Mar 25, 2011
In the lead up to Mother’s Day in the UK, the Mum’s the Word series on Oomphalos continues, and today two mothers – one of grown daughters and one of a young child – tell what it means to them to be a mother:
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs). This has certainly proved to be the case in my experience. When my two daughters were young, I tried to make learning fun and made a great effort to expose them to different peoples and cultures–quiet story times at night, traveling with them to Asia for two months when they were 10 and 12, frequenting museums when they were old enough to appreciate it, taking them on Thanksgiving to feed the homeless. At the time, I often wondered if any of this was sinking in and if so, what form it would eventually take. Well, it all seems to have “stuck” in some way. My oldest daughter Julie, age 32, is now a professor in International Studies, specializing in international immigration issues. Her greatest joy is in teaching such a multi-cultural student body. Karen, age 29, has traveled extensively throughout the developing world, including living in Istanbul for a summer to learn Turkish, and working for Save the Children in Azerbaijan for several months. She is now an investigative reporter working for BusinessWeek magazine. They’re both passionate about what they do, are on a constant quest for knowledge, and have a strong appreciation for different peoples, cultures, religions and backgrounds. As a mom, it’s a pleasure to know that values have been transmitted and I can now sit back and see what amazing things they’ll be up to next.
Becoming a mother is like being given a professional dancer role overnight. It is an overnight transformation of a woman with an overwhelming feeling of knowing that from then on she will be expected to dance all her life and to give her best performance, come what may. Being new to this concept, a new mother will try to give a perfect performance because she will think the dance will not be possible otherwise. So she will go through a period of practice, pain, tears, dissappointments in herself, brutal self criticisms and falls. It is only when she discovers to trust herself, her intuition, that she starts to know what dancing is all about. She will somehow learn to tune into her partner in dance who is her child. Then she will stop trying not to step on her partner’s feet and just step. She will stop trying to direct her partner’s moves according to her, but just go with the flow. She will stop trying to learn to dance and just dance. Then the dance will be like the dance of the sun and the moon; the ebb and the flow; the sand and the waves; or the wind and the kite. Once she learns how to tune into her partner in dance she learns to be in the moment with her child. Then, when they start dancing together, they do this magical thing of flying, by melting together into the music that is called life.
What does it mean to you to be a mother or to have a mother?