Wire Mother, Cloth Mother, Mothering Mother
Anybody can get knocked up
When I read about the “wire mother/cloth mother” experiment in high school, I nearly burst into tears. I had a wire mother. I found cloth mothers when and where I could. Mostly I raised myself, guessing at what normal must look like.
My mother was living proof that just about any woman can get knocked up but mothering is not available to everyone.
I was fully an adult before I started finding mothering mothers. Some of them were men. That shouldn’t surprise anybody. It’s silly to think of a man that “mothers” as being in touch with his feminine side. Mothering is something that most humans are capable of.
There’s an old saw that “fathering” takes ten minutes and “mothering” takes a lifetime.
My own journey through motherhood wasn’t easy. I was making up a lot of stuff, picking up tips from women’s magazines and inferences from television shows. Love wasn’t a problem. I loved my daughter more than my own life and I still do. I got overwhelmed sometimes. I felt I wasn’t cut out for it. Later I learned that nobody is. It’s not something you get cut out for. It’s something you are supposed to learn from your own mother. Nice work if you can get it.
What I finally figured out was that motherhood was a loving relationship like any other. Yes, one of you is a trifle immature, but that hardly matters. Love is love. When I figured that out — that there was no mysticism or mystery involved, that there was no golden backdrop or soft focus — then everything improved. I got way better at mothering. I loved that little person and I did know how to love people.
How to love people
It’s pretty simple when you think about it. It’s all the stuff you want to do. Once you figure out there isn’t a supernatural intangible bond, then mothering isn’t hard. Want a hug? I love hugging you. Want something to eat? I know you like this thing and not that. (No variety of squash need apply.) I like making you smile. I love making you laugh. I want you to sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.
I love reading you stories (Not Cinderella. I liked it as a child but as an adult, I could see it was a story about a girl whose problems were solved by a boyfriend and a new dress. I read it aloud once and after that, it went in the trash.) I didn’t read Winnie the Poo as a child or Dr. Seusse. We discovered them together.
Fortunately, I had a daughter that made mothering pretty easy — after I figured it out.
These days all the women in my family who managed to produce offspring get together for dinner. Not on Mother’s Day. All the restaurants are crammed and none of us is going to cook! But a few days later after all the other mothers have been celebrated we pick an evening and get together for gossip, laughter, politics (always!) and food. It’s not sentimental. There’s no mystical golden glow. We enjoy each other’s company.
We know how to love and that’s all you need.