Rethinking the Nature of MOTHERHOOD

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There’s a video making the rounds in cyberspace this week, I guess because Mother’s Day is cropping up, that was done to honor the roles mothers play in the precious lives of their children. A male friend sent it to me and called it heartwarming. Of course I was eager to click and watch; I am all about mothering and think it’s the most important job anywhere. I did and I was not only appalled but physically nauseous.

The video depicts mothers awakening their sleeping children at the crack of dawn, getting some breakfast down them and loaded onto school buses as the sun is rising. We then see moms taking their children to sports practices and then later to compete in Olympic events. I feel weak in the knees just recalling the graphic display of children being pushed and prodded through life to “achieve something important.” It sickens me that parents see their role as one of creating a “product” of their child.

I am fully aware that I live on another planet and just visit this one from time to time. On my planet, children sleep because they require rest and rejuvenation. They are virtually never awakened artificially but arise when they are rested. They don’t eat on a schedule, they eat when they’re hungry – sometimes not for hours after awakening. As for sports practices of all kinds, on my planet children consciously choose what sport (and all other things) they want to experiment with and how long they want to pursue it. It matters not how good they have become in a skill or sport, they get to decide entirely when they have reached their limit and move on to something else. It also matters not how terrible they are at a thing; there is no such thing as failure; it’s all a grand and evolving experiment and they are, as are we, always learning and revising our ways in the world.

Children are born with a natural, evolutionary drive to self-direct, self-motivate and give direction to their developing interests and passions. Really! If you are not seeing this in your children it is because they have incorporated the message that they are not capable, not smart enough to know what is best for them, punished for “failure”, rewarded for “achievement”, or otherwise thwarted in their expressions of who am I, what do I want, what is important to me.

To be fair, I know there are a handful of kids out there that ask to be awakened, ask to be pushed, even pushed to their limit. My youngest son’s girlfriend may be one of those people, and she was unschooled (her parents could never understand their daughter’s odd desires, but they rose to the occasion as best they could and daughter was grateful). She also knew, of her own accord, when to stop pushing. To be real, what I have discovered after performing my own little study over the last couple of decades, of doctors and lawyers and professional athletes (and others), is that they were treated as budding products by their parents. More significantly, they have taught me that very close to all of them hate or seriously dislike what they do and want to get out of medicine or law or professional sports. They feel largely stuck given the investment already made in their careers.

This video leaves me aghast at what we have created in our messed up world. I know we’re all different. I get that. I know I’m not the only one that’s different even though sometimes it seems that way. Fortunately I know there are others, lots of others, who understand the nature of respect, integrity and love… genuine, authentic love for a child that honors the essence of who they are, what they are drawn to, what they are ready for, who they are and what they wish to become… on their timetable, not their parents. This is so very different than the widespread message that’s being passed along on… here it is … the video:

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