THINKING ABOUT LOVE - MOTHER LOVE
This blog was the subject of a Facebook Live stream video, which you can find here.
To understand why so many of us (and our mothers) are or were starved for love we need to understand what MOTHER LOVE was like when children were considered precious gifts of the earth, and why mother love has been debased for too many years.
Here is a thumbnail version of my view of world history. When humanity was young, we communicated through feelings, not words. As we evolved, we began to think, then talk. Our earliest societies were matriarchies, mother and child centered. These lasted for thousands of years and there are remnants of them all over the world. In matriarchy women were considered sacred and magical because they could create new life, feed, nurture, and care for children so they could grow and thrive.
For reasons I will discuss another time man came to dominance and established patriarchies. In patriarchy everything that reminded people of the power women once had was destroyed as much as possible. The attributes admired in woman centered times became debased in patriarchal society.
What are the qualities a person needs to be a good mother?
You need patience, perception, understanding, acceptance, and the ability to nurture. Any of you who have spent time around a child know that you must be patient. An infant move at his or her own speed. They want to eat when they are hungry, sleep when they are tired, be held when they feel uncomfortable in any way. They do not know or care about the schedule their parents think they must follow.
An infant cannot tell you what they need or want in words. You must be perceptive enough to learn to interpret their movements, their expression, their cries, and to respond sensibly to what they need.
You need to be understanding about the needs of a child to care for them appropriately depending on the child’s nature.
You need to be accepting of the changes this new life is making in your former life. Then you need to accept that this new being is not a mini-me but his or her own being, and one who could be quite different from you.
A good mother or father, grandmother or grandfather, aunt, uncle, foster parent, adoptive parent needs to be willing to learn how to nurture this tiny being so they can survive, grow and, with luck, become a loving, decent human being.
Nurturing simply means caring for and encouraging the growth and development of someone or something. Sounds simple, but is it?
To care for someone else means you need to give up some of the time and energy you are used to having for yourself.
In early patriarchal times women were tied to hearth and home by necessity. Few women had the opportunity for independence, adventure or acquiring wealth and power. They depended upon man to care for them and their children.
Children have not had an easy time of it in patriarchal history. Why? Because they were considered the property of the father, and fathers could and did do anything they wanted to them: beat them, berate them, abuse them in all ways, even sell them. Good mothers tried to protect their children. However, since they were also considered the property of the man, they were often limited in what they could do.
Throughout these thousands of years there have been decent fathers and mothers who tried to raise their children with love, but love was often mixed with severe punishments in the name of making children grow up to fit the rules of this man-centered society.
In the last few hundred years or so some things began to change for women in some countries, although not in many others. Women could work, acquire wealth and power and do almost everything a man could do until they reached the “glass ceiling” that is cracking but still in place.
At the same time, women could also become mothers, or not, and some men decided they wanted to step into the nurturing role. While these are all positive changes, they have also caused a lot of confusion, and our parents like us have had to try to figure it out. Women and some men have tried to have it all and have found that is difficult to achieve. If you want a successful career and children, something is not going to get the energy it should. Often this has been the children. So, they grow up feeling they have never had the love all infants yearn for.
Love-starved adults raise love-starved children. It is difficult to give what you have not received. Unfortunately, that is the kind of mother love many of us have experienced. To fit into modern society whether you wear a male or female body you are expected to be ambitious, aggressive, logical, goal-oriented and focused on achieving as much wealth and power as you possible could.
Let us examine the different qualities mothers were expected to have in mother centered and father centered society. In the former: patience, perception, understanding, acceptance, nurturing. In the latter: ambition, aggression, logic, goal-orientation and focus on greed. It is difficult to have enough love to give a child if you are trying to foster the second set of qualities.
An ambitious person just does not have a lot of patience. An aggressive person often lacks acceptance. A logical person is not comfortable with their perceptions. A goal-oriented person does not have the time to understand the needs of someone else. A greedy person lacks the heart to give whole-hearted nurturing.
All the qualities you need to raise a healthy, loving child have been reduced in value in the society in which we live. Some mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other caretakers have ignored what society has taught them. They have managed either through luck, natural wisdom or by doing enough work on themselves to be loving nurturers. I am sure some of you were raised by them. I am sure some of you have raised your children in that way. And I salute all of us who have tried our best to return mother love to the magical, sacred place it once occupied. The more we can do this, the better people we will raise, and the more balanced world we will create.