A Mother’s Job

Mother kissing baby while sitting on meadow in parkMy youngest son is about to graduate from high school.
I’ve had 26 Mays being a mother, 26 Mother’s Days, and I have loved every one.
But my active mothering is pretty much over.

This strapping 18-year-old young man doesn’t really need me for much of anything these day.
Nor does he want to hang out with me like he did when he was 4.

His snuggling is saved for his girlfriend now.
I still get an occasional hug and even a parting “Love ya, Mom,” once in a while.
And I feel lucky.

These days the kind of mothering I used to dole out to my children
– making sure they were eating and sleeping well,
getting outside to play,
rubbing skinned knees and tucking them in at night with a cuddle and a really good bedtime story –
I’m needing to learn to give myself.

I’m finding it much harder to do a good job mothering myself 
than it was to give round-the-clock care and attention to my three children.
And I thought they were tough to manage!
All those years of devoting myself to children or, more recently, my work out in the world
— moving fast and ignoring even my body’s most basic needs —
dug deep and habitual grooves in my psyche!
I’d become so driven to bring my best to everything that I’d lost the capacity to care for myself…
To listen to my deepest needs…
To honor and cultivate the precious inner being of myself.

What does it look like to mother myself well?
To truly tend to my nourishment?

I make well-intentioned promises to myself.
Eat more greens.
Get to bed early.
Get out there and at least take a walk!!!
But it’s the consistency that eludes me.
In trying so hard to balance so many shoulds I can eventually lose the thread of life’s pleasure.
I end up throwing my own tantrum and noshing down a bag of Fritos in 5 minutes flat.

So what do I really need?
Like an impetuous child I need a mama…
or maybe the mama inside who would sit her overwrought daughter on her knee,
stroke the sticky hair off her brow, and say,
“Come here, Sweetie. Let’s calm down.” 
As my snotty nose rubbed against the collar of her shirtdress,
she’d bring me back home to right now.
“Listen, do you hear that bird?” she’d ask.
“Let’s see what she says.”

That’s what a mother does.
She helps us remember what’s real. 

So perhaps there’s a partnership waiting for us here.
One between the archetypical mother we all carry inside and Mother Nature out there.
We can count on that support!
But can we begin to really listen to her wisdom?
Can we allow ourselves to source her nurturing,
to bring the care we give to others back home?

Our Earth Mother is right here, ready to nourish us,
to nurture us through the overwrought, exhausted distraction that is our everyday life.
She’s here to hold us, anytime we need her.

“Come here, Sweetie. Let’s calm down.”
Go outside.
Sit down in the grass.
Listen to the birds or the breeze.
Take a few long slow breaths.
And let yourself be mothered.

Good mothering is what’s called for right now.
​For ourselves and for our Earth.

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