“…to represent the underworld mother faithfully, you have to honor the emptiness and the loss. The nature mother becomes underworld queen. You gain your depth at a price: specifically, you lose some of your obvious maternal attitudes and become more complex. You give yourself both to others and to the quest for meaning and identity.” Thomas Moore – Dark Nights of the Soul
At some point I found myself weary of the perpetual effort for positive mothering, big bright sunlight sweet and gracious. Barf. Truly, barf. Life is dark and night and wounds and all the saddest slights we hoped not to experience. It’s not just the great, glorious swelling precious ooo lah lah we long for in our youth. It’s both/and. Motherhood is the same thing for me. My children have grown accustomed to my snarl, my tears, my invitations to what I “playfully” call the “menu of loss” I am more than happy to provide them when their hubris gets the better of them. We aren’t meant to present ourselves as simply this great bright sun. We mamas embody the forces of nature and life and we do it with a vision to help our children find their strengths, their resilience and their sobriety, their humility. This is where my life is these days and it’s not easy. But the rewards are huge. I have three children who articulate about life on levels that feed the soul. They are not afraid to go deeply into the loss of life itself because at some point I decided my task is to acquaint them with courage not by way of sunny delight but by way of “this is life…this is the shite that happens and we get to love and build beyond it…” See: I wrecked their worlds and faced the truth of my own soul. We’re all re-building. Divorce, financial disasters, complete overhaul. Roles are powerful when they embrace the necessary dark side, the real more real.
In pondering my roles lately and the reality of gratitude especially given these times of Thanksgiving, I see the preciousness of the dark times, of their inevitable giftings. I’ve had some pretty amazing generosities flow my way as we roil here in a tide of potential loss. Times are very tough. Life as my own “mommy” is not being so nice. She ain’t bringin’ me the release I need in some areas. And yes, before the dogma brigade comes along, let me say that I know well the need to make my own release, grow it from within yadda yadda. As true as all the “yadda yadda” is…sometimes some lives do not get the material needful to manifest some amazing things in as timely a fashion as preferred. And, in spite of even that, some lives don’t give up.
But mother, mother life is tossing me the dark with the light. And the light seems to be more and more a result of the hard times. The “dark” times. My next door neighbor, a mother fiercely and beautifully protective, nurturing and probably a good 15 years my junior knocking on my door… “Ruth. If there is ANYTHING I can do for you…please…tell me. We don’t want to lose you…” GULP. We’re struggling to stay in our home. Struggling to make ends meet. Struggling even just to find the energy to do the basics, some of us. Me. But in the middle of it all, in the middle of this rolling tide from the best and worst of the dark mother/life is this wealth of gratitude I never thought I’d know and know so ruthlessly, relentlessly in spite of the ups and down. (And following rapidly on the heels of my mutterings to “god” shaking my head at the sky “you’re such a g.d. mofo…” And that is how joy finds a more authentic work…through the blasting expression of valid frustration.)
I waken daily to joy but it’s not so high. It’s right here in my core, knowing that whether a home is taken, or a job found, or health completely restored or not I can love with vision. I can receive with gratefulness. I can be part of something embracing the dark with courage.
This is where my heart is as a mother during this particular Thanksgiving holiday. The tremendous wealth that follows existential emptying becomes a feast in the night spilling onto tabletops filled with the usual but extraordinary fare…
On. With. It. And Happy Life, Y’all…