Sample Introduction for a Mothers Day Memorial:
Where does one start in considering a role as important and powerful as “mothering”?
Each of us carries our own ‘mothering’ experiences in our minds and hearts, in every cell in our bodies and in the fabric of who we are and how we live our lives. So many of our formative experiences happened before our logical mind had matured to the point of awareness of ourselves as a separate being and an ability to see and evaluate those experiences against any mature understanding.
In fact, many theorists would suggest that such objective evaluation is impossible. For a woman is not a mother without a child, and a child without someone to ‘mother’ him or her, can not survive. Thus both women and child are bound together in a couplet that hopefully nurtures and empowers both parties.
Of course perfection is not only not achievable, in the realm of human relationships, it is not even necessarily desirable.
Donald Winncott a famous pediatrician and child psychoanalyst of the 20th century describes his ideal mother as, and I quote “as a “good-enough mother” – and imperfectly attentive mother who does a better job than the “perfect” one, who risks stifling her child’s development as a separate being”.
Eric Fromm, a famous social philosopher and 20th century psychoanalyst, and author of the best selling book The Art of Loving says, and I quote,
"The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent.”
Fromm believed “the true nature of love, … always had the common elements of care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge.”
Thus parenthood, where the parent literally has the power of life and death over a vulnerable dependent child, requires a depth of love and commitment seldom required in other relationships.
Most women would say that it is not until they become mothers that they have any true appreciation of the amount of time and energy that is required to parent a child. At this simplistic level, that is 43 thousand 800 hours of direct care required to the age of 5; a further 61 thousand 320 hours of supervised care shared with school to the age of 12 years; over 100,000 hours of care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge plus a further 52 thousand 560 hours to guide one’s teenager to the age our society considers the young person an adult.
No wonder few mothers have any liking for war or risky behaviour that, in a instant, can obliterate a human being with whom they have devoted so much of themselves.
Of course the time and the energy mothering tasks require, are only crude measures of a woman’s involvement with her child.
The child’s needs for empathy and sensitivity, affectionate touch, holding and interaction, emotional and spiritual nurture, wise guidance, courage and faith in the basic goodness of the child and other human beings, are just some of the components required to parent a child.
Not all mothers are capable or have the opportunity to offer all the components of being a “good enough” mother. Today we acknowledge that.
We also acknowledge that that is life, and that in many ways “family” is a fertile ground to learn the lessons that come from experiencing other people’s impatience, intolerance, insensitivity, injustice and the like.
For it is easy to decide to cast aside friendships that lack all the positive qualities we desire, but not so easy with family members. They provide the environment for character development to maturity and wisdom.
Families can be like the tumbler that lapidarists use to polish stones. Stones that start out dull and rough, yet through their bumping up against other stones in the barrel, have their rough edges smoothed. And then at the end of a long process emerge shiny, beautiful and worthy of taking a place of respect in a gold or silver setting.
Intuitively we all know this, our family bonds can often be ones of a mixtures of thoughts and emotions – both good and not so good, a mixture of love and dislike, a strange mix but one that enriches who we are if we are willing to learn life’s lessons.
So as we gather here today, when you think about your mother, and her mother, what are the attributes that come to mind or heart about the lessons they faced and the ones you learnt in their presence.
What are your treasured memories ? Are there experiences that need healing? Are their deeds that need appreciation and works of thanks giving that were not able to be given? What would you like to share with others about your Mother?
In a moment, you will be asked to come forward to light a candle for those women in your chain of life who were your families' mothers, whether they were birth mothers or mothers of the spirit. And if you wish to name that person, and say a few simple words about their gift or gifts to life.
While we become present to those thoughts and feelings, we will play this music titled:
© 2010 CCN Rona Goold