A Special Message for Mother’s Day
By Maryanne Pope
“Gentleness is everywhere in daily life, a sign that faith rules through ordinary things: through cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweetcorn and flowers, through sports, music and books, and raising kids – all the places where the gravy soaks in and the grace shines through.”
— Garrison Keillor
Sunday May 13th, 2012
I know it’s not a Monday (the day of the week the Mothering Matters blog goes out) but we couldn’t let Mother’s Day slip by without a mention!
For me, today is a special day because it would’ve been my husband John’s 44th birthday. So I reckon I have two choices on how to view today:
1) As a double-loss. John is no longer here to wish Happy Birthday to. Nor do I have a child to celebrate Mother’s Day with – partly by choice and partly by circumstance, as the result of being widowed at 32.
2) With gratitude for all that I do have – and have had – in my life.
In reality, I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum over the past few days. I had a good cry the other night and allowed myself to acknowledge how much I still miss him – and to mourn the loss of the life we might have had together.
So, as per the advice in Mitch Albom’s beautiful book, Tuesday’s with Morrie, I stopped and turned to face my feelings. I chose to honour the hurt by letting it make its way to the surface.
I felt it. I expressed it through my tears. Then I let it go…and got back to the regularly scheduled program of viewing my life with gratitude for all that I have — versus dwelling on what I don’t.
For many women, Mother’s Day isn’t a celebration; it’s a minefield…a day to simply try and make it through with a minimum number of meltdowns.
Today, I send out a special prayer to John’s mom — a double-whammy for her — and to all women who have lost a child… or wanted children but didn’t have the opportunity to have them in their life.
I’m also thinking today of all the women whose own mom’s are no longer here.
My mom is 86 now and, I’m pleased to report, finally transforming from a sharp-tongued tiger into a sweet little old lady!
For all those moms out there – traditional and otherwise – we wish you a wonderful day! Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing and whoever you’re with, may the gravy soak in and the grace shine through.
As for me, I’ll be spending the day with my fluffy four-legged friend, Soda, and my Victoria adopted-family
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the Board Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund and the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc. Mothering Matters is a bi-weekly blog series that explores a variety of motherhood and mothering-related topics, issues and perspectives. Please click here to subscribe.
Why Mothering Matters
By Maryanne Pope
To have a mother’s sensibility, you don’t need to be female; you don’t even need to have children. You just need to have a soul that cares about the future more than you care about yourself. That’s what mothering is — laying down your life for the young so they can grow up into full people.
— Sally Field, in O Magazine
I’m not a mother in the traditional sense; I am not raising a child. Nor have I. But I struggled for decades over whether or not motherhood was a path I wished to travel. At forty-four, I have finally arrived at a place where I can honestly answer NO to the “To be or not to be…a mom?” question — at least in terms of me taking action to acquire a child in some capacity. If one were to land in my life, I’d have to reassess!
But for now, I am not a mother. I just feel very mother-like because I care deeply about the state of our planet, the many species inhabiting it — including the Homo Sapien variety — and the significant issues we collectively face.
I am a mother-at-large
During my journey of exploration through the pros and cons, challenges and responsibilities, options and choices surrounding the motherhood decision, I’ve come to realize that being a conventional mom — whether that is to a child one has given to birth to, is a step-parent to, has adopted, fostered or otherwise — is not only one of the toughest jobs on the planet, it’s by far one of the most important.
For at the end of the day, mothers are the ones who ultimately determine how the future — of a society and a species — unfolds.
In addition, mothers are not only responsible for raising the next generation, they also have a significant role to play in ensuring there is a safe and healthy environment for this generation to inhabit. In today’s insanely busy world, it’s easy to lose sight of this bigger picture – or hope someone else will take care of the second part of that equation.
However, as it is in the rest of nature, mothers have the greatest stake in ensuring that an environment is conducive to raising their young.
But I’m also realizing mothering isn’t just something mothers do. Nor is it exclusive to women. Mothering, in its truest sense, is an expression of the feminine qualities of nurturing, caring, concern, teaching, compassion and patience. Frankly, some of the most mother-like people I know are men.
Mothering not only matters, it is quite possibly what the world needs most right now, in terms of a different way of addressing the many issues we face – be that at an individual, relationship, family, community, societal, cultural, environmental or global level. For as nurturing and caring as mothers can be, the most effective ones are also firm but fair.
Purpose of Mothering Matters Blog Series
The purpose of the Mothering Matters blog series is to create a forum in which the challenges and responsibilities of motherhood and mothering are discussed, so we can learn from one another – whether we are raising children ourselves or not – as we move forward together to a healthier future for all.
A wide variety of mothering-related perspectives and issues will be explored by a myriad of writers. The blogs will be written from a personal perspective, short (max 750 words) and go out every second Monday via e-mail.
Sample topics include:
- To be or not to be…a mom?
- Dealing with our own mothers and mother-in-laws
- Keeping one’s sense of self as a mother
- Working while raising a family
- Losing a child
- Environmental concerns
- Impacts of children on marriage
- Teaching kids gratitude
- Being a single mom
- Nurturing ourselves
- Learning from mother nature
- Delayed parenting
- Post-partum depression
- Mother Goddess/Divine Mother
- Losing a mother
- Keeping kids safe
- Raising a child with disabilities
- Mothers around the world
- Choosing not to have children
- Childhood hunger
- Grandmothers as mothers
- Mothering in the community/broader sense
And much more!
If you are interested in writing a blog for the Mothering Matters series, please contact us for writer guidelines, terms & conditions and to discuss a suitable topic.
How to Subscribe to Mothering Matters
To sign up to receive the complimentary bi-weekly Mothering Matters blog series (via e-mail), please click here to subscribe.
The Mothering Matters blog series is an extension of the Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood documentary (53 min, 2005) and the subsequent filmed facilitated discussion (20 min, 2007), both produced by Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.
For further info or to view Whatever Floats Your Boat and the facilitated discussion, please click here.
About Pink Gazelle Productions Inc
Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.
PGP is a collaborative company that creates entertaining and authentic works which inspire and challenge people to effect positive change in themselves and the world around them. The Founder & CEO of PGP is Maryanne Pope.
About Maryanne Pope
Maryanne Pope is the executive producer of the Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood documentary, the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the upcoming book, Barrier Removed; A Tough Love Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Maryanne is the Founder & CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc and the Board Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. Maryanne lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
For further information about Mothering Matters, please contact:Maryanne Pope CEO & Founder Pink Gazelle Productions Inc email@example.com (250) 654-0606 www.pinkgazelle.com
Sometimes Situations Have to Go SPRINGER
Before They Settle
As in Jerry Springer…the TV show we loved to hate because it was trashy – but oh-so-watchable. And why was that?
Perhaps because from the safety and comfort of our living rooms, we could watch the raunchy guests, sporting plaid lumberjack coats and rubber boots, battle it out on stage – screaming, swearing, finger-pointing and saying the nastiest things imaginable to each other – knowing that we would never stoop to that sort of boorish behaviour. Oh no, we would never partake in such low-brow attempts at solving problems.
A couple of weeks before Christmas, I was a Jerry Springer guest, right down to the plaid coat and rubber boots. I wasn’t on TV, no. I was on my own doorstep, having it out with my neighbour…as other neighbours undoubtedly watched from the comfort and safety of their living rooms.
The worst of it, though, was that it was my actions that led to the confrontation in the first place. But let me explain
Ever since I moved into my home eighteen months ago, I’ve had concerns about said neighbour…loud music, old fridge in back yard (a three year-old child lives in the house, so probably not a good idea), rusted old pick-up truck in driveway, spilled kitchen garbage left in front yard for weeks, mysterious comings and goings from their large shed in the back yard…you get the picture.
But instead of dealing directly with my neighbour, I fussed and fumed and complained to whoever would listen about the mess, the noise and the possible drug-related activities next door. I wasted vast amounts of mental and emotional energy despising her AND making plans to sell my home i.e. moving away from the problem instead of solving it.
Well, one thing led to another and Child Services was called in early December.
The next day, the kitchen garbage was cleaned up.
The day after that, there was a very loud pounding on my front door. Uh oh.
I took a deep breath and opened it. And there she stood: my now steaming-mad 22 year-old neighbour.
Her eyes narrowed. “I know it was you that called Child Services.”
“Actually,” I said, “it wasn’t.”
This was technically true because I didn’t call them. But I had a hand in having them called – and my neighbour saw right through this.
“I know it was you,” she continued, “because everyone else around here knows what I have in my shed.”
I folded my arms across my chest. “Oh yeah? And what’s that?”
“REPTILES!” she yelled.
“Oh,” I said, rather quietly.
“I am NOT dealing drugs back there! You can come over right now and take a look.”
I went back inside and put on my blue plaid jacket and dirty rubber boots…I knew a good fight was brewing and wanted to look the part (just kidding).
Back on my front step again, my neighbour made some comment to the effect that I should be more careful before I go calling Child Services on someone.
To which I looked her in the eye and said, “Oh, my dear, the call wasn’t made just because I thought you were dealing drugs out of your shed. The call was made because you are raising a child in a pig-sty and I’m sick of living next to a garbage dump.”
Her mouth dropped open. I’m surprised she didn’t hit me – that would’ve been really Springer.
“I was wrong about the shed,” I said, “and I’m sorry about that. But the way you’re keeping your property is unacceptable.”
We stomped over to her place. After climbing over the low gate (the latch was broken), down the crumbling steps, past a couch (also plaid but having been exposed to the rain for a year or two, not looking so good) and around multiple toys, we stopped in front of the fridge.
She looked at me. “I didn’t know a fridge was dangerous for a kid.”
Obviously, the phone call to Child Services had mentioned the fridge.
“Well, now you do,” I said.
Then I (albeit rather dramatically) swept my arm across the collective mess and asked, “Is this how you want to live?”
“Well then why don’t you ask for help? I’m your neighbour and although I’ve done a lousy job of it so far, I am here to help you.”
Then we went inside the shed to see the critters. Yup, it was full of reptiles all right…bearded dragons and the like – oh, and rats and boa constrictors.
But everyone was safely caged and seemingly well cared for. And they all had names.
After the shed-tour, we’d both calmed down considerably so she showed me the inside of her house. It was really cute – and tidy.
“I’m a single mom,” she said. “I’m a cook at a local restaurant and I’m doing my best to make ends meet. I don’t have a car, so it’s tough to get rid of all that stuff. But I’ve arranged to have it taken away.”
“I get why you called Child Services,” she continued. “I figured you were concerned about the well-being of my son.”
“I am,” I said. “But to be honest, your loud music is also driving me crazy.”
A few days later, we exchanged Christmas cards. I gave her a Safeway gift certificate to buy leafy greens and bananas for her shed-creatures; she gave me a picture drawn by her son…and her phone number in case her music got too loud for my liking.
Over the next week, the rusty truck and other front-yard garbage disappeared. As for the fridge, it was moved so that at least the door faced the fence, for safety…and so that I didn’t have to look at it.
And what did I learn through all this?
1) Speak up sooner…don’t let a situation fester
2) Be wary of making assumptions
3) Sometimes things do have to go Springer before they settle
4) Resolving an issue can bring a sense of peace
5) Anger, resentment, fear and judgement require far more energy than empathy, understanding, humour and lending a helping hand
At the end of the day, however, perhaps it was my neighbour who learned the most valuable lesson about being a young mom: people are watching, people do care and people will speak up when something doesn’t seem right.
Even if it takes awhile.
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening. She is the CEO & Founder of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc and the Board Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. Please click here to sign up to receive her complimentary e-zine, The Watering Hole.