Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Nature of Nurture

When I think about mothering and motherhood too many things come to mind I can't address here: all the things I do now for Isabella amplify my appreciation for my mother and put into perspective what's gotten me here to this moment, when I realize and appreciate what it means to be a teacher, (strive to be) a role model, watcher of cognitive development and wiper of nose boogeys (my husband calls our daughter "Booger Butt," so nothing's sacred). Maybe what stands out most about what it means to be a mother is the sense of humor you HAVE to have to do these things and more--that long list of "duties as assigned," which includes everything from talking down a toddler from filching someone else's (cooler) bike, to conferring with teens about their next big steps in life.

It's some kinda learning curve.

While the tough times can be tough, as I am sure they were for my mother and the many mothers I have known, the quality of self revelation rising from the rubble of daily discipline is par none. Every day I have to cultivate patience (and often lose) both with toddler tantrums and with my own inner tantrums (toddlers I guess have the sense to get those emotions out regardless of who's watching). That discipline alone has been a mighty challenge for me, but in the process I'm finding little spots of gold amongst my tarnish: I know I am capable of teaching a little one some of the ins and outs of becoming human, and of rethinking what it means for me to become more humane, more compassionate (to myself and others), and to relish discovering this in the process.

Along with my personal experience of motherhood, though, I find that turning my eye out to others--to the many mothers who have mothered me by example and guidance--opens me up to what I should and should not do, about what's possible when it comes to nurturing in the way we all think mothers should. It doesn't all look and feel the same, and cannot be packaged simply in a Hallmark card (though God Bless it, there are QUITE a few cards out there to honor Mom). Instead of the platitudes I'm cherishing the absolute creativity women bring to the role of mother, the melange of styles. Thank you to all those who have nudged me along--I stand with you in solidarity as we change the world, one little nose wipe at a time.

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