I’m coming off a week of lots of feelings. R and I struggled. He was whiny and demanding. We have colds so neither of us feel very well. We had several tense moments. We also had a couple of moments of solid connection. And several times this week he spontaneously said, “Mommy, I love you!” with a big smile. But, he would produce this statement when I was so ragged that I had to consciously form the words, “I love you,” in response.
Of course this is the kind of week that precedes Mother’s Day. Walk the earth long enough and you learn that even the most well-intentioned holidays have a shadow. I like seeing things on social media acknowledging this. Not all of us get to be mothers. Some of us lose children. Some of us experience miscarriages. Some of us are reminded of our own strained relationships with moms, sisters, or grandmothers. Some of us have lost our mothers too soon. Some of us never had a mother to speak of. What a fraught role motherhood is! You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t which ever side of these relationships you fall on.
Maybe the truth of motherhood and all of its appendages is that no one can fill that role. In the LDS church there is a belief in Heavenly Mother, a female counterpart to a male God. She is hardly ever discussed, kept under a veil of the sacred. Growing up in the church, the secrecy around her was explained in this way: God so revered her, and knowing the nature of humanity to desecrate, chose to keep her out of the dialogue. Maybe that’s true but maybe she is too complex to explain. She must be experienced to be understood.
I see her fingerprints everywhere in this world. My Jungian therapist explains, the masculine is direct and operates on a straight line or a linear trajectory, but the feminine meanders. Because of this, the feminine has been demonized since Eve ate the fruit. But there is beauty and necessity in the wandering feminine. I think this is what we have to reconcile in ourselves as women. It’s messy. It’s supposed to be.
The mess is what makes Mother’s Day hard. I have a clear idea of what motherhood should be. I can picture the role. And we try to fit the women in our lives, and ourselves, into that role. This never works. Because we are feminine—we meander, we are messy. So then we take it out on our mother’s who didn’t fill the role as we would have hoped and we take it out on life that dealt us the miscarriage and the child who passed away or the barren womb or the failed adoption or the lack of a man to create a child with. We beat ourselves against the role and we bleed our pain.
And while we do this, Heavenly Mother watches and waits. She whispers to us the truth that seems to only become visible through the pain, You are your own mother. Like Eve in the garden, I have to partake of the fruit. I am the only one who can heal myself. I cannot depend on a mother to feed me the fruit. I learn that am an agent to myself. That the roles are crutches. That they are only slowing me down because I have two legs that are ready to run hard and fast on the meandering trail.
So if you are in pain on Mother’s Day, know you are in good company. Know that there is a woman in heaven who understands that life doesn’t fit within a role. Maybe the best way to honor yourself and the women in your life is to see the beauty in the wandering path. Namaste.