Mother's Day is just around the corner, and for many people, this is a very powerful day. We all have mothers, and many of us are mothers. Honoring the woman who gave birth to us, who carried us inside her and brought us into this world is something that speaks to a deep part of us.
But, we will not all be mothers. Some of us are men, some are not inclined to parenthood, either through choice or biology. Some, may no longer have children among the living, and still others might no longer be in the role of mother to their children. Sometimes, we don't really connect with the mothering role.
Often, when we speak of mothers, we speak of our bloodlines. While people can be unaware of their birth mother, often the mother's line is the one that is known further and with more certainty. When a child is born the mother is obvious, the father might not be.
But mothering is so much more than just where our blood comes from (although I am in no way denying that is a very strong spiritual connection). As many families have shown, the person who fills the role of mother might not be the biological mother of a child. Step-mothers, adoptive mothers, fathers, grandparents, and friends often step into that role of mother. As many have said, it can take a tribe to raise a child.
So what defines motherhood? When we speak of the archetype of the mother, we often talk of birthing and nurturing new creations, whether those are children, ideas or projects. I think there is also a definite sense of teaching, though at a much more basic level than the teaching done by a Crone. Mother's teach us how to interpret and survive in the world. They shelter us when we are afraid, care for us when sick, and make sure our basic needs are met.
It is becoming a more well accepted thing to have a spiritual lineage, as well as a bloodline. I think that this is particularly true within Pagan communities. Many people are drawn to and connected with cultures and people who are in no way blood-connected to them. These connections are often undeniable. They are lifelong, and they are deep.
And I think that the role of motherhood enters into the spiritual role. We all pass through periods of infancy in our practice. When we are learning a brand new thing or entering into a new phase of our life. And we often find guides and mentors, people who serve in the mother's role as we become something new.
These people will often hold a special place in our hearts, forever. They were there when we needed them most. They helped us find our way when we had nothing, and they made sure that we avoided the most dangerous mistakes. They mothered us, and helped us grow until we could navigate on our own.
This is a role that was disappearing for a while, as the trend went from Coven/group work to solitary paths. But I see it reemerging, often in the guise of lifecoach or mentor. These people aren't just teachers, they don't just give you information and let you do with it what you will, they take you into their lives, they nurture you and they do their best to see you succeed.
This isn't a role that needs to be paid, although there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either! It isn't always an intense connection or long association. Sometimes, we fill this mothering role in ways that seem tiny to us, but are huge to other people.
The modern age has us so very disconnected, in many ways. We are like infants, laying alone in our beds, crying out for attention, because we are so very lonely. And sometimes, all it takes is a soft word, a brief touch, a familiar face, and all is right in our world. We can be that person to someone else, when we take the time to care.
Caring can be listening, just being there when someone needs to vent. It can be posting a picture to cheer someone up, when they are having a bad day. It can be giving someone a shoulder to cry on.
Mothering isn't always making the hurt go away, sometimes it's letting people trip and fall and encouraging them to get back up and try again, knowing they may fall again! Growth comes through making mistakes...and learning from them. If we don't make those mistakes, we never push ourselves to be more than we were.
I used to think a lot about legacy, about what I would leave behind when I was gone from this world. It's one of the things that drew me into being a writer. Books linger, they keep a part of us alive, long after we are gone. But so do much more ephemeral things!
When we touch someone else's life, we become part of their story. A part of us becomes entwined with them. When we nurture someone, we impact their life. We have helped them change, and become part of that change. We are now connected to them, even if neither of us are consciously aware of it.
I often say that you never know what will deeply move other people. It might be one single sentence you said, that you didn't even remember saying. But it might sit so deeply with someone else that they remember it for decades.
These are the things that make up our own spiritual legacy! These little pieces of ourselves that we have shared and given to help other people in their journey. These are the ways we pass our essence down through the ages, so that generations from now, a thought we once voiced will be repeated, or an act we did will be remembered in story or song.
This is how we mother, not only each other, but the human race in general. When we work to nurture our fellow beings, to nurture the world we live in, to nurture the potential of all who are yet to come, this is the legacy we leave in this world. And it isn't just about the future.
Every time we do something to lift another person up, everyone's life is made better. A family works because love binds them together. The mother often fills the role of the heart of the family. We need to live from our heart, to mother the world around us, so that everyone can thrive!