Much of my work is devoted to exploding the constrictive boundaries that define our modern life. I explode our definitions of romantic love from the limited understanding that love is only “a feeling” or “a knowing” into a much broader conceptualization that understands love as a choice, an act of will, and a continual work-in-progress.
I explode our definition of attraction from the superficial and widespread way our culture defines it in terms of physical appearance to a more compassionate definition that teaches people to see essence instead of image.
I challenge our dominant parenting and educational models to assess how they stunt instead of support the development of a sense of Self.
I expose the truth about transitions, how days like a wedding, that the culture upholds as the happiest day of a person’s life, is actually a profound a life-altering transition that includes death and loss at its core.
Our cultures also squeezes holidays into narrow definitions that make almost everyone feel badly. Let’s take Valentine’s Day, for example. It’s a day to celebrate love, but the culture says it’s only about celebrating people who are in intimate relationships. And it doesn’t stop there: the culture places expectations onto people in intimate relationships to shower each other with “romantic” gifts that prove their love. It’s too much pressure, too much narrow thinking for anyone to shine.
What I see with more clarity every day in my life a counselor, a friend, a wife, a woman, and a mother to two boys is that nobody can shine when we’re asked to contort ourselves into the boxes our culture sets out for us. These boxes have the same two words written on them: normal and should. You should feel madly in love and wildly attracted to your partner all the time. You should celebrate Valentine’s Day with roses and chocolates. You should love every moment of parenting. And if you don’t have children, you’re not normal and you don’t deserve to celebrate Mother’s Day.
It’s like the popularity club we were all exposed to in school extends into the rest of our lives, often in much more subtle and insidious ways. The covert message is that you’re not complete unless you’re part of the club, and that fulfillment and happiness can only occur when you attain all of the externals our culture equates to happiness: the degree, the job, the partner, the body, the face, the clothes, the car, the house, the paycheck, the recognition, the baby. These expectations and injunctions leave much shame in their wake.
So today I want to explode open our limited conception of Mother’s Day.
The cultural definition says that Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate literal mothers, meaning someone who has children. And it seems our culture even wants to squeeze this definition into the tightest possible corset: a mother is someone who has given birth to biological children or raised a baby from birth. It doesn’t allow room to celebrate step-children, foster children, or adult children that someone has chosen to mother later in life. It doesn’t allow room for all manifestations of mother, both literal and metaphorical.
For we are all mothers. We mother friends, siblings, animals, creative projects, nieces/nephews and the Earth. We mother patients, clients, employees, readers, and course members. We mother ourselves as we learn, with time, to become our own loving inner mother. And the divine feminine lives in all of us, both male and female. It’s the slow, creative, receptive energy that pulses like a great moon through the invisible veins of our lives. She need us and we need her, now more than ever.
For today, let’s acknowledge some of the ways that we mother and are mothered; the ways the sacred feminine informs our lives. I’ll begin:
I am mother to my little cat, reveling in the great purrs that emanate through my chest as she sleeps on me at night, and she is mother to me.
I am mother to this land, caring for it as I would for any precious living thing, and she mothers me.
I am mother to my circle of soul-sisters, holding them through all of their sorrows and joys, just as they hold and mother me.
I am mother to my work, to the creative spirit that enters the channel of my being on wings of inspiration and asks only one thing: that I open, trust, and release it back into the world.
I am mother to my clients, seeing them through eyes of love and wholeness that, over time, help them to see themselves the same way.
I mother my two boys, a privilege for which I’m grateful daily.
I mother my husband, nurturing his true nature just as he mothers and nurtures mine.
For today, see if you can let go of the “shoulds”. Let go of everything the culture says this day is about and seek to find your own meaning, your own definition, and your own way of celebrating. It can be challenging, yes, when we’ve been conditioned to see it through one lens and that way is reinforced everywhere, but it’s a lot easier when you turn off your computer, log off of social media, and turn inward to find your own center of Self.
Then, emanating outward from inwardness, celebrate the ways the feminine lives inside of you: your creativity; your places of being, stillness, and silence; the slow, mercurial, moonlike place of timeless wisdom that can only be met when you spiral into the labyrinth of Self and meet the you of you sitting in the center in serenity.
Celebrate each way that the Great Mother manifests in your life: from the sacred temple of your body to your connection to loved ones. And consider how you are both mother and are mothered. Write them down, share them in the comments, and embrace this day as an opportunity to name and connect to the divine Mother that lives inside of you and all life.