Oh, mother. Is there a more complex, complicated figure in our lives? Who else is more pivotal, more revered, reviled, scapegoated and projected upon than our mothers? A figure so large could never be merely personal.
Beneath/behind the image of your mother is the larger, archetypal image of Mother with whom you’re also in relationship and to whom you’re unwittingly responding. There is no way to fully separate mother from Mother. All that we think a mother is or ought to be is wound up in there – from the doting mother on TV to the heartless mother in the news, from the virgin mothers in our holy books to the wrathful mothers in our myths, from the mother of our mother to the mothers before her, all the way back to those primal mothers in the cave and the forest and the sea. We still share half our genes with the trees, after all. We still emerge from the amniotic waters. For millenia, all of us have been and will be loving Mother, longing for Mother, loathing Mother. She is the beginning and the end: the very earth that bore us and that which will devour our bodies when we die.
All this brings me strange comfort – a reminder, I think, not to pin all my angst nor all my worth on the feats and foibles of one little human mom.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all you complex human mothers out there.
We see you. We love you. It’s complicated.
*Art by Judy Chicago. Detail of “In the Beginning”, prismacolor on paper, 1982.