Sunday, May 09, 2010

What's in a Mom?

Today is Mother’s Day in Germany and the US, as well as 75 other countries. I was fascinated to learn that it is NOT Mother’s Day in the UK, Ireland, or France. Although most countries celebrate a “mother’s day” some do it at different times of the year.

From what I gathered pursuing Wikipedia, Mother’s Day is not a day created by the greeting card industry but rather has its roots in ancient festivals and rituals that honor the feminine Gods. Christians adopted the holiday in honor of the Virgin Mary.

Why should we celebrate and honor our mothers? What is a “mom?”

I think about this a lot these days. First, there is the obvious. Your mother carried you in her body for 10 months and then birthed you (I actually had help with that). Trust me, this is no easy task! It is uncomfortable and painful despite all of the happy hormones pumping through our bodies. Second, human babies are some of the most vulnerable in the world. A mother’s razor sharp instinct to protect her young keeps them alive.

Modern mothers certainly have more resources available to them, but the essence of motherhood has not changed. We are there to protect and care for our young and to guide them to adulthood. What has changed in modernity, is that the philosophies behind fulfilling this mission.

Do you subscribe to “attachment” parenting or are you more hands off? Is it okay to work outside the home or should we stay at home? Television? Breastfeeding? Public or Private School? The number choices that modern mothers face are overwhelming.

Because of it, the permutations in parenting are so numerous that mothers will fight to the death to prove that THEY ARE RIGHT. Because one thing has not changed over the centuries, YOUR MOTHER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!

Jen and I were discussing the other day about how judgmental moms are of other moms. It is terrible. Instead of a giant sisterhood, we turn on each other. Honestly, no one, including myself is ever “right.” In fact the majority of us ARE MAKING IT UP AS WE GO ALONG.

My parenting philosophy is very simple:

My job is to love my son unconditionally, to protect him and to give him the tools to become a happy adult that contributes (rather than merely takes) from his society.
Out of this philosophy comes many things. I let him do a lot of things on his own. This often means falling down. However, he always knows that I am there to pick him up, calm him down, and help get going again. I want him to know that it is okay to fall down. We all fall. But then we get up and we try again. I try to encourage curiosity and I give him room to explore the world around him. He does not need to know what I would do with the blocks; what does HE want to make? He has always slept in his own room. We go to play group together because I want him to have friends and realize that no man is an island.

That is the way we handle things in our house. Is it right? No, but it is right for our family.

A new movie is coming out that explores the first year of life of four different babies: one in Mongolia, Namibia, Tokyo and San Francisco. One of the lessons that the director shares is that when it comes to parenting, sometimes less is more. I like that idea. Perhaps one of the downfalls of modern moms is that we think WAY too much (at least I know that I do!).

Basically, it comes down to this: today, tell your kids that you love them. Tell your mom that you love her. But don’t just do it today. DO IT EVERY DAY!