THE SPECTRUM OF MOTHERHOOD
Are there any topics more emotion-laden than motherhood? I suppose there are some but motherhood is right up there somewhere on the top of the pile.
There’s a mother’s love for her child. If you’re a mother, you know about that. Love for your child is a powerful, powerful feeling. And, there’s a child’s love for his or her mother. Knowing that their mother is probably the best and sometimes the only source of truly unconditional love creates a connection that is intense. Considering the combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual bonds that tie mother and child, it is an extremely intimate and complicated bond between two human beings. It is very, very special.
Your mother carried you inside her body while you worked at becoming you. You came into this life by coming out of her body. If you were breast fed, you were nourished and you grew into yourself on mother’s milk, again, created by her body. She held you and comforted you as you got adjusted to the reality that life outside the womb isn’t always comfortable. But, she lovingly comforted you. I could go on and on about the unlimited bounty of a mother’s love.
Sadly, motherhood stories don’t always end happily. There are mothers who do abuse and neglect their children. Those situations are extremely hard to understand but they do exist. At the end of the day, mothers are just people. Some people are emotionally and psychologically strong and others aren’t. Some mothers were raised in loving families themselves and others were not. Some women just shouldn’t become mothers. But, they do. The people who have those unfit mothers often have the saddest stories because if you’re missing the experience of a loving mother, there isn’t really another place where you can ever really get that. While volunteering at the prisons, I met many people with unimaginable childhood stories of suffering neglect or abuse as children. I am grateful that neither I nor my child experienced anything at all like that. And, yes, I understand that many wonderful people love children whose mothers aren’t available and their love can be deep, sincere and very real. But, it can never be exactly the same as mother’s love. It can be amazingly good but it is different.
And, sadly, there are children who, for reasons that are also hard to understand, reject their mother’s love – even a good mother’s love. Children are just people too. Their way of interpreting their experiences is their own and no one can tell them they are making a mistake – no one but themselves, of course. Some break free of the only home they have ever known like a hurling grenade. Some reject the love of their mother leaving shrapnel behind.
Motherhood can bring the highest high and the lowest low. Still, there are lessons and potential value that can be claimed no matter where your motherhood experience falls on the spectrum of possibilities.
If your mother-child relationship shines brightly, hopefully you can embrace all that bliss and still have some room remaining for other love situations. Other people, people in general, the earth, and animals all need love.
If you, mother or child, made a mistake along the way, you can learn from whatever it was and hopefully your efforts to make amends will be accepted. If they are not, then you can learn to love more and maybe differently, you can learn acceptance and you can learn to move on and live well no matter what. Love in spite of a rejection. Love more broadly. Love more deeply. Love yourself. Just love. That’s a valuable lesson for anyone.
I’ve experienced it all.
I am very close with my mother now. She is 86 years old. That wasn’t always the case. But, all the reasons for this and that don’t matter at all now. What matters is that she knows that I love her back. She did her best and I value and appreciate her mother’s love for me.
I’m also so very grateful for having the opportunity to be the mother of a magnificent baby girl who is now a wonderful mother of three. The picture above is of me and my sweet, sweet baby girl over 30 years ago. Can you feel the love between us? I can.