The art of mothering

This is my ‘editorial’ from our publications that was in all our May editions for Mother’s Day. I’ve changed it slightly as it’s not just relevant on Mother’s Day. I’ve had a request for it online for the purposes of sharing. I’m more than happy to oblige, of course. Here it is 🙂

Sadly, for many the relationship with their mother is not an easy or pleasant one. I’ve been fortunate to have had a steady, loving, supportive relationship with mine, and because of this, my heart breaks for those who don’t.

I was chatting about mothers with some friends the other day, and out of the conversation came a recognition for the need for mothering types of relationships, for all of us but more so if our relationship with our mother is not the best.

In the street I spent my teenage years, I had a few mothers. They were women who offered a different perspective than my own mother, and who were a little removed emotionally from me. Because they weren’t as emotionally invested in me as my own mother, they could perhaps see things from another angle and give unique insight. I will always be thankful for those who took an interest in me as a growing young woman and for the time they spent listening to me and my teenage angst, most of which was unwarranted, mind you!

During the conversation with my friends, I said the words “we need to embrace universal motherhood”. We all chuckled at the slightly ‘hippy’ turn of phrase but it’s true, we need to be ‘mothering’ one another.

Let’s get a definition of what it means to ‘mother’ someone. According to my trusty dictionary it means to look after, care for, take care of, nurse, protect, tend, raise, rear, pamper, coddle, cosset, fuss over. 

So, really, mothering shouldn’t just be left to mothers, or even women. Mothering should be what we all do for everyone. As adults, we don’t need ‘mothering’ all the time but there are times we need to be looked after, taken care of, or fussed over. In our friendships, we need to be looking for opportunities to show care and nurture our friends.

Mothering others means we give them attention, we listen, we take note of when they need some extra care and pampering. It was interesting to note that the antonym for ‘mothering’ is neglect. And when you think about it, when we neglect something, we give it no attention at all, no care or interest.

Why not take some time to appreciate those ‘mothers’ who fill the need in your life for that little bit of TLC? And while you’re appreciating them, take a look around for those people in your life who might need some mothering themselves, after all, we do need to ‘embrace universal motherhood’!

Where are all the jesters?

I read on another blog recently (can’t remember where!) a one-liner about the role of the jester in court life. One of the privileges that was afforded the court jester was his freedom to speak his mind when no-one else could. He (or she, but mostly he) could poke fun at the lords and ladies and even the royals themselves. Their role was not only to bring comedy and generally run amok, but also to speak the truth and have permission to keep everyone in their place. What a cool job 🙂 If I could spend my days being paid to make people laugh one minute and speak the truth to them the next, I would nearly die from sheer enjoyment and job satisfaction!

It seems to me that one of the things wrong in our society is that we have no court jesters – there’s a distinct lack of ‘no-men’ but an abundance of ‘yes-men’ in our political parties, our big businesses and in pretty much any other hierarchical system around.

One of the things I love about our Aussie culture, is the good natured teasing. You know someone loves and accepts you when they make fun of you 🙂 The more enthusiastic the banter between friends, the greater the love. And somehow, we all know where the line is, and it’s rarely crossed.

We have had to teach two of our children in particular to learn how to laugh at themselves and how to take a joke. I’m not advocating for bullying or taunting, but the world is not going to treat us with kid gloves, so we need to teach our children how to roll with the punches and laugh along with the joke, even if they are the subject. And, importantly, how to not take offence. (On a side note, how debilitating and deflating to a nasty bully if their subject laughs and joins in the joke! Very effective at defusing tense situations.)

I know some adults who could do with having a court jester in their lives, not only to make them smile but to bring some truth. With all our pop psychology these days about [cue rainforest soundtrack] ‘surrounding ourselves with good energy and only those who accept and love us as we are’, it’s easy to see why people are becoming more sensitive and self centred. What those type of quotes are really saying is ‘surround yourself with people who think exactly the way you do and are not going to point out when you are doing something wrong, hurtful or selfish’. Essentially, do away with the court jester and only allow the ‘yes-men’ into your circle of friends.

I’m lucky enough to have a few jesters in my life, and I am so very thankful. They keep me grounded in reality, frequently tell me things I don’t necessarily want to hear and don’t allow me to ignore those character traits that need adjustment.They also help me to laugh at myself and life in general.

Do you have a court jester?