We mothers have a wonderfully precious and truly powerful role to play in the future self-images of our daughters. The truth is, the most effective way to inculcate in our daughters a fighting chance at life-long self-love and empowerment is not in the books we read to them, or the workshops we send them to, or the media we do or do not expose them to, or even the things we tell them, rather it is in the reflection of self-love and empowerment they see in us, their mothers. The model of our own empowerment gives our daughters permission to be powerful. Of course, culture and societal norms mold our view of ourselves as women, but the beliefs and behaviors of our mothers are far more influential.
I usually enjoy setting up a new kitchen, but this has become a joyless and highly charged task. My mother and I each have our own set of kitchen boxes, which means that if there are two cheese graters between us, only one will make it into a cupboard. The other will be put back in a box or given to Goodwill. Each such little decision has the weight of a Middle East negotiation. While her kitchenware is serviceable, I’m a sucker for the high end: All-Clad saucepans and Emile Henry pie dishes. Before long, I’m shaking my head at pretty much everything my mother removes from her San Diego boxes. She takes each rejected item as a personal slight – which in fact it is. I begrudge her even her lightweight bowls, which she can lift easily with her injured hand. Here she is, a fragile old woman barely able to bend down as she peers into a low cupboard, looking for a place where she can share life with her grown daughter. At such a sight my heart should be big, but it’s small, so small that when I see her start stuffing her serving spoons into the same drawer as my own sturdy pieces, lovingly accumulated over the years, it makes me crazy. Suddenly I’m acting out decades of unvoiced anger about my mother’s parenting, which seems to be materializing in the form of her makeshift collection of kitchenware being unpacked into my drawers. When I became a mother myself, I developed a self-righteous sense of superiority to my mother: I was better than my mother, for having successfully picked myself up and dusted myself off, for never having lain in bed for days on end, too blotto to get my child off to school or even to know if it was a school day. By sheer force of will and strength of character, I believed, I had risen above all that she succumbed to and skirted all that I might have inherited. This, of course, is too obnoxiously smug to say in words. So I say it with flatware.
Why should she dress in a cap and gown and sweat in the sun, when her mother was not there to pose in pictures with her and cheer when her name was called? In her mind, she only saw pictures they would never take, arms around each other, her mother gaining little wrinkles around her eyes from smiling so much.
I want to mother the world, I thought. I have so much love.Then—I have no business being a mother. I am a selfish woman.Then—I can do this. Millions of women have been mothers.Then—I feel very alone. I do not know what I'm capable of.
The "new" Anglo-American feminist theory argues that too little mothering, and, in particular, the absence of mother-son connection, is what engenders both sexism and traditional masculinity in men. (...) This perspective positions mothering as central to feminist politics in its insistence that true and lasting gender equality will occur only when boys are raised as the sons of mothers. As the early feminist script of mother-son connection required the denial of the mother's power and the displacement of her identity as mother, the new perspective affirms the maternal and celebrates mother-son connection. In this, it rewrites the patriarchal and early feminist narrative to give (...) voice and presence to the mother and make mother-son connection central to the redesign of both traditional masculinity and the larger patriarchal culture.
Babies of around one year old are often active by day and wake frequently at night, for no obvious reason. Then a mother can feel desparate for sleep yet equally desparate to comfort her baby when he needs her at night. I have spoken to many mothers who have sacrificed their own sleep, waking up numerous times every night because their babies cried for them. It seems terrible that these hardworking women think of themselves as failures as a result. Surely a mother who has chosen to sacrifice her sleep deserves respect and admiration for her generous mothering.
Suddenly life was good, even glamorous. We were poor but didn’t know it, or maybe we did know, but we didn’t care, because my mother had stopped disappearing into her bedroom. Our apartment building was surrounded by empty lots, which were all that separated us from the ocean. Within a couple of decades, those stretches of undeveloped land – prime coastline real estate –would be built upon, with upscale apartment complexes and million-dollar houses with ocean views. But in 1967, those barren lots were our magnificent private playground. I had a tomboy streak and recruited neighborhood boys onto an ad hoc softball team. Dieter and my mother installed a tetherball pole, which acted as a magnet for kids in the neighborhood. For the first time in years, we were enjoying what felt like a normal, quasi-suburban existence, with us at the center of everything–the popular kids with the endless playground.
When God Created Mothers"When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of "overtime" when the angel appeared and said. "You're doing a lot of fiddling around on this one." And God said, "Have you read the specs on this order?" She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts...all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands." The angel shook her head slowly and said. "Six pairs of hands.... no way." It's not the hands that are causing me problems," God remarked, "it's the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have." That's on the standard model?" asked the angel. God nodded. One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, 'What are you kids doing in there?' when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn't but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say. 'I understand and I love you' without so much as uttering a word." God," said the angel touching his sleeve gently, "Get some rest tomorrow...." I can't," said God, "I'm so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick...can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger...and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower." The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. "It's too soft," she sighed. But tough!" said God excitedly. "You can imagine what this mother can do or endure." Can it think?" Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise," said the Creator. Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. There's a leak," she pronounced. "I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model." It's not a leak," said the Lord, "It's a tear." What's it for?" It's for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride." You are a genius, " said the angel. Somberly, God said, "I didn't put it there.
She closed her eyes, trying to remember the photos that had hung on the walls. She had passed these pictures every day, but now she only remembered them vaguely--her parents on their wedding day, her mother in a garden, her family at Knott's Berry Farm. How had she not memorized them? Or maybe she had once but she was beginning to forget. Did the house smell different because her mother's scent was gone? Or had she just forgotten how her mother smelled?
From her thighs, she gives you lifeAnd how you treat she who gives you lifeShows how much you value the life given to you by the Creator.And from seed to dustThere is ONE soul above all others --That you must always show patience, respect, and trustAnd this woman is your mother.And when your soul departs your bodyAnd your deeds are weighed against the featherThere is only one soul who can save yoursAnd this woman is your mother.And when the heart of the universeAsks her hair and mind,Whether you were gentle and kind to herHer heart will be forced to remain silentAnd her hair will speak freely as a separate entity,Very much like the seaweed in the sea --It will reveal all that it has heard and seen.This woman whose heart has seen yours,First before anybody else in the world,And whose womb had opened the doorFor your eyes to experience light and more --Is your very own MOTHER.So, no matter whether your mother has been cruel,Manipulative, abusive, mentally sick, or simply childishHow you treat her is the ultimate test.If she misguides you, forgive her and show her the right wayWith simple wisdom, gentleness, and kindness.And always remember,That the queen in the Creator's kingdom,Who sits on the throne of all existence,Is exactly the same as in yours.And her name is,THE DIVINE MOTHER.