I’m a little unconventional and sometimes just a wee rebellious (aren’t we all).
Today is Mother’s Day and has been in the US for about 100 years. I notice it never occurs to me to actually plan on writing about the current season or holiday or special day that everyone is celebrating just because everyone is doing it.
As you know, I go with the thought I’ve noticed creating stress, the one inviting inquiry at the moment.
Today, there was a lot of morning commentary on this day called Mother’s Day, it turns out, that it became the topic of what this mind began thinking about!
I personally haven’t wanted brunch, gifts or “happy mother’s day” greeting cards as a mother. I love that life brings me into regular contact with my children (now young adults) but more importantly with mothering, whether my kids are here or not.
I found out something interesting today, when my husband started reading out loud to me about the history of mother’s day from his laptop.
Anna Jarvis, who was honoring her mother at the memorial of her mother’s death during this time of year in the early 1900s, was responsible for submitting the day as an official holiday in the United States.
A decade later, she was jailed for disturbing the peace at a candy factory churning out “mother’s day” products. She disliked the commercialization. She considered the way the holiday had gone to be missing the entire point.
Intrigued, I looked up the word “mother” and the origins of the old word.
It’s very old. It sounds similar in many languages.
It comes from “mater” in Latin. The physical world of matter. Giving birth to the physical.
A “mat” is a woven collection of reeds and plants from the earth. Made of the physical matter of ‘mother/matter’ earth.
Inquiry, investigation, clarity, consciousness about “mother” and what it means…
…this interests me.
What is “mother”? What are my thoughts, images and ideas about mother?
There’s the mother we experienced as children, the ideal mothering we’ve imagined, the mothering we ourselves have done (and you can be any gender or age reading this, and if you’ve ever tended to anything or brought anything to life in physical form, then you’ve mothered it in some way).
I love how Byron Katie mentions from time to time that she did The Work on her own mother for 3 years daily. Or, maybe it was one year. A long time.
Then, Roxann, Katie’s daughter mentioned that she, too, did The Work on her mother for 3 years.
The mother of our pasts, the mother in our minds, the mother we remember, the mother who hurt our feelings, the mother we’re angry with, but even the mother we appreciated and loved so very much and learned so much from (we can keep the good-feeling stories if we like them, or not) or the mother who is absent.
This morning as I listened and sat in meditation, I had the thought “I have a mother” and “I am a mother”.
And then the question “Is it true?”
Well, er….yeah. I mean, what are you talking about? Of course it’s true!
Except…right now in my quiet meditation space in a living room with the sounds of many birds singing outside and an occasional car noise like a motor, or a door closing…
….I “have” a mother….I am a mother….
I notice I can’t know this is true when it comes to the physical form of “my” mother, or of “my” children. None of those are present (except in my mind). My thoughts see these characters (my mother, my son, my daughter) all busy living their lives doing what they do in different physical locations in the “material” mother world.
And I’m loving this quiet morning here, so beautiful. Wind chimes now. Silence. A bowl of strawberries.
Oh look, it’s deciding to write.
I have a mother. I don’t have a mother. Are either of these true?
No. I am completely and fully and entirely supported in every way. Physically nourished. Clothing. Lovely sweater wrapped around me. A last-minute brand new client unexpectedly added on this morning who was so sweet. Sacred texts. Silence. Being left alone. Writing. Cool clear water from a hand made glass. Inquiry. Mind.
Surrounded by “matter” mother. SURROUNDED.
I have a mother–true?
I don’t have a mother–true?
I am a mother–true?
In my past, yes. In my heart and mind, yes. In this moment mothering is happening, yes.
It all only depends on what I’m perceiving, the story I’m telling, the proof I’m aware of, the images being conjured up.
I notice what happens when I have thoughts about mother’s absence or the ideal mother who should have been or my own mothering that should have been different….
….only then am I disturbed.
And what happens when I believe the mothering I received could have been better, (or could have been worse)? When I believe something about mother should be different, whether now or before or later?
Suffering, anger, sadness, grief, longing.
When I believe I have a mother: images and thoughts. The good-feeling memories, the troubled ones that hurt. Heart-break sometimes.
When I believe I don’t have a mother: anger, furious, small, powerless, abandoned. Images of being a victim.
When I believe I AM a mother: images of my children and cradling them when they were babies all the way to images of them as adults and astonished at how it all changes and morphs.
Only if I believe I am a mother and that means (fill in the blank with something stressful) do I become upset.
What happens when I don’t have any thought that I have a mother, I don’t have a mother, or that I am a mother?
It almost seems funny.
I can’t prove these are true in this moment. I can tell all kinds of stories about giving birth, or being a child. They are from the past.
I guess to be here on planet earth in a body, I needed a mother human to give birth to me…but I remember nothing about that birth.
This physical body is evidence I had a mother. But I have one right now?
Hmmm. Don’t see the one in my imagination. Not here today in the living room.
If physical body is the proof, then I look around in this moment.
None of those imagined characters are here.
However. It’s true I see matter everywhere. I’m sitting on it, surrounded by it, infused with it, hearing it make noise, seeing shapes and sizes and colors, feeling this body pulsating, a brown cushion lying on its side on the couch.
How do I react when I believe thoughts about mother? What happens when I have a mother, or I don’t have one, or I am one? Mind jumps all over the places, looking. Showing images. Running like a little machine.
Who would I be without one single stressful story of mother? Who would I be without the belief that I had a mother, I have a mother, I don’t have a mother, I AM a mother?
No beliefs that shout with suffering cries: “mother should, I should, I want, mother wants, I need, mother needs, I am, mother is, I never want, mother never wants”…..?
Who would I be right now in the presence of “mother” thoughts without any belief that “mother” should be different than it is?
Mind stops for a sec. It feels spacious. Sort of….magical, just for a tiny moment. Nothing special, but this moment so full, sparkling. Everywhere I look, everything I hear is astonishing. I have no idea what anything means or what anything is for.
Without my conclusions about mother, I’d be massively curious. I’d wonder about mothering itself as a verb.
I’d be mothered. I’d be mothering. Mothering would be me. Mothering would be happening. I’d be mothering my thinking, and my thoughts would be mothering me.
I’d be noticing what’s here and how fascinating the world is right in this moment.
I look up from my writing and out my big picture window into the front yard, and on the street, which often has walkers out in front, there’s a woman and a little girl. They pause as the girl does a handstand. Then they continue out of sight.
I chuckle. A little theater show of possible mother-daughter right in front of me. Mother waiting for child, a moment in time. Birds tweeting still. Leaves rustling.
I consider my history and all those images I’ve fought and inquiry I’ve brought forward about mother and what should or should not have happened, and what should or should not happen in the future, and what I myself should have done in mothering my children, or not done….
….and I notice a stunning sense of gratitude in this moment about all the mothering of the world. All that’s ever happened in my entire life is supported by mothering.
Every. Single. Second.
When I needed to be left alone for my next step in evolution, I was. When I needed to do something by myself for the first time, it was presented to me. When I needed to serve constantly and understand how to do that without suffering, that was in my life (having kids for example).
When I needed to have silence and ease, it was always available (I didn’t always take it).
When I needed a person to be mothering to me, there were countless. When I need me to be a mother to myself or others, it came forth.
Except my in my mind, mothering is here.
What “matters” is here.
Could this all be just as true?
And when I think it isn’t, I can investigate.
I realize suddenly in this writing, that I am a mother, even in this moment where no children appear to be present.
I am a mother in inquiry. We all are.
I am mothering my own thoughts and beliefs, and have been doing this as best I can for many years and many sittings.
I continue holding the mind with loving, mothering energy as long as it’s needed until perhaps it can walk by itself (and it’s OK too if it never can).
I ask Question Four “who would I be?”
I wonder. I find such exciting answers. I connect to the capacity to feel love, unconditional love–the ultimate shining experience of motherness. I am still here, finding the way to let mind rest.
Something called “me” is finding a way back, always, to loving kindness, gratitude, peace.
“When there is fear, pain, confusion or sadness moving in you, do not despair or come to conclusions about yourself. Be honoured that these misunderstood guests, at once both ancient and timeless, weary from a lifetime’s lonely travel, have finally found their home in you. They are children of consciousness one and all, beloved children of yourself, deserving of the deepest respect and friendship. Offer them the deep rest of yourself, and let them warm their toes by your raging fire…” ~ Jeff Foster
Thank you for The Work of Byron Katie for all the mothering it’s done for me. Giving birth to new ways of seeing everything.
P.S. It’s not too late to come to spring retreat and give your heart the gift of nurturing the thoughts that have plagued you about life, or mothering. There’s even a room for you if you need to stay onsite. We begin Wednesday. A perfect mothering gift for yourself. Information here. Or hit reply and ask.