By Kel Fox
Today, Mother’s Day, is primarily a day to give thanks to our actual mothers. Certainly, birthing and/or raising a child into an adult is the key definition of motherhood, but what truly makes a mother? There are many people who may not relate to the caring, loving mother figure that Mother’s Day celebrates. Perhaps they feel their own mother wasn’t there for them. Perhaps they are mothers, but feel they are not living up to the onerous expectations placed on modern mums. Or perhaps they are not mothers of human children, and therefore exempt or excluded from motherhood. That in itself is fine, but when ‘motherhood’ and ‘womanhood’ become synonymous, it’s a concern. Today, I want to talk about how motherhood it is a part of all of us. Men included.
Caroline Myss talks about motherhood in a different way: as an archetype, one that anybody – woman, man, teenager, elderly, or anywhere in between – can embody. An archetype in this context is everything that is symbolic or representative of a particular role. It’s an idea, and not limited to the physical reality of possessing a uterus. A man can fuss around like a mother hen: that’s a man in the mother archetype. A woman can have no children but laboriously create a work of art for display in a gallery: that’s a woman in the mother archetype. The key expression for the mother archetype is creativity, and the greatest creative entity we know is Mother Earth, the vessel from which all life on our planet springs. Whether you are creating a child, or a project to advance your career, or a novel to publish, or you are raising a puppy or a baby budgerigar, you have it within you to express the mother archetype.
This is important because during my research in my final year as an Arts student, I came across some disturbing social and cultural biases. Female political candidates are viewed negatively for not having children, to the point where they are attacked or confronted about it in the media, or by other politicians. There is an expectation of all of us that as women grow and mature, they will naturally progress to marriage and children. The key word here is ‘naturally’: to go against this trend is considered unnatural. On the other hand, and equally problematic, is the idea that when a man heads down the marriage and kids path, he has forsaken his freedom. We celebrate the bachelor and deplore the spinster. It means women are not free to explore their mother archetypes without feeling pressured into bearing children. It means men are not free to explore their mother archetypes without fear of ridicule or being considered unmanly.
Consider the phrases “Mummy’s boy”, or “crazy cat lady”. They’re funny, and usually used to jest or tease, and I have no problem with that. I don’t want political correctness to continue to the point where our conversations become stilted and lacklustre for fear of offending one of the many minorities in society; indeed, PC now seems to serve more as an expression of ideology than human decency and it is polarising our social discussions. What I do want is to start a thought process where we notice the bias: there is no equivalent “mummy’s girl”, because a girl expressing her mother archetype is natural, but a boy expressing his mother archetype is not. There’s no “mad cat man”, because we presume that no man, sane or otherwise, would take it upon himself to foster many cats in lieu of a human family. He wouldn’t need to: being a bachelor is normal enough. It’s spinsterhood we have to worry about.
I’m not saying women should rail against being mothers, or working mothers, or career mothers, or that men need start expressing themselves as motherly. I’ll definitely be visiting my mum this weekend and telling her how grateful I am to have her as my mother. But I will also spare a thought for those who perhaps don’t relate so much to our traditional views of motherhood, or don’t have a best friend in their mum to celebrate with. I’ll still joke with my brother and sister-in-law that their neighbour is a crazy cat lady (she does own a lot of cats, and constantly yells at them). But I will also think about what that phrase means, and spare a thought for the woman in question. Quite likely she doesn’t see herself as a crazy cat lady. Most of all, I’ll be grateful for all the beautiful expressions of the mother archetype in this world, from small gestures of care to the abundance of Mother Earth.
Speaking of the abundance of Mother Earth, one of her great gifts is herbs; truly, there is a herb for everything! This month at Valley Tea, we are offering 10% off Women’s Balance, Passion Tea and Endo Support blends*. Endo Support is to help with endometriosis. Women’s Balance is primarily designed to assist with PMS and menopause. Passion Tea uplifts and energises all bodies. If you’re feeling a little off balance, or just like a little liquid love would be good, head to the Valley Tea site here with the coupon code MOTHERS2018 or come into the Café to browse our products and mention this blog to get your discount.
And today, I honour the mother in you, and the mother in me.
For further reading on archetypes and how they shape our lives, check out Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss, 2002, Three Rivers Press New York.
*Discount only available on specified blends. Valid until May 31, 2018.