Motherhood – personal thoughts

“Motherhood is a lifetime of growing and loving, crying and laughing…with the heart of a warrior.”

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A WWII Navy Veteran who was a medic on Iwo Jima, treating Marines on the beaches shared with me the intense life and death decisions he faced when he was “sorting out” who was well enough to go to the ships and who needed morphine.  “…and do you know who they call out for when they’re dying?” he asked.  “God?” I guessed.  “No.  Their mothers.”

On this Mother’s Day, I reflect on my mother who raised me.  She went to High School in the 1950’s and she was a “good girl.”  I’m not kidding.  She was involved in Redfeathers, Debate, and many other school-related supportive activities.  She grew up with solid, dependable parents in a nuclear family.  She had dreams and anticipation about her future that looked much different than the reality she was to live.  The financial stress, conflict, alcoholism, mental-health problems, and drug-addicted family members that were to cross her path or become rooted in her life took her into a new and different direction.  My mother has stepped up and taken care of some of her grandchildren – 5 at a time for a couple of years.  She took care of her mother for over 6 years as she suffered Alzheimer’s Dementia.  She endured the tragic decline of her mother losing touch every day just a little more in their home.  My mother spends a great deal of time with a young granddaughter and they have a very close relationship.  That little girl is being given some of the same invisible gifts that she gave to me…loyalty, forgiveness, honesty, and integrity.  For those, I thank you.

I was adopted, so I technically have two mothers, one legal and one genetic.  My biological mother elected to live in a home for unwed mothers and give me up for adoption at the age of 16.  I came into this world with an unbelievable act of selflessness and sacrifice.  I am forever grateful for my life.  For that, I thank you.

As a mother myself, I am filled with gratitude as well as heartache with my relationships with my children.  The most difficult time in my life was when all 5 of them were at the age of leaving home.  I had, what would historically be called a nervous breakdown.  I had no idea how much of what is important to me, the well-being of these people would change who I am at the very core.

I am close to most of my children and see them often.  I am not geographically close to my youngest, the traveller and I miss her.  But the one I think about the most is the daughter who is estranged, or maybe I am estranged.  I wonder every day if there is something I should do.  I’ve made mistakes and lashed out and I’ve written pleas and apologies.  I don’t know if there is an answer, if there will be a reconnection.  There are a lot of hurt feelings and resentments on both sides of the fence.  I just try to exercise restraint of pen and tongue from lashing out in anger or frustration and I pray for God to do for me what I cannot do for myself.  I also pray that this my daughter has peace, joy, love and freedom from fear.  I have 5 grown children, but the resentments and conflict with my oldest daughter tie us painfully together.  I am happy.  I love my mothers and I love my children.  Being a mother doesn’t look like “June Cleaver’s” life very often.  Motherhood is a lifetime of growing and loving, crying and laughing…with the heart of a warrior.  It’s sliding into homeplate…safe and covered with mud.

What I do know is that whether my children are near me or not, we are always connected by a bond that I share with not just one, but two women.

 

We Are All Mad Here…

“Our brain on positive is 31% more effecient than our brain on negative, neutral, or stressed.” – Shawn Achor, Ph. D.

In a world where surrender means to lose and a spiritual realm where surrender means to win, there is no wonder that we are confused.  We want to prosper, so that we can prosper those we care for and that we can live life with meaning, maybe see the world. But there are forces at play that discipline us to make choices or discipline us after we do.  As we go through life, our world becomes enormous and at times seems to shrink to barely fit the area around our skin.  If we could just hold onto that thing. That thing that happens when we know everything is okay.  That feeling of peace and contentment with no pressure, no anxiety and maybe even slight anticipation or joy.

In my search for comfort, being born a very naturally uncomfortable person, I have found answers my friends.  It’s all about perspective and humility.  I will go ahead and re-define humility according to my understanding:  seeing things accurately.  That includes who we are being, what we are contributing, and awareness of the relation to our choices and our value system.  When I can access perspective, humility, then I am neither as good as nor as bad as I have been thinking I am.  Peace begins within and sometimes it’s hard to quiet the noise, sometimes significant exercise prior can help if your mind is too busy.  But if we are not centered in our lives, living from a place of principles, which are not subject to alternate facts, there are consequences that don’t leave the world…or me in a better place.  Time is ticking.

I am a strong proponent of the 5 tenets of Positive Psychology.  They are an excellent place to start:

  1. Keep a journal daily listing 3 things you are grateful for.
  2.  Journal about a positive experience from the past 24 hours.
  3.  Meditate
  4.  Exercise
  5.  Perform a Random Act of Kindness daily

These are simple exercises that help to train your brain to scan the environment for positives, including opportunities. Studies have shown significant changes in mood and productivity when practiced for 21 days.

“Our brain on positive is 31% more efficient than our brain on negative, neutral, or stressed.” – Shawn Achor, Ph.D. For more on Positive Psychology, This link will take you to a Ted Talk by Shawn Achor, Ph.D.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=shawn+achor+ted+talk+happiness+advantage&view=detail&mid=3524ED0383863F940EBC3524ED0383863F940EBC&FORM=VIRE

Beginning Thoughts

A page.  Blank.  Just waiting for me.  I never feel lesser-than or rejected when I’m writing.  I have the voice.  I have the power.  For the moment.  Our words are so powerful, so very powerful.  Even with the attempts of a society to be so loud and busy that we hear mostly back-ground noise…it still affects us.  Like subliminal advertising.  We are bombarded with stimuli constantly.  Busy, busy, busy… Then we start paying people money to help us learn to slow down.  We feast on “self-help” material and then we finish the book and put it back on the shelf.  The problem with that is that our retention ability is so low, that over time…a matter of days if that, the material is a distant memory, any techniques never put into practice.  Why don’t we put them into practice?  That takes time and commitment, maybe even discomfort and likely…slowing down.  Self-discipline with nobody holding a flame to our feet.  Forget it!  I’ll just go read this book over here…and we find another book to read, if we have time, otherwise it’ll have to be on tape.  Busy, busy, busy…

So my words have power.  Your words have power.  How long does that power last?  How long are those particular words kept in your line of vision, your attention?  If I could tell you one thing true today that I believe will be helpful, it would be to take care with your words.  Inherently they have no morality, but we have the ability to craft them into gifts or weapons.  It is our choice. As a therapist and a Life Skills group facilitator, I have helped a lot of people with my chosen words.  However, I can’t count the times I wished I would have chosen silence, restraint of pen and tongue when I did not.  And I pay the price…so I do know the power of words.  They outlive people.

-photo by Anna Cartwright