn out and can’t be fixed and one last pile of clothes that people gave us that we never liked anyway, but kept to be polite.
After a while I said, “I bet we could journal our way through this. If it was me, I would start with things I liked about the way I was mothered, and when I had figured that out, I would write down the things I like about my own mothering style.”
And maybe then we could have some order in this damn laundry!
And so a new blog post was born
Ten things about motherhood I love as a daughter…
1. My mother’s warmth, affection and unconditional source of love. I didn’t have to try to be anything to get my mother’s approval. I just had to be myself (and help around the house ).
2. According to my mother, respect was a two-way street. She would behave respectfully towards me, and expected in turn that I behave respectfully towards her. There were one set of rules for the entire house, and I felt that fairness and justice was a priority.
3. Health was a big deal for my mother – in fact it still is: my mother has been a practicing Homeopath/Naturopath for more than 30 years. She taught me how to be healthy, how to make healthy food choices, as well as helping me to understand health is not just a physical concern, but a mental, emotional and spiritual one as well. I have been very grateful in my later life of the head start which she gave me, although not always appreciative at the time :).
4. One of the things I remember most about my childhood was the natural world. When I was 5, my mother moved us from Sydney to a 150 acre farm with crystal clear creeks, undisturbed forests, abundant wildlife and domestic animals as well. To this day I will go to the river to recharge, the birds are my friends, and the sunrise my alarm clock. Not only did I learn about cycles of Mother Earth, but I learned about my own cycles too. What a gift.
5. Along with the sense of fairness and respect came an expectation that we would all contribute to the running of the house, garden and farm (there is no such thing as a free lunch, my friends ). My brother and I helped with the housework, the garden and jobs on the farm. Like Mum’s insistence on a healthy diet, I have come to appreciate the wisdom of this lesson more as I have gotten older (and I now have my own
slaves children). One of the results of being part of the running of a household, apart from learning a good work ethic, is that we never took our mother and all the work she did for granted.
6. My mother saw our spiritual development as important, and although we didn’t go to church or have a structured religion, we talked about God, the many different belief systems, and how all paths lead to the One. I was taught to at first tolerate then embrace different beliefs, and the knowledge that everyone is entitled to believe what they wish is one that has stayed with me to this day. I suppose this may be where I also get my intense dislike of dogma from…
7. My mother was rarely critical, but she knew our weaknesses and would coach and encourage us to improve in those areas. I am a rational, analytical person and have a tendency to be opinionated and judgmental. My mother patiently taught me to respect other people’s opinions and to know that everyone has the right to think whatever they wish without some hoyden scolding them for their abject stupidity :). Later on, I learned that opinions come and opinions go, and have come to value them less and less, both in myself and in others.
8. My mother never tolerated gossip, would refuse to discuss a person unless they were there and ignored or punished all tale telling. This has been of great benefit living in a small community
9. My mother was young when she had me at 17; but she knew her own mind, and wanted to parent her own way. While this did result in some interesting experiments and occasional alienation of her family, she took mothering very seriously and was always looking for ways to refine and enhance her parenting techniques. These days we call it Conscious Parenting – in the 1970s there was not even a word for it.
10. My mother is a Saggitarius and was (is) renowned for her unorthodox and unpredictable solutions to problems. I could never guess what her response would be to anything! While this was a little annoying to an in-the-box Taurean, she was open to all suggestions, no matter how ludicrous, and brain-storming solutions to problems around the dinner table was common place.
When I lay it out like that…my mother was awesome! Thanks Mum
So, did it get you thinking? What do you value about how you were mothered?