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A Basically Good Enough Mom

 

The classic instruction to "regard all beings as your mother" or the realization that you've lived through so many lifetimes that every being has been your mother at some point and therefore is worthy of love and respect doesn't work today like it did 2,500 years ago. From the mother side of things, it's easy to feel -- in a culture that asks things like "Are You Mom Enough?" -- that you are failing, that you are an inherently bad parent even as you hold the awareness that you are a basically good being.

 

Time magazine threw hot wax on the "mommy war" construct, making it blaze up in pretty colors and keep flaming long after there was any actual fuel to burn with a headline that asks: Are You Mom Enough?

Thanks to a provocative photo of a mother breast-feeding a preschooler, the subsequent discussion has focused on breast-feeding. But that's a sideshow.

What does it mean to be "mom enough?"Are there degrees of "mom"ness?

In ancient times, "mother" was a useful concept in teaching. Everyone knew what a mother was and that she was indisputably good. Now you could debate endlessly whether the term goes to the originator of the genetic material, the body that grows a baby, the one who is legally responsible for it, the one who cares for it, and whether the mom can be a man.
And that's even before we get to part about "enough."

So the classic instruction to "regard all beings as your mother" or the realization that you've lived through so many lifetimes that every being has been your mother at some point and therefore is worthy of love and respect doesn't work today like it did 2,500 years ago. If you didn't feel cared for or nurtured by your "mother," you might want to envision all beings as your cat instead. Our love for our cats is far less conflicted than our feelings about our mothers.

From the mother side of things, it's easy to feel -- in a culture that asks things like "Are You Mom Enough?" -- that you are failing, that you are an inherently bad parent even as you hold the awareness that you are a basically good being.

What to do?

Try this:

Meditate. Settle in. Bring your attention to your heart center.. Visualize your child or your mother, at any stage of life that presents itself. Note what you note -- and let it go. Let go of the jammy hands, the fussing, the magenta hair, the questions, the silence, the demands for attention or that you go away. Let go of worries about the future or their grades or their weight or their friends. Note the things you adore and the things that irritate and let them go. Keep peeling off layers of self and social constructs until there's nothing there but your two warm hearts, nothing but the wish for this being to be happy --without holding onto any definition of what that means, what would make them happy. Or you happy. Only the wish.

That's the pure unconditional love all beings deserve. And if you can touch it, then the next time they call/don't call/complain/whateversetsyouoff, see if you can respond from that place, not the place that tells you what you should do.

And if that doesn't work, regard all beings as a cow does its calf. Or as you do your cat.

Happy Mother's Day, all, whether you are one in this lifetime or not.

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Comments

more than enough

Great piece. "Keep peeling off layers of self and social constructs until there's nothing there but your two warm hearts" reminds me of looking into Sam's eyes just after his arrival and knowing that I was falling in love for the third time. Life is a constant undressing, getting used to wearing those naked breasts wherever one goes.

really helpful

I struggle with the "everyone's been my mother" thing, because if that's true, I'm not in a Buddhaverse but a hell realm. So thanks for your suggestions about the cow & calf, I'm going to work with it.

or your cat

regard all beings as your cats, in need of affection and care.

wonderful

I think of mother as "first teacher" that helps to create space.
Is my teacher enough? and i know (when i had cats) that they were enough.
more than enough.
My mom the cat. i love it.

AND here's a cat.
thanks Nancy!

mother = first teacher

I love THAT.

and a cat.

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