Humility, Female: A Musing…

<March 12/10>

My daughter reminded me this morning (and, well, last night too, not to put too fine a point on it) of a theory I’ve had in mind for quite a while now about women & humility.

There are many differences between the sexes, of course, & the quality of humility is just one of them.

I’ve long theorized that women are (usually) more humble than men (broadly speaking, of course; there are also wildly arrogant women & vastly humble men) because motherhood keeps us humble. Actually, our children keep us humble. Any time we might be feeling not too badly about ourselves & our worldly achievements & spiritual growth (such as it is), our children will be sure to remind us of our shortcomings & one of the vast array of grievous mistakes visited upon them in their childhoods. Or maybe only my children do this, who knows?? It’s true on the one hand that I’m not particularly crazy about being reminded so frequently of my yawning imperfectabilities as a person & mother; however, on the other, I am in general pleased that my relationships with my daughters are close enough that they feel comfortable telling me I’m definitely not ready for any halos just yet.

On the whole, I think, humility is to be celebrated. As Elizabeth Lesser points out so brilliantly (with credit to clown Wavy Gravy) in the not-to-be-missed Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, we are all, after all, just “bozos on the bus.” However grand may be our worldly achievements, we all have faults & problems & neuroses, & can all be royal pains in the neck at times. Is it not so?? (My blog posting “We are ALL Impossible” speaks to this.)

Back to the incident this morning: I’d stayed overnight at my daughter’s apartment & this morning walked with her over to her office so we could have a few minutes’ chatting time together. Apropos of something she’d just said, I told her about Joanna Macy’s suggestion in World as Lover, World as Self – Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal that a useful tactic for helping one to feel compassion for others is to look at each person we meet & imagine her (or him) to have been our mother in a previous lifetime. Bear in mind here, I had annoyed my daughter the night before & she had let me know this in no uncertain terms.

When I told her the Joanna Macy suggestion, she replied without skipping a beat, “That would make me even grumpier!” at which, of course, I burst out laughing.

I’m pretty sure she loves me as much as any daughter loves any mother – but it sure is a case of tough love sometimes!!

Ah well. I do love that my daughters & I laugh a lot when we hang out together. And I’m grateful (I think) that they’re so darn good at keeping my feet on the ground…


p.s. Posts on this blog about Lesser’s book are

‘Quote for the day’ with this post: “So-called global warming is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy-independent, clean our air and water, improve fuel-efficiency of our vehicles, kickstart 21st century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!” – Chip Giller, founder of