“We Need Mothers Who …” Mother’s Day All Over the World

Countries and cultures all over the world celebrate Mother in some way.
It may be a healthy way. It may be a distorted, ritualized, or even an unhealthy way.
Perhaps it’s the personal mother who is celebrated. Perhaps it’s the idealized mother who is celebrated. Perhaps the normalized mother. Possibly it’s the essence of Mother we need.

Our mothers have an impact on us as individuals and on us as a society … whatever society we live in. Both consciously and unconsciously, our mothers have an impact on our personal lives, and an impact on the life of our planet.

There is no perfect mother. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. If someone pretends to be perfect, she teaches her children they have to be perfect. Because they never can be perfect, she teaches her children they can never be good enough. She also teaches them there is no process in life or human relationship. The mother who is human – imperfect but a good enough mother in all the ways children most deeply need – teaches her children it is possible to make mistakes and create a repair for the mistakes they’ve made. She does that with them when she makes a mistake. She helps them do that when they make a mistake. This deepens their trust with her, with themselves, with process, and with life itself.

When have you seen that from a mother in public life? From a mother or a father in public life? It is sorely lacking. Especially in these times.

Just as important as that acknowledgment of a mistake and the repair that needs to follow, is the mother who realizes she has made a mistake out of her own wounding, acknowledges it, and gets the help to do her own inner healing work instead of continuing to act out her wounding with her children, family, and others. This deepens her own and her children’s faith in real repair – for their relationship with mother and for their ability to do the same. It is a profound and wonderful role model for everyone in her life who witnesses her in the process of healing inside and out.

When have you seen that from a mother in public life? From a mother? From a father? It is tragically lacking in our world. Especially in these times.

But … I remember a time not long ago, reading about two public figures who did acknowledge – to themselves and apparently to others – that the work they did in the world was an acting out of their defenses against their wounds. It was a good example of the possibility that we may do important work in our outer world, yet it may unconsciously be a way to hold at bay the pain of our wounding as children that is still alive in our inner world.

Gloria Steinem acknowledged that “being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself. You keep trying to fill up this emptiness.”* How courageous! How honest! How real! And what a model for our world. Was anybody listening? Did anybody get it? She was acknowledging out loud that she invested herself in a cause in the outer world to avoid the pain still alive in her inner world.

I once led a workshop called Conscious Activism from the Inside Out on the topic of outer activism as a defense against inner activism. As people explored how they used social and political activism to hold their inner world at bay, I was also helping them realize that it is possible to do the inner healing and also help in the outer world. And that it was of great concern how frenzied and distorted the outer activism can become as a defense against the inner. All we have to do to see an example of that is to look at the political scene in the United States today.

Betty Friedan offered an acknowledgement similar to that of Gloria Steinem in a later edition of The Feminine Mystique. She wrote about her hatred for her mother, and then admitted, “It was easier for me to start the women’s movement than it was to change my own personal life.”

These were the “mothers” of the women’s movement. Their acknowledgments don’t discount the actual good done by and through the women’s movement. But they may explain the roots of some of the harms. Here’s a perfect example of no mother being perfect. But by their taking responsibility for the deep roots of their unconscious intentions, these mothers of the women’s movement … freed themselves to do their inner healing and offered a profound model to those who came after them. Who knows how few or many of the “daughters” and “sons” of the women’s movement welcomed and utilized that model in their own lives and their own activism? This brings to the foreground the understanding that the unconscious intentions of avoiding their own inner pain contributed to the unsustainability of many of the outer successes they achieved.

For example, if each of them had first worked with the young pain of not having choices over their own minds, bodies, hearts, and souls … they would have modeled for all those who worked with them and came after them to do their own inner work and then the outer work.

How many other women have made these acknowledgments? How many men have done the same? How very different our political scene would be today if both women and men did their inner work before bringing their energies to such important arenas in our outer world!

But back to mothers … and a deep hope that more mothers – both in private life and public life – will do their own inner healing work for their own sakes, for the sake of their children, and for the sake of our world.

This is my Mother’s Day wish.

This is my Mother’s Day prayer.

© Judith Barr, 2016.

* from the synopsis for the HBO documentary, “In Her Own Words,” http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/gloria-in-her-own-words/synopsis.html

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD
SAFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Whether we are mothers or not, whether we are activists or not, whether we are men or women, old or young, single or married … we all need to very carefully explore and heal the wounded currents within us that affect our lives, our relationships, our world.

This Mother’s Day, make a commitment to begin that crucial healing journey. Or to take that next big step in it. As you reflect on your own relationship with your mother – past and present – allow yourself to feel whatever arises within you … committing not to act out on those feelings but rather to feel and explore the roots of those feelings. What are the earliest feelings you can recall in relation to your mother? And … when in your here-and-now life do you feel those same feelings? About whom in your here-and-now life do you feel that same way?

When exploring, we may find we need the help of a skilled, caring therapist to truly heal many of our deepest feelings about our mothers. Even to bring into consciousness for healing feelings we can’t remember or don’t consciously connect with our relationship with mother. Commit as well to find that help when you need it.

Whether we are parents or not, we all need to do the inner work necessary to explore and heal our inner wounding…for the sake of our families, our communities, and the children in our world – and the adults they will someday become.

The Most Loving Gift

On this Valentine’s Day –
known as the day of love –
The most loving gift you can give yourself …
is to do your own inner healing work.
The most loving gift you can give your partner …
is to do your own inner healing work.
The most loving gift you can give your children …
is to do your own inner healing work.
The most loving gift you can give your friends …
is to do your own inner healing work.
The most loving gift you can give your country …
is to do your own inner healing work.
The most loving gift you can give your world …
is to do your own inner healing work.

© Judith Barr, 2016

 

On Mother’s Day – The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

As we approach Mother’s Day, it is crucial that we recognize the power that Mother has, the impact that Mother has, the potential effect that Mother has not only on her individual child, but also on the entire world.

William Ross Wallace acknowledged this aptly and poignantly …

“For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.”*

Reflect on the mothers who have been nourishing, supportive, inspiring, honest, kind, compassionate, loving, who have been what I would call “Truth and Love woven together” – mothers who have helped their children become their True Selves.

And reflect on the mothers who – out of their own wounding and the wounding in their cultures – have been less than that, even the opposite. Mothers who have either not protected their children or mothers who have been indifferent, neglectful, or even cruel to their children … often under the guise of their “rights” as mother or “for your own good.”

Ponder the mother whose child became a leader of a country or even an empire. What was the impact of that leader on his or her country? What was the impact on our world? Was the leader damaging to the people, to the earth, to him/herself? Was s/he damaging under the guise of “goodness”? Under the normalization by a culture that accepted such damage and the guise justifying it? Was the culture that of an empire, a country, a business, a family?

As a member of many cultures, we each have the opportunity and the responsibility to affect how our leaders are chosen and how they lead. Are you claiming and acting upon your opportunities and responsibility? And are you doing so in a way that is healthy and woven of Truth and Love?

As a member of many cultures, we each have the opportunity and the responsibility to be a leader in our own way. Are you claiming and acting upon your opportunities and responsibility in your cultures – whether the culture of your family, your school, your church, your workplace, your community …?

Reflect upon how the patriarchal cultures of our world have impacted the experiences of our mothers, their mothers, and the mothers before them. Reflect upon how the individual mother impacts the culture, and the culture impacts the individual mother …and each of her children, and then generations to come. It is a vicious cycle, or a maze as I teach my clients. We need to find our ways out of the vicious cycle … individually and culturally. It takes our doing our personal inner healing work one by one by one. It takes our educating people in our cultures. It takes our reweaving the fabric from the inside out.

Wonder about your own mother. Seek to find, beneath the surface, in the very depths of your being – the impact your mother had on you, on every fiber of your being, on every one you touch … on you as you impact our world.

If you are a mother, wonder about your own mothering. Are there things you can discover about your mothering that you still have a chance to heal – for yourself, for your children … for both of you … and for our world?

*****

It is with Mother that we first have the opportunity to attach, that we first have the opportunity to bond …in healthy ways needed for us to become all we have the potential to be.

It is with Mother that we first have the opportunity to experience in the outer world the essence of the Divine.

If we don’t have a mother with whom we have these crucial experiences … everything else is awry for us until we do our healing. And this impacts not only us, but the world around us and the world as a whole.

As we approach Mother’s Day, let’s go beneath the surface possibilities of the day. Let’s go through the experience deeply and fully – in Truth and Love – discovering and working with what is calling to be healed from the inside out … personally and communally.

© Judith Barr, 2015

*From his poem The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World (published 1865)
http://emp.byui.edu/satterfieldb/quotes/Hand%20that%20rocks%20the%20cradle.html

If We Stay on The Surface . . . We End Up Suffering and Creating More Suffering . . .

Part 3:  A Mother’s Love and Truth

I have been writing about the consequences of our staying on the surface in the outer world and not doing the deep work, each of us in our inner world – the place from which what occurs in the outer world springs.

It seems to be such a difficult thing for people to comprehend and believe the fullness of the effect of inner on outer . . . and to commit to exploring, discovering, working with and healing the inner in order to create a healthier outer world.  As a result, starting in March, I began teaching in relation to a few arenas in our world where the interplay between the inner and outer is more obvious than others. This month’s theme is about the inner and outer aspects of the day created to celebrate motherhood and mothering.

In the United States, we just celebrated Mother’s Day.  Actually, Mother’s Day is worldwide – just not always in May. It is a day with many meanings and intentions to different people. For some it has nothing to do with mother; it is a Hallmark event in that it’s a real money maker – for Hallmark and other card makers, florists, restaurants, and who knows what other businesses.   For many, it does have to do with mother, but it is not the picture perfect event that Hallmark cards and movies portray. To some, it’s a day to be full hearted – to thank mother for her love or to be thanked with genuine appreciation. To some it’s a time to be broken hearted – to grieve that mother never loved them – at the very least, not the way they needed to be loved. Or a day to grieve that their mothering is not seen, felt, acknowledged, appreciated and that they are perhaps forgotten.

For some people Mother’s Day is a day to just “make nice” in the family and pretend, to purposely play “as if.”  For others, it’s a time to live unawares in the illusion and denial that everything’s fine in their idealized “wonderful” family – while the poisons of unhealed wounds are rumbling within – deep in the underground of each individual and deep in the underground of the family circle. Rumbling within and certain to seep out, erupt out, explode out into the family environment, and even from the family out into the world  . . . just like gasses from our earth’s underground seep out, erupt out, and explode out into the world.

There are those for whom Mother’s Day is a day to attempt to repair the wounds that exist between mother and child – as a result of the wounds inevitably passed down from one generation to the next, and finally to their own. Sometimes the repair is successful. Sometimes barely.  Sometimes not at all. This all depends upon how conscious and committed the people involved are in the process of healing and the process of repair – within themselves and with those around them.

Did you ever think about this? About the impact Mother’s Day has on so many people? When you say “Happy Mother’s Day” to someone, do you wonder how it really affects that person? When you don’t say “Happy Mother’s Day” to someone, do you wonder the impact it has?

Nothing is as simple as we try to make it. We are very complex human beings. And if we don’t come to know ourselves – even on a day like Mother’s Day – how are we going to know what we are capable of? On our own?  In relationship with others? On a daily basis?  During important moments of decision?  In challenging times? When we come to a crossroads? When we have crucial choices to make? How are we going to know the best of what we are capable? And create it? How are we going to know the worst, the most destructive of what we are capable? And heal it, prevent it?

If we are not truly conscious of the relationship we have with our mother – not just the one today, not just the one we remember, but the one that is still alive, though perhaps buried deep, within us from so young in our lives that perhaps we didn’t even yet have words or word-thoughts . . .

If we are not deeply aware of the relationship we have and have had with our mother – and the many feelings, reactions, coping mechanisms, defenses we developed in response . . .

If we haven’t worked with our relationships with and responses within us to our mother . . .

How will we really understand how our relationships are with other people in our lives today?  How will we really understand why we have the feelings, reactions, coping mechanisms, defenses we have in our lives today . . . in response to others, in response to ourselves, in response to our calling, in response to life itself?

And how will we find a way to heal what needs to be healed within us to become all that we have the potential to be? How will we find a way to give our gifts to our world and to life?  How will we find a way to truly help in our world . . . rather than helping as a defense?

A mother who is unaware of and disconnected from the experience of and consequences of her own relationship with mother . . . might try to keep us from such an exploration. A connected, loving mother would want us to do such an exploration, would encourage us, and would teach us how. A disconnected mother might not want to know how she may have hurt us unconsciously from her own wounding. A loving mother would want to know and make repair. A disconnected mother might let her children do whatever they want . . . under the guise of love. A disconnected mother might force her children to do what she wants . . . unaware she’s trying to get them to soothe the pain and fear of her own young experience. A truly loving mother would want to join her love with truth and help her children learn how to do the same.  She would want to help her children treat her, each other, others, and themselves well. She would make sure they knew that loving them does not mean condoning or allowing abuse as a mask of love. She would make sure they knew that loving them does not mean punishing, depriving, or abusing them under the guise of love.

A truly loving mother would want to teach her children about their feelings, giving them a safe space to feel and express their feelings, teaching them as they grow how to express their feelings safely and responsibly, how to utilize them for health and healing.

A truly loving mother would want to teach her children about cause and effect, so they can learn from the inside out that their actions have an effect . . . that even their thoughts and feelings have an effect . . . on others and on themselves as well.

A truly loving mother would want to teach her children about positive mutuality, in which there is a positive intention from both people in an interaction . . . in which there is an intention for each to be in love and truth and to find a solution from that joining.

A truly loving mother would do her own inner healing work in order to heal within herself and in order to be able to help her children do the same . . . and in order to help our world do the same.*

© Judith Barr, 2013.

*Almost everything said above about mothers and Mother’s Day could also be said about fathers and Father’s Day.

****

WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR AND OUR WORLD SAFE . . .
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As we wind down from our celebration of Mother’s Day, take some time to reflect on what true “Mother’s love” means . . . and to explore your own relationship with motherhood, your own mother, and, if you have children, your own mothering.

When you were a child, were you given the help and guidance to explore and truly feel your feelings? Were you given the space to reveal when you were hurt by your mother’s (or your father’s) unconscious wounding?  What was your own mother’s reaction to such a revelation? Did she commit to do her own inner healing and to make repair over the hurt she caused? Or did she deny the hurt, and try to defend against the pain both of hurting her own child and the ancient pain within her that led her to hurt you?

Be aware of the feelings that rise within you when you remember your own early experience of mothering and your experience with your mother . . . When in the current day do you feel the same way? And who in your present life is connected with those same feelings? Onto whom in the here-and-now might you be transferring those feelings?

If you are a parent . . . explore how those feelings may affect your feelings about, thoughts about, and actions towards your own young children. What feelings from your childhood might you be transferring onto them? Do you give them the guidance to explore, feel and heal their own feelings, and not to act out on them? And how do you feel when they are hurt by your unconscious wounding ? Do you deny their hurt and defend against your own pain? Or do you make repair and commit to do the inner work necessary to heal those wounds, so it no longer affects your relationship with your child?

The greatest gift a mother can give her child, on Mother’s Day or on any day, is to explore and heal her own inner wounding . . . in order to be able to offer mothering and guidance to her children that comes from the joining of love and truth.