Happy Mother’s Day – Musing on the Mothering Cycle

A mother bears a child, who in turn becomes a mother herself one day. Repeating over and over since the beginning of time. But where do the lines cross between mother and child, child and mother? A daughter can be both forever. And no matter how old we get, son or daughter, there are just times we want our mommy. I don’t think that ever goes away.

Just as we will always be our mother’s child, so too will she be not only our mother, but our mommy. Even if we’re a hundred, and her corporeal form is no longer there, our memories, and I believe our continued reality together goes on. I don’t accept that it’s just our memories that are left. I believe a real relationship continues and transcends all we tangibly know. That said of course, I want both forever, corporeal and eternal for time immemorial.

While a lifelong mother/child relationship is obviously about far more than one-sided caregiving, that is our earliest memory of it. And what a little part of us will always cling to at times – hard-wired into us it seems.

I remember when I first realized my mom still had moments when she wanted her mom that way. To be held and reassured and comforted as one was as child. What for an adult exists in memories and dreams. It became one more thing we shared, that we could both relate to. And there was proof right in front of me that that feeling never goes away. That’s both comforting and scary, but mostly comforting.

Such a unifying experience, with any perceived generation gap, just gone, vanished. Children, parents, grandparents, all just want their momma sometimes. Age doesn’t matter. The ability to take of oneself doesn’t matter. The child in each of us doesn’t differentiate these things. Mom will always be Mom.

From earliest necessity, to lifelong desire, we are all united by that in born need to be mothered. I remember a great illustration of this in the phenomenal one hour dramatic episode of Family Ties, “A, My Name is Alex.” On a minimalist theatre style set, Alex Keaton (played by the brilliant Michael J. Fox) revisits different moments in his life as he deals with the death of a friend and the overall meaning of life. He relives a childhood moment of coming home to his mother baking cookies, and taking care of his faked case of the sniffles with some hot cocoa.

He says it was “like walking into a hug” as he wraps his own arms around himself in memory of the feeling. A feeling not entirely gone, for his mother is still his mother even though he’s now a grown-up himself, but as Alex realizes, “That was, that was the sweetest hot chocolate I ever had in my life. I’m never gonna, I’m never going to feel that safe again. That protected.”

You can’t go home again that annoying cliché goes. And just as heartbreakingly, you can’t go back to childhood again either. And as with many kinds of memories, sometimes they are as painful as they are beautiful. Sometimes for the very same reason, painful because they are so beautiful. The “Our Town” syndrome if you will. Even an ordinary day relived hurts too much to recall. But I like to think that it’s worth it, pain and all.

While a hermit may never have to worry about losing love, and experiencing the hurt that goes with it, that’s only because he never had it to begin with. I think that would be the ultimate pain. So back to celebrating life, the good, the here and now, aiming to do so without worry or fretting about tomorrow. Living in each moment, every one of them, and trusting that you’ll be OK. Everything will be alright, just like Mom always says.

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