Mothers take a really big hit in our culture. We are blamed for all of the dysfunctional behavior on the planet, or so it seems, and for turning out all of these disturbed children who grow up to be disturbed adults. Yet good or bad, effective or ineffective, the passing of our mothers forces us to take a closer look at them as individuals, as people, and as teachers. What matters to me is not whether I did a good job at raising my girls or not, but whether what they learned from me will serve them in their own lives and the lives of my grandchildren, and beyond. If I can leave them any pearls of wisdom at all, it would be these:
- Learn from my mistakes, don't repeat them
- Self-love and self-care isn't being selfish, it's being responsible
- To admit you were wrong is to grow
- Live your passion now
- Love your children where they are, not where you want them to be
I've written before about my joy at watching the livestream of the Decorah Eagles on UStream. Every year I watch them return to their birthing nest in the late fall to make the necessary repairs, lay their eggs in late February and wait like an expectant Auntie for the first chick to make his or her appearance in late March. So far we have two hatched out of three eggs with the third one due any day. I can sit for hours just watching that mother eagle on the nest, getting up only to feed her babies with the food Dad has brought her and to rearrange herself over them against the wind, snow and cold of an early Iowa spring. She never falters in her duties and her presence is both protective and powerful. I've watched this same behavior with wolves and their pups. It is from these noble teachers, and from the stories of my ancestors, that I have come to realize that being a mother is not a job, not a chore, but an honor. I am humbled by this and know that it will make me more aware of the things I say and do that my children will carry with them when I choose to make my own transition. When I think of all the women who long for children and can't have them, I feel deep gratitude for having been chosen for this honor, and I accept it with all of the dignity I can muster.
And so it is.