Today is Mother’s Day here in the United States – a day when we traditionally celebrate the amazing women who brought us into the world and helped us navigate it. I would like to expand this celebration to include mothering in general. We can borrow from the UK and rename it “Mothering Sunday” – a day to celebrate all of the mothering energy in our lives.
It was Martha Beck who introduced me to the idea of seeing “mother” as a verb instead of one person, nearly a decade ago in O, The Oprah Magazine. I love this idea, as it means that mothering is available to all people at any time. All of us, no matter our age, still need some mothering sometimes. According to Martha, “you’re being mothered when anyone offers you one or more of the following gifts:
- Acceptance. This is not the anxious adoration of a mother who pins her hopes for happiness on her child’s appearance or achievements. True mothering starts with unconditional love for another person, without demands or expectations.
- Nourishment. Sustenance, comfort and care, whether physical or emotional, are components of real motherhood. Anyone who nurtures you, in body, mind or heart, is mothering you.
- Instruction. Real mothers teach constantly, showing both by example and by explanation what their children must know in order to live well.
- Empowerment. Real mothers are intent on working themselves out of a job, by building in those they mother the courage and confidence needed to become completely independent.”
(Beck, Martha. “Make Your Own Mother”, O, The Oprah Magazine, May 2003.
This means that your pastor, your boss, a bus driver – any random person – can offer you mothering energy. It also means that each of us can consciously choose to spread mothering energy, regardless of our biological possibility of giving birth.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to invite you to play a game with me this week. We’re looking for opportunities to spread mothering energy. The goal is to “mother” whenever you can in a healthy way. I’m not talking about mothering’s close cousins – smothering or over giving. Both of those modes come from an anxious, needy place. Real mothering energy comes from a calm, loving, centered energy. Here are some questions that might spark your imagination:
Acceptance: Can I be at peace with a difficult situation? Can I offer my calm acceptance as a gift to someone in need? Can I offer unconditional love in to my family, friends, or even “enemies”? Can I simply be with what is instead of trying to change it? Can I offer this gift of acceptance to myself?
Nourishment: Is there any opportunity for me to provide care for someone in my life this week? Can I provide a nourishing meal to someone who is too busy to provide one themselves? Who might need some sustenance that I can provide?
Instruction: Can I show through my actions how to live peacefully? Can I react to a conflict or negative situation in a way that allows someone to see an alternate peaceful path?
Empowerment: How can I show my faith in someone I love this week? How can I empower those in my world? How can I act as a mirror to show the very best in those around me?
I’d love to hear how this week goes for you. Please leave a comment with your ideas for spreading mothering energy, or your experience with receiving it. Happy Mother’s Day!