Thursday, 26 May 2011

What is Love?

It is maybe naive of me to think I can tackle this big question in a few sentences in a blog. But it is at the heart of my preoccupations, motherly, and otherwise, so I will. I know many have pondered and will continue pondering on this question - many would probably agree there is a self-lessness component to it. If I love in order to get something then it is not the kind of Love I am thinking about. Yet it is the most common and so human way of loving. We mostly do things for selfish reasons. But we can rise above it too, and experience those rare glimpses of true Love where the light shines and the jewel of our being is revealed. 

I was once in a tram in Zurich, many years ago, feeling quite down and forlorn. I was looking out of the window as the tram was pulling into Stauffacher station. Suddenly something quite inexplicable happened. A man of Asian origin stood on the pavement looking directly into my eyes. It was as if he had been waiting for me. He simply raised his arm and waived at me. Maybe an ordinary scene, maybe a case of mistaken identity. But what happened to me was far from the ordinary, nor could it have been a mistake. His presence evoked in me what I can only describe as an awakening of Love. It felt as if this man knew me through and through. It was as if this man Loved me despite my failings, a Love that was far bigger and enveloping than any love I had experienced in this earthly existence, ever. I felt small, like a child, but utterly safe as if held in the cupped hand of the big Mother. Time was momentarily suspended and expanded at the same time. As I snapped out of it, turning around looking for the man to no avail, I was left with immeasurable joy and happiness that lasted for some time. 

Now what was that?? Over the years I have been lucky to experience something similar a few more times, and these experiences have galvanized me into the journey of becoming. These rare glimpses of true Love are about me not feeling smaller than you or you feeling smaller than me. It is the meeting point of souls, where there is no separation between you and me, we are brothers and sisters. So often I find myself disappointed in myself when I become aware of a lost opportunity for true Love where the pettiness of the me has moved centre stage yet again. Alas I am human. And of course I can't will such moments, I can't actually do it. There is a secret and a subtleness to the awakening of these moments of Love. I am working on staying awake. Will you join me?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Good and Evil Mother

The other day, in a professional capacity, I was asked to consider the possible dynamics between social workers and mothers whose children have been taken away from them. You'll have to excuse me but I got quite emotional on the subject and the claws of the tigress threatened to strike. For imagining that my children could be taken away from me by the state sent chills down my spine. 

But it was also the views of other professional woman (all of them childless) that made me tremble, such as: A mother who truly loves her children could not harm them.  Maternal love is a natural instinct born when the child is born. If a mother does horrific things to her children and the children are taken away from her she is not worthy of any help and support and all contact  between her and her children should stop.  What all of these statements have in common I think is that mothers can be divided between Good Mothers and Evil Mothers. 

I want to scream at this grossly wrong perception. The best advice one of my friends gave me when I was first pregnant was; "If you feel like throwing your child out of the window don't be alarmed. It's normal to feel like that from time to time. It doesn't mean you are a bad mother".  Now of course there is a difference between feeling that way and actually doing what you are feeling but the line is fine and if support is thin then the road to losing control is not far off. I say; invest in research and support of womens' healths; restore pride and empowerment in the birthing process and make excellent women-centred maternity services a priority;  get men and dads more involved; give more and better maternity and paternity leave; support mothers/families all the way through to when the children leave home; educate new mothers, the wider world, what challenging job it is to bring up children and honour it for what it is - an amazingly important and difficult job. For the child will carry what she has learned into the world. 

Therefore we all have a responsibility, not just mothers!, because the little world has an impact on the big world. And a child is a gift. But we can only see the gift if we feel that we are a gift too and feel that we are honoured and cherished by society. And no one can love better than a mother. YES. No one can love better than a mother because she has carried that child, she has given birth to that child, and no matter how far she has slipped down the path of chaos and disconnection, deep down buried in her depths, she still loves that child the best. She may not be the best person to CARE for that child. But that love is the love the child deep down wants no matter how bad things have gotten. For a child their mother, their father, is God. There is no one else than God. That's why it is so terribly terribly painful when the parent does not give good enough parenting. And as a society we have the duty to meet that pain and to repair wherever we can. And to support before it comes to the point where a child is torn from her mother, where a mother is torn away from her child.