Some of my favorite quotes for the day:
In this war against children we all enter on the losing side and carry our wounds along to the next generation. (Page 8)
The problem with families is not that you get stuck in the same persona for life, which is what everyone complains about, but that you're always getting confused with someone else and end up taking the blame for them. You may think of yourself as a freestanding individual, a unique point of consciousness in the universe, but in many ways you are just subbing for absent family members or departed ancestors. (Page 33)
People talk about "leading a life," as if it were an ox being tugged on a rope through its nose ring, but in my experience most of what we do is just try to dodge whatever's coming our way – the blindingly bright, completely unexpected explosions that disrupt even the most orderly plan. (Page 45)
Human beings are connected not only by love and loyalty – or, more generally, by neurotic symbiosis and material dependency – but by our joint agreement about the "real." (Page 55)
The specific content of the memories does not have to be tragic; it's just that no matter how you evoke it, the past is inherently always about death: what was and no longer is. (Page 62)
From Barbara Ehrenreich: Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything.
I have just finished reading Ehrenreich's book (above). It stirred many associations and memories of my own, as I read about her "quest" for truth in her life, through the exploration of her relationship with her mother. I especially identified with the complexity of emotion, and the understanding of Barbara's mother's life that developed out of her internal ethnography.
For, over the years, as I process the relationship between me and my mother I come to understand her own challenges, shattered dreams, and world view – her sense of the "real." I realize the points at which I took the blame, or subbed "for absent family members," that Ehrenreich described so succinctly. So many unconscious interactions and behaviors creating a mystery that can only cause those of us seeking awareness to search for the "truth" about our lives forever!
As a mother to my son, I struggled with fear about my own unconscious behaviors and interactions with him, trying not to repeat what I had experienced growing up, always trying to get this mothering thing right.
In point of fact, there is no way to get it right. Just too many wild, mysterious variables in the mix! Genetics, environment, generations of parenting, and complexities and challenges of living day to day. Returning from the World Forum on Early Care and Education a couple of days ago, I am reinforced and inspired with the knowledge that it is imperative that we love and respect all children – for their brain development, and social and emotional well-being.
While chatting with a colleague at one of the coffee breaks at the conference, I mentioned this "Good Mother" blog, describing it as a "Handbook of Guilt for Parents." She burst out laughing, nodding her head up and down vehemently. "Oh yes!" she exclaimed. "The guilt! The guilt!"
Mothering is complex, challenging, and excruciating. There is no doubt that I suffered as a child, as I know my mother did when she was growing up. As hard as I tried to prevent my son from suffering, he probably did too. Childhood is seldom a simple, happy time, even though some people like to nostalgically reminisce about the good old days.
So, Happy Mother's Day to all of us – especially for trying so hard – and amidst all the tears and confusion- for loving and experiencing joy – and, especially, for doing the very best we can with what we have … had …