Once upon a time, I wrote a book of letters to a young mother-to-be (not one of my daughters, just to keep the record straight).
I never really put any energy into getting the collection published. I was always too busy with other things.
But some of the letters spring to mind occasionally.
Here's one of the ones that came back into my mind just now:
November 9, 2005.
There's something I’ve had in my mind for some time, and just haven’t managed to get around to writing to you about…
It’s this: I have a notion that there is very seldom much danger that any woman who is a mother will ever wind up with a really swelled head about how great she (supposedly) is. Which is a good thing, in my view… I think some men (perhaps quite a few, even) have rather overblown notions about their greatness. A little humility can be a very good thing for all of us, I think…
Why do I think women have a tendency toward modesty?
Because our children keep us humble…
If, once in a while, we happen to get a slightly inflated sense of our own importance (this can happen to all of us, from time to time), along comes one of our children to cut us right back down to size.
They certainly have no illusions about how great we are. They (and our partners, of course) have seen us exhausted, harried, scowling – witchy, even! They’ve been on the receiving end of our bad moods, neuroses, impatience, and our all-too-numerous imperfections – and this is probably a good thing. I reckon the world has already seen enough grandiose characters who make lots and lots of money, doing lots and lots of damage to other people and the planet. High fliers whose contributions to humanity are, shall we say, less than entirely laudable.
Best, I think, if we all keep our feet firmly planted on the ground – keeping the world around us as sane and safe and healthy as possible – and aiming all the while, maybe, as mothers, to raise children who will be able to love and respect and appreciate us as mothers…and not feel the need for years and years of therapy to recover from our (mis)treatment of them.
I’m remembering Mother Duck again. She just quietly and calmly goes about the business of raising her brood so they can go out into the world and be reasonable grown-up ducks – generation after generation after generation…