Thoughts by Richard Bleil
First thing’s first; happy Mother’s Day. I’ve been trying to think about what to say in this post. If I were being honest, my relationship with my mother left much to be desired. I’m not convinced it’s entirely her fault, though. In my household, division of parental duties were segregated based on gender as odd as that sounds. I suppose the logic was that my father would best understand the needs of a boy, and my mom of a daughter. Unfortunately, my father was cold, distant and aloof. As a result, I more or less had to raise myself. But, my mother’s relationship with my sister was truly enviable. Apparently, mom would brush her hair every evening and they had deep meaningful conversations as I sat alone in my room.
Well, that’s just the way it goes.
Although I have no children of my own, my former wife actually had four sons from her first marriage. The first night we spent together, she expressed shame in her body because of the changes childbirth brought about such as stretchmarks and her breasts from breastfeeding. I’m not going to say I didn’t notice these things about her, but neither did I find them ugly as she seemed to see them. Actually, I found these to be quite beautiful because I understand that they came about because of the heroic act of childbirth.
Yes, heroic. Childbirth does have its physical hazards, but there is more to it than that. A woman will sacrifice her body, and often her career to her children. There are a couple of tragedies in our society, the first being that its still largely male dominated, and second that mothers don’t get the appreciation that, frankly, they deserve.
Have you ever noticed how common it is for women to sacrifice for parenthood, and how rare it is for men to do so? I’m not suggesting that it’s mens’ turn to sacrifice, but it seems reasonable that in a couple, the one with the most promising career should be supported. I’ve been fortunate to know couples where that was the case and I’ve always seen it as a beautiful thing when a husband supports his wife professionally.
I’ve heard it suggested that women who choose to be mothers rather than pursuing “serious” careers are betraying the women’s liberation movement. Personally, I disagree. Okay, I’m a man, so maybe it’s not my place to say, but it seems to me that what the women’s liberation movement should be about is the right to choose and to be treated fairly once the choice is made. This means equal pay, end of sexual and physical harassment, and more, but women who choose motherhood should not be denigrated for that choice.
Motherhood is a noble decision that rarely is shown the appreciation deserved. I certainly can’t speak from experience, and I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a mother. The bonding that takes place from carrying and, should the mother choose to do so, breastfeeding is something men can only imagine. In fact, there are even “surrogate mom” products available for men to try to give them some idea of the breastfeeding experience. Unfortunately, women are forced to cover up when feeding their babies because as a society we still see breasts as entertainment for men rather than being beautiful and nourishing as they truly are. In my humble opinion, the only people who should be ashamed of breastfeeding are those who believe that it is the mother who should be ashamed.
The bond between mother and child never really goes away. I know my mom worried every time my sister was out on a date or left the house. The fear that something might happen, or that she might end up in a toxic relationship is something that she carried with her to the grave.
Mothers are human, and sometimes, yes, they make mistakes. They have their struggles, fight their demons, have good days and bad. Many mothers worry about whether or not they will make a mistake, but the reality is that they will. But for the most part, these mistakes will blow over. It’s not the details that make good children, but the overall effort. A good mom who teaches her children to love by showing love, to forgive by being forgiving, to be charity through their charity is doing okay.
Today is Mother’s Day. In fact, I believe that every day should be Mother’s Day, but we have one day to remember to treat mom as special as she is. It’ll be a tough year for mom this year with the pandemic so take a little time to show your mother how much she means to you before, like mine, she’s gone.