Mothering as Service

Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning.

LOVE must be put into action and that action is service.

– Mother Teresa

 

I’ve been a mother for over five years. It doesn’t seem like a long time numerically, but it feels like eons to me. I realized recently that part of the reason for this was due to my immense resistance to the role. Ask any of my girlfriends and they’ll tell you I don’t hesitant to complain about the truth of WORK, DISCIPLINE and PATIENCE this role requires. And I fail… often…. losing him in public places, skipping meals b/c I’m just too exhausted to cook, putting him in clothes that left painful marks that I even winced at, and taking advantage of every opportunity to drop him off with relatives to give myself a momentary mama-vacay.

Yet these outward behaviors only reflected the inner struggle I was experiencing. I didn’t want to be a mother. I thought it would require too much of me, sacrificing my dreams and goals. That giving and giving would eventually deplete me and I’d be resentful of him silently awaiting his 18th birthday to then be free to live my life. These are the fears that float through my awareness every now and then. Yet  instead of clutching to some idea of the perfect mother in my mind, I could release, and choose to follow this growing desire to be of service to this magnificent human child.

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My childhood was filled with stories of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and even the Black Panthers, not only as icons of the Civil Rights movement, but as examples of actionable-service. They sacrificed for an inner calling to inspire, root and demand an equitable community. In essence, each represented dynamic and self-less love. In the lessons of their stories, I was taught to not only strive for those standards, but reach them, embrace them, practice them. Love.

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Service requires that act of reaching for love. And mothering is one of the most prominent ways that our society embodies service. This is why I think the celebration of mothers is so essential. It breathes new awareness into our recognition of that service. It reflects our true gratitude for those who have supported, aided, rescued, embraced, accepted, devoted….in a word: loved. All of us have had a moment of this, whether it was from our biological mother or some stranger who helped us carry a ripped bag of groceries whose contents were saved from a concrete impact.

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My life has been saved from concrete impact, many times, by the women, men AND children who have chosen me as an acceptable receiver of their compassion and love. And on this mothers day I’m grateful to honor my own journey in shifting my perception of being a mother of resistance to one of privilege. I recognize the honor entailed in serving others. I deeply respect those who exemplify courage, elegance, grace and patience. As I learn to practice this way of mothering I recognize that I am magnifying the dynamic energies of Love on the planet. And what could possibly be more valuable of a service to our human-family than that?

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a crappy good life

A few days ago I posted this as my facebook status:

“Life is too magnificent for words.”

And then, less than a day later I found some perfectly descriptive words for Life, and they weren’t synonymous with magnificent.

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It was a good moment to remember the journey:

To accept the giddiness with the crap on your shoe (yes literally).

The moments of PMS and the extra reason for a salted dark chocolate high (honestly, if you haven’t yet tasted this, you haven’t fully lived).

The parenting exhaustion (mental and physical) magnified by the annoying friend or colleague or client and grocery store clerk. (Really, it wasn’t about them, I was already annoyed and just needed someone to project that onto, sorry.)

Just as there is always something to complain about, there is always ALWAYS something to feel grateful for. So instead of beating myself up about feeling frustrated about the crap, the sick child or the mental exhaustion, why not allow in some compassion and stop trying to change everything? Just be where I am. Even if where I am is:

  • Feeling lonely and DESPISE sleeping alone
  • Feeling slimmer, yet I can’t look at myself without criticizing SOMETHING
  • Taking major risks in being authentic and have FAILED. Miserably.

Usually my pattern is to take each of those instances and replay them over and over until I recreated a memory so much more terrible and unrealistic than what actually occurred that I will then attempt to avoid the memory altogether and fantasy about a future me that will never feel lonely, or ugly or a failure. I get that we all do what we pick up from our enviroment and perhaps this method serves some folks, but its certainly lost its luster for me. Looks pretty grey and down-right depressing actually.

Soooo ready to choose again.

One of the books I’m reading right now is The Serpent of the Light by Drunvalo Melchizedek. This book has my spiritual notions all up in a back-end twist. His description of human relationship to the Planet and the ever rising consciousness of both goes beyond anything I could conceptualize before. What I’m hearing from this book is that you cannot fail. It’s not possible for the world to implode. There is a conscious Intelligence, whose complexity is beyond our most advance super computers. And that the truth that ‘all is well’ can be found in Nature. Nothing ever happens in nature that is terrible. Really, think about it. Yes things “die” but then they give birth to other things. The storms, the earthquakes, the meteorite explosions. All of it happens to expand conscious awareness of Life to Itself.

In the video I link to above, Melchizedek talks about the shift from duality frameworks Good-Bad, Male-Female, Up-Down — that human beings are obsessed with — into a new paradigm of Oneness. A recognition of our interconnectedness to all other things. There’s a lot he speaks and writes of that goes completely over my head. I’ll be the first to admit it! And that’s ok, since I’m not attached to understanding it all intellectually right now. What I can take from it is a reason to feel a little more peaceful now. I can trust that the Earth is alive and doesn’t need saving from us. That there are systems, processes and connections in place right now to bring us back to balance. And the same exists for me. As I deal with my own self-infected pain and suffering.

Peace is available now because Peace is the destination and there’s no other place to go.

Shifting from Competition to Collaboration

I work for a company that designs and delivers strengths-based leadership development programs. What that often results in feedback from clients is a description of how our curriculum encouraged them to examine what was working in their management/leadership style and how they can utilize their strengths in new ways to improve ongoing challenges. I think one of the most powerful elements of the program is that we present a paradigm shift. A new way of thinking about their perception of the world based on what can be appreciated rather than focusing primarily on what is going wrong.

I was given a similar gift last weekend attending a seminar by Micheal and Ricki Beckwith. I’ve written about these powerful teachers before and am continually inspired by them. And although I’ve been listening to them for 15 years (!) I still find such depth and surprises in their soulful messages of song and word. One such message was around my paradigm of competition. I often find myself stuck in my desire for good in anything: love, money, gifted employment, creativity…and how that limits my belief that there is good left for others. Or, if others already have such wonderful experiences of some quality, it means there is less for me.

Take for example the recent realization that about 80% of my friends are partnered. Not all married, but nearly all are in serious long-term relationships. As I turned 30 just a few days ago, I reflected on how I was going to let this impact my desire for more love in my life, especially as I move towards single-hood again. After attending a recent party with my son as my date, I observed all the loving couples and frowned. I realized it bothered it more than I thought AND that my focusing on the absence of a partner made me more irritated that the partner was not yet here. But I SAY I don’t believe that a room full of loving couples means there is less likelihood of finding love for myself, but my reaction was one of competition: wanting to be one of those in the room as half of a loving couple!  I wish now I had heard Rev. Micheal’s words:

“Release the idea of competition, that the presence of good with someone else means less good for you. Goodness is omnipresent.”

The paradigm shift in that moment would have been to recognize the presence of appreciation, abundance, joy, peace, harmony swimming in the room. I could have considered how to deepen my display of parent-child love or friend-to-friend love which was also present in that moment.

Love was there waiting for me and I ignored it because I wanted it to look a certain way. But if I believe in the idea that goodness is everywhere-present, then I must also believe that it’s available in my life right now in more ways than I can imagine.

That’s what re-imagining peace is all about.