Spring and Summer tend to be the space in between for me. The heaviness of the winter begins to shed and it’s time to be outside soaking up the sun. Time begins to stand still more and a feel like I can breathe. Slowing down allows me to take it what it is that I am missing when I am doing my usual Tigger dance all around, it also means that I am with the me that is underneath the achievements. On Mother’s Day I dedicated my yoga class to the mother inside of all of us. That part of ourselves that honors and nurtures others. Gender does not play a role in mothering. We all do it to a greater or lesser degree. We mother people we work with and people we are related to. We may even mother biological or adopted children. We mother friends and colleagues. How do we do this? Every time we lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on. Each time we share a cup of coffee or tea or make a dinner for someone we are mothering. What came up inside of me this Mother’s Day as I sat in the space in between was just how many people I have mothered and what kind of mother I have been to them. It is no surprise that social work is primarily a field full of women. In general women are socialized to see themselves to a greater or lesser degree as caretakers of everyone around them. Back in the day girls were often the ones who set and cleaned the table after dinner (thankfully my Italian American momma made “the boy” do this do but generally speaking that DEFINITELY is not the Italian way:) Girls are made to be pretty so they can be presentable to others and eventually find a boy to marry and produce children. This woman was always one of the daintier creatures who enjoyed being “a gurl” so to speak. The other parts of womanhood I was never so sure about. It was that space in between that I was more concerned with.
What does that mean you say? Well, I guess I always had something to focus my attention on. Some aspiration, some achievement, mostly some day dream of the other worldly type (yes I am a Pieces which means I am constantly dreamy and work harder to keep myself grounded in the real world.) As I grew into my 20’s it was rebellion that took hold (yes late bloomer.) I had lots I wanted to do and see. I wasn’t at all concerned about a womb of any sort. My late 20’s took me on a very different path. I was set to be an attorney or so I thought until I began working in a battered women’s shelter and decided “no I think social work school will be it for me.” I can’t say enough about how this shift in direction took my life towards health and wellness but it also took me towards motherhood in a way I never would have imagined. My career path incorporated all the areas of parenting that I can only imagine are the most challenging. Yes, I didn’t give birth (that always freaked me out and I wasn’t sure I wanted that anyway) and yes the adults that I mothered did not come home with me (that is a good thing despite me wanting a few of them to take up space in my dining room for a warm dinner and shelter) but I did mother. I have never been woken up by a baby in the middle of the night nor have I known what it would be like to worry that something may happen to my own flesh and blood from my own DNA. But some of the aspects that would make one wonder “WTF was I thinking” and at the same time feel in awe of the love that you feel; that I have had. It was this Mother’s Day though, that I began to wonder more about the space in between it all. Did I rob myself of the opportunity to be an actual mother by entering a field that required me to do the most challenging aspects of mothering to many people, some who much like adolescents couldn’t stand being near me. Did I do the right thing by choosing this career path that made the idea of having my own children more difficult because I was parenting every day, all day at work. Have I missed an opportunity or was this even what I wanted?
It’s hard to share this with you as it’s probably some of the rawest emotions that I feel. Am I any less of a mother because I didn’t mother? Does this make me any less of a woman because I chose other paths in life rather than focusing on finding a mate to “mate” with? To all this I say no. I know in my heart that the path I took was the one that was right for me. It was the one that was right at the moment. In all the years I have been a social worker while there have more moments to count when I felt swallowed up in stress, there have been moments that I would never ever change where I realize that the “children” I was mothering desperately needed someone to care for them so that they could learn to care as much for themselves. They needed a role model for love because they had none. They needed someone who would love them even though they did bad things in the past and even though they didn’t love themselves. They needed a white light to guide the way. Like any choice we make in life it brings us down a path that changes our life. I am still pretty ambivalent about whether I want to mother in a traditional sense; to a human being that is. Canines are the babies I feel most comfortable around. But clearly, there is a nagging part of me that wonders Will I? Do I? and for that reason I write, I talk and I release. I have always known that if it were for me, it would be in an “alternative lifestyle” type of way. That is to say that the traditional roles and ways that people think about having children have never felt as though they fit for me. But maybe some day there will be a unique way it will. In my mind I am living in Paris (no wait a minute I don’t speak French.) Ummm actually as everyone knows it’s probably Ireland, with a big dog in Galway where the ocean and cliffs are nearby and I have a friendly community around me. I think maybe if travel could be a part of my life and I could share that with a little one, maybe just maybe it could be. But who knows, fantasy often doesn’t equate to real life but suffice to say I know it would need to look and feel authentic.
In the space in between, I continue to honor the mother inside of me with everyone I meet. I know that the mother I am today is far more nurturing than the mother I could have been when I was feeling swallowed up. Today I choose to mother consciously rather than feel that it is my God Given Role whether as a social worker, woman or otherwise. I go the extra mile when I feel connected to another person who I feel needs that mother role in order to take them further along in becoming a nurturing mother to themselves. In this respect it feels that I become a mother to those motherless “children” who may never be properly mothered if not for another who is available to nurture. I truly believe that all this mothering/nurturing energy came from learning how to be a better mother towards myself. I continue on this path and as I do I see more and more love rise to the surface. How do you find yourself mothering in non-traditional ways? What kind of mother are you to yourself and are there areas where you could shift to offer yourself more nurturance?
Cheers to living in the space in between. The only place were reality is…in the here and now. Honor the love you have and more love will come your way!