Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mothering Day

I think I need to make a distinction between being honoured for being a mother and being honoured for mothering. Big difference, isn't there? Our culture does a lovely job of loving our mothers on Mother's Day.
Based on consumer purchases of fresh flowers and plants for holidays at all outlets:
Mother's day ranks 2nd, with 24% in dollar volume of all transactions for the year (after Christmas).

So mothers are getting flowers and cards declaring love and everlasting gratitude. Many are getting meals prepared for them and possibly their house cleaned on this special day! I think it's wonderful. Any chance to honour our mums (and dads!) is big in my books.

But what about mothering in our culture the other 355 days of the year? Do you think that all is well? We're all one, right? Whatever befalls one of us befalls every one of us? We can make sure we're raising our sons and daughters to honour mothering in our own homes, and that's a good start. Being part of a larger community or tribe that does the same is even better. But is it enough? Do you think that any of us can in any way not be affected by the larger culture around us? And what about when your children choose spouses? Well, accept for mine, I'm not worried as I'm going the arranged-marriage route ;o)

I don't know. I really think that change begins in our own homes, but that we are all mothers to all children everywhere. And personally being with my mil on Sunday was a huge wake-up call for me. It's subtle, isn't it? To me that's what's insidious about it. There was nothing on Sunday that made it rational to jump up and yell out about it. And you know me, so you can be assured I was not silently brooding about it! I was speaking up. In fact I suggested that the husband (who forgets his wife's birthday every year) ask his mother to remind him each year. She's not an accountant! I got strange looks over that one. It's the eager, interested questions about how busy the men are at work, what's happening, what events are upcoming. No questions about what's going on with the mothers and kids, and when someone mentions something there being no interest, no empathy for what's tiring, the suck-it-up message when its mentioned how long the days are with the men working long hours... It's subtle, that's just it: This thing in our culture that values money and status far above parenting. On Sunday I got it on a soul level that I need to make a stronger stand for the honouring of parenting and especially mothering on this planet. Annika has a poster that says "I am in the world to change the world." Maybe it should be in my room instead.

Ani DiFranco is on the cover (and feature article) in Mothering magazine this month. She says the day she gave birth to her daughter she was reborn a feminist. Talking about the work of mothering she says "It's hard to recognize, because men's work has such extravagant evidence -- skyscrapers, for instance -- while much of women's work just makes the world quietly turn."

And as an aside, I'm wondering if there's any different sense about all this depending on whether or not you have a daughter. I got two phonecalls from mothers of daughters on Monday morning, both feeling the same urgency to turn things around in our culture. Along with a couple emails from mothers of sons wondering if I'm okay. I wonder if there's something to that. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I'm taking that stand with you...for parenting...and esp. mothering. I look forward to more conversations about this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

As for girls/boys....I know that it feels (to me) as important for my son to see and learn how to honor mothering/parenting as my daughters. I'm excited about raising a son who will grow into a man who will help transform our cultures view of the important role. And a I have vision of my daughters becoming mothers who know their inherent worth and who will find themselves surrounded by others who honor them and share that vision.

Anonymous said...

oops - some typos above - i was typing in a hurry!

Samantha said...

First of all, thank you so much for your post about The Shelter of Each Other. Because of you, I found this book right when I really needed to read it, and reading it helped me through a bunch of things I'm going through right now. It also inspired some changes in my life. So thank you for posting about it and leading me to it.
Also, thank you for your mothering posts. It took me awhile to read through them as tears were filling my eyes. You say what needs to be said, what thoughts are in the back of our minds, and you say them so beautifully and so meaningfully.

Mary-Sue said...

Thank you, J for this! I do think we ALL need to be more lovingly vocal about the value of parenting in our culture. But we also have to be willing to LIVE it. We can't have our words saying we honour one Goddess and our actions saying we still worship the great $. It's a big stand to take!
S, thank you for sharing yourself this way. Your words mean so much to me. Thank you.

Tabitha said...

Do you know how you change the world? Your last couple blog comments have been so thought-provoking for me and have sparked conversations with various people in my life, all of which I am sure will spark conversations with others in their lives – and hopefully so on and so on. You are so very, very special and such a treasure!!
I am totally and completely ready to give birth again – a couple days? A week? I am focusing my energy there. But I also have a vision of Mothers caring for Mothers – an online support honouring the work of moms, loving each other, sending each other great love and maybe care packages in times of need. I have been thinking so much lately about the vulnerability of moms and kids in our society and you’ve so summed up the reasons – it’s because of screwed up priorities. What culture lets a woman and children who have just lost their husband/dad worry about food and shelter?! What culture values “economic growth” over emotional welfare?!
So much I want to do around this, but will be focusing on baby for a bit, first. (I am so excited to be holding this wee one in my arms!!)
Anyways, thinking of you and appreciating you and loving you.