Today is the day we set aside to celebrate mothers. Let me tell you, we certainly are a group that deserves celebration. We form and grow the bodies our children inhabit for a lifetime. Which is just the beginning of it. True? Mothers are the driving force behind how we create who we become as human beings, citizens, heartful people into the rest of our lives. Mothers are not all powerful, but we’re as close to it as anyone can get.
To say that I am grateful to my mom says nothing of what she means to me. Without her, I am not. It’s a biological fact, sure, but it is also an emotional and mental fact, too. She rocked me until my tears stopped falling as a tiny baby, then again as a scrawny little girl, a self-conscious teen, and even now as a full-grown adult person. Then there’s the fact that I am stubbornly me because of my mom. Good, bad, or otherwise I wouldn’t have me any other way. I may not like myself every moment of every day, but I will never apologize for who I am; that would hint at a flaw of my mother’s. She’s never flawed, in my eyes, because my mom is as perfect a mother as I will ever need.
But this is the part where things get complicated. I love my mother dearly, but if she were the only role model I’d ever had as a woman, I wouldn’t be near to who I am. My other mother (some might call her a step) has taught me ways to be that I’d never learn from the woman I call Mom. The way I like to think of it is, if my mother forms the fabric of me, my other mother is the glittery thread shot through it. She adds a special dimension that I’d be a lesser person without.
What’s especially special this Mother’s Day is that my daughter will soon become a mother, too. <3 So along with celebrating my mothers, and my Rachel for making me one, I will soon get to celebrate her as a mother in her own right.
If I have one piece of advice for you, Rachel, it’s this: Don’t try to be “THE perfect mother.” Don’t worry about all those silly, little things parenting books and mother’s groups and friends, family, and even strangers tell you will cause irreparable harm. Most of the time it’s just a load of crap. Love that baby as hard as you can. Nothing, absolutely nothing in this world, is as important as that.
I find it interesting that in the English language we don’t have masculine or feminine words, like other languages do; French and Spanish come immediately to mind. Yet we assign, as a culture, masculine and feminine traits to words. Powerhouse, for example.
As Americans, we attribute maleness to any word related to power. We see it as manly to be powerful. Even 45+ years after Gloria Steinem first took to New York Magazine to chronicle and highlight the growing Women’s Liberation Movement, power is still, in a subconscious and deeply ingrained way, a man’s game. That fact is unfortunate for so many reasons, but let me dive into just this one.
I am, at my very depth, thoughtful. I put more time and effort into consideration of my daily words and actions than some people put into doing their yearly taxes, which is to say, a lot. I am a ruminator, a cow chewing her cud. I think things through thoroughly and honestly and wholeheartedly, so much so that my decision-making is usually a tediously slow process. The upside is that once I’ve made a decision I stand very firmly on it. You could say I’m stubborn, and you would be right, but my stubbornness comes from a position of power. My powerhouse is thoughtfulness.
Another definition of powerhouse is a generating station. In common terms this means the generation of electricity, but I’m going to expand that and say it should mean to generate and distribute whatever individual, unique powers we have. And by power I mean our innate intention, our most powerful and resilient and individually characteristic human quality. Your power is likely how you are described by the people who know you best. Most people have more than one, for sure, but some, like Mother Theresa have one that seems to fill their entire soul.
Here’s why I like this word, powerhouse: it’s a “place” where power is both created and distributed. You make your power and you also send it out into the world. I can’t think of any better way to live, creating and giving away the deepest and most valuable part of who we are. It’s enriching for us, as individuals: When we’re focusing attention on our deepest and most authentic selves we can’t help but grow deeply satisfying lives. But there’s a community component here, too: We’re all a single piece of a giant, Earth-sized puzzle. And if you’re not filling your spot, who is?
We’re all born with certain strengths, certain powers. I am convinced that we are meant to use our powers to support and grow our community, our world really, into its best version, while we grow ourselves. It’s not such a leap to suppose that if we’re all busy growing these rich inner lives that the community would also be gaining the benefit of that wealth, too, is it? And if for no other reason than that, we should take back our power, in aid of our communities. But isn’t it an even better idea to take it back for ourselves?
So tell me, what’s your powerhouse?