<written several years ago now & just hanging around inside my computer until now>
Motherhood. Talk about a vast topic. Yikes!!
Impossible to really do justice to. I’m not even going to try.
This is just my take on it. A few observations from this little human bean.
(& a very abbreviated one, I might add.)
Off the top, I am a mother. A “Mom.”
In my view, it’s the single best, most fulfilling, most challenging (lifelong) role I’ve ever taken on.
There. I’ve said it.
With apologies to anyone who may find that offensive, dishonest or overly effusive.
It is & has been simply, & always, true for me.
My “children” are adults now (long since).
Motherhood is still the most important role I occupy.
- Yes, I have meaningful, challenging work.
- Yes, I have many awesome friends/acquaintances/colleagues.
- Yes, it’s a great big amazing, entertaining world.
(& yes, I also personally believe we humans are on the fast track to our own likely fairly imminent extinction, also. I write about that, often-ish; there are many items on the topic of "near-term extinction" in this Collections posting.)
Motherhood is still, & always, #1.
Why do we do it?
It’s instinct. A very very very powerful instinct.
Plus, babies are very easy to make (well, less & less easy as the devastation of the planet has proceeded, what with infertility on the rise & all, but … you get my meaning). A highly pleasurable activity that often leads to the children who “are our future,” as we so frequently & platitudinously (i.e., emptily) say.
(Quote: “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian(1906-1945)
How do we mess it up?
Oh dear, let me count the ways.
Or preferably, let us not.
So many of us are not really grown-ups. The horrors & mistakes we visit upon our innocent offspring are too painful & numerous to go into.
After all, we bring every single one of our own neuroses to the task! We pour out the vast complicated mix of our personal genetic heritage + our own life experiences (nature & nurture) on these little people we co-create.
We ourselves don’t really “grow up” until much too late. (Many-many, far too many, apparently never do! 🙁)
Some parents seem to do a really, really lovely peachy bang-up job. 🙂 🙂
Alas, too few, too few, all too few. 🙁
… pause …
Hmmm. I see I promised “personal” here, yet I’ve gone very impersonal. Re-calibration time.
My own little life
In late adolescence/early adulthood, I had absolutely zero interest in babies. My own, or anyone else’s (well, I was terrifically fond of my nieces & nephews, of course).
In my mid-20s, the urge to reproduce came over me with tsunami-like force.
I had a “career,” as they say ... though to me it was merely a job, a means to an end. (It wasn’t exactly fun. Challenging, yes; fun, no. Simply buckets of bureaucratic bullshit. Ugh.)
The man who was the other half of a (then healthy) marriage & I were agreed: I would “stay home” with our children. I did. Society was shockingly patronizing to women like me then (the early 1980s) – but I/we were firm about what we thought was important.
I loved motherhood! I was a happy stay-at-home "housewife/homemaker." While my kids were still very young, I dove into an ever-varying, ever-increasing round of community volunteer work.
Then, detected a calling to environmental work around the time James Hansen revealed that climate change looked to be a REALLY big problem for Earthlings … & plunged in deeply.
The marriage went south fast (environmental activism implicated? Hmmmm. As they say, it’s complicated), & came to a pretty abrupt end.
Joint custody of 2 young teen-agers ensued.
Life went on … but the marriage break-up, as they say, changed everything.
Being a half-time Mom (suddenly) resulted in some odd & long-lasting impacts/consequences/implications for me. I’d say it damaged my equilibrium & performance as a mother. It threw me off – with reverberations still rumbling, these many years later.
(As I’ve been known to say elsewhere, a divorce is a bit like a war. No one emerges from war unscathed. War wounds go deep.)
The view from here, now?
Motherhood is still # 1.
Environmental activism is something a little akin to motherhood, I suppose. 30 or so years of same have led me to some inescapable conclusions.
# 1. Patriarchy Ruined Everything
Patriarchy ruined people, who ruined/are ruining the Earth. It has been damaging women for thousands of years. Damaging men even more, if this is possible (& I believe it is!). Patriarchy & hierarchy go hand in hand. Patriarchy/hierarchy between them led to mucked-up culture/civilization, mucked-up religion(s), planetary destruction. Etc. (or it may be that religion instituted patriarchy. Seems entirely likely. Chicken & egg scenario?? For lots of musings about patriarchy, check out this posting.)
Whatever. There’s no smoking gun handy just now, is there? So, we speculate.
In my view (hindsight is ever so helpful)
- Cooperation (all of them, you will note, circular processes or phenomena)
& no one “lording” it over anyone else
are the things that might have led humanity to some place we’d actually have liked to go.
We have a broken Earth (carcinogenic/toxic air, water & soils; climate chaos coming soon, if it hasn’t already, & I’m near-certain it has, to a town near YOU)
& while some still believe we can pull this nasty mess "out of the fire" (many still claim so, publicly, at any rate)
I am unapologetically not one of them.
# 2. Motherhood trumps everything
The love-loyalty-passion-caring one feels for one’s children are deep, primal – impossible to really describe/articulate/explain.
Albert Einstein is said to have had a sign over his desk at Princeton that said
“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”
How right he was!
I only wish we humans had grasped this way back when … when it might have made a difference.
But that is going back an impossibly long long long long time, & now … well, it is simply too late for our dreamy optimistic & naïve hopes & dreams to pull an exponentially runaway train out of the fire. The problems are exponential, & as Guy McPherson (the Nature Bats Last guy, & the person from whom I first heard the term “near-term extinction” An interesting recent post about him can be found here) says, human beings have just never quite grasped the exponential function.
p.s. I no doubt risk seriously annoying someone with this remark, but so be it. I stand by it. I just do not/cannot/will never buy that women/females would ever have “unleashed” the atom. Leading to untold planetary damage & destruction.
Nossir. Just can’t buy it.
Most women (not all, of course, not all; exceptions to every rule, & all that; believe me, I know!) generally think a little more long-term. Those babies we carry around for 9 months? They wire us to think a little farther down the road than the next orgasm, the next (supposed) “triumph” of whatever sort we may characterize as triumph, victory, coup, achievement… whatever, in our absurd self-absorption in games of “Mine is bigger than yours” in its many-many-many (oh-so-numerous, oh-so-tiresome) manifestations.
p.p.s. in the face of the distinct probability that our species may not be around for too awfully much longer (& rather suspecting there are going to be some ugly, difficult & challenging moments ahead for all of us, in the days/months/years ahead; hey, I’m really trying to be kinda understated & diplomatic here), this may (it strikes me, anyway) put a slightly different face on the concept/experience/wisdom of new parenthood at this unique juncture in the history of our species.
More than that simple primal instinct now required, perhaps?? Lots of rational aforethought is likely a pretty darn good idea at this point. We need to apply our heads, our good minds, to this, now. Not just leave it up to that very primal blind instinct. Just my own opinion, of course...
** previous postings that also addressed this topic
- Thinking Like a Grandmother <posted Jan./11>
- What Do We Do Now? <posted Nov. 24/14>
- Motherhood/Parenthood (in the face of NTE) <posted Nov. 30/14>
** I don't just write about "doom." I also write about gratitude, & walking, & Nature. Canoe trips. Etc. etc. We may be toast (in my opinion), but for now, we're still here. That's worth celebrating! (Grief comes into it too, of course. Gratitude & grief are closely aligned, actually. Several postings about grief here. Also, quotations about it here) & of course, truth.
“Life is a gift,” Baker says. “Gratitude for what remains is more helpful than resentment for what was lost. Ultimately, I came to understand that these days are wicked short and terribly beautiful. All I’ve got is this one breath, and if I’m lucky, I get another.” Sam Baker