Friday, May 9, 2014
Happy (m)Others Day!
"A Mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take. " --Cardinal Mermillod
Before we go celebrating another rosy posy balloon-happy Mother's Day (a day which can be a source of much pain and sadness for many people), let's consider what little is left of motherhood and the basic role of the mother in America today!
Warning: This is going to be a long one.
We indeed live in dangerous times for humanity when everyone thinks they can take the place of the mother. The doctors, nurses, hospitals, corporations, drug companies, schools, religious leaders, and the government, all continue to work tirelessly at replacing the mother (and father!) with something else, in order for the country's workforce to be doubly strong and the fat government tax account can be well-fed for squandering.
Statistics indicate that currently 75% of infants' mothers work FULL TIME in the first year of their child's life. Since the U.S. has no laws granting a single day of paid maternity leave to mothers, most return to work as soon as possible, forcing an abrupt severing of their natural maternal instinct, and resulting in the child suffering the same developmental setbacks of children of "absent mothers" -- In the excellent book The Emotionally Absent Mother, by Jasmin Lee Cori, the term includes absence for any reason, even death. There is no blame here, just a profound recognition of the ill effects the absence of mothers, intended or unintended, has on the development of humans. Whether the mothers were disconnected due to forced separation, high paying jobs, drug addiction, or depression, the children will undoubtedly be affected by this loss of time. Just think of that number again-- 75% of the current generation of American infants are separated from their mothers because of work outside the family. What a sad generation we are raising.
This trend of mothers returning to work began to rise sharply in the early 1980s and continues alarmingly unchallenged today. And what do we have as a result? The ADHD generation, the food-allergy generation, the mood disorder generation, the emotionally disconnected tech generation and the skyrocketing divorce rate that goes with it. These innocent children who grew up with "absent" working mothers of the 80s and 90s and TV are the same adults who have today grown up with deficits resulting from unhealthy mental, emotional, and physical development.
Not all mothers have a choice, of course. There is a Silent Crisis in America. Many working mothers are single, widowed, or divorced. It is these mothers especially who should get government support to stay home with their kids, and not get thrown into a system of chaos in order for them to get back to work. Last week, I met an elderly lady visiting from Sweden. She laughed out loud when I told her that the US government has no paid maternity leave laws! She said in Sweden, the law mandates that women get paid 80% of their salaries for ONE AND A HALF years to stay home with their children. What a better way to spend tax money than to waste it on handouts and expanding preschool factories, which do nothing to strengthen the core family or the natural development of the children.
But many mothers in America are more fortunate. They are married or partnered, and might have a second income to depend upon. It is to these mothers I want to reach out. Those who work, but don't really really have to. They don't have to have the big house, or the extra car, or the extra vacation, at the expense of being "absent" from their infants in the first years of life. It's scary to see how much parents are willing to pay for this social parental trap! In New York City, for example, nannies can be paid more than pediatricians! I want to caution those mothers most of all: Your child may very likely grow up to pay a heavy mental/physical/emotional price for that absence (if she isn't paying already), and climbing out of that hole is hard and lonely. I know because I am 47 years old and still working on "fixing" some leftover scattered deficits, even though my childhood wasn't even that bad apart from the fact that I was separated from my working mother a lot, and she didn't even travel frequently out of town like many millionaire moms pride themselves in doing today.
People tend to think that I have postponed going back to work because I can "afford" to "stay home." I put quotes around that latter term because it's so hilarious. As if non-professional mothers do nothing but stay at home. When properly bonded and connected, we are like the control tower of the airport we call home! Without us "Directors of Operations," many more accidents are prone to happen--present, future, seen, and unseen mistakes. Things can and will fall apart when mother is absent! The job of mother simply cannot be outsourced to daycare centers and nannies, and result in the same quality of life for the marriage, family, and children.
I'm often asked if I see myself returning to a regular job outside the home anytime soon. My answer is, when there comes a time that I feel can, I will. Right now, my family needs me, and the other reality is, my husband and I can't afford for me to go back to work and make a second income. Shocking, huh? Not really. We actually did all the math when I was pregnant and working, and it was clear that it would cost too much for me to go out and earn that extra $100,000-- from a quality-of-life perspective AND from a financial perspective. Once we factored in the childcare outsourcing costs, the increased taxes (due to more income), the food short-cut costs, wardrobe, and transportation costs--Plus the savings in money and time by keeping our family healthy, without a constant need for "professionals" to intervene in our home-life, it was a no-brainer.
I speak with an urgency about this subject today because I am a child of the 60s, a time when it was still very uncommon for new mothers to work full-time, but mine did. So I feel like my life has been a trailer or a preview for the feature film we are about to see in the increasingly mother-shorted generation to come.
When I was growing up, most moms stayed home and my mother was the only one among all my friends' who worked (double-full-time). Indeed she 'had' to work for financial gain, but she was also primed by her own childhood experiences to grin and bear detachment from her children because the circumstances of her early childhood rendered her own mother emotionally detached. The author of the book I mentioned earlier talks extensively about these generational patterns that get passed on from mother to daughter.
My working mother also never had the opportunity to breastfeed me, an act of nature I deeply believe is where the bonding process is rooted between mother and child. When I say "breastfeed" I don't only mean feeding through the breast, but also on the breast (through a bottle). As long as a mother or the bonding parent (father, adopting mother, caregiver) is doing the feeding up close and personal, the bonding has a chance to take root. So all this empty talk about those poor working moms wasting time and emotions on pumping and storing milk for their babies to feed in their absence, does absolutely nothing for bonding. In fact, the more absent the mother is from her child, the less likely she is to keep producing milk. Another catch-22 for working moms thanks to the government that "strongly recommends" that all mothers breastfeed for a year, and in the same capacity gives them no legal right to do it!
I adore my mother and feel her love and hear it in her sweet words, but still, there seems to be something missing, not connecting. This deficient "wiring" and the differences between us continue to slightly irritate us to this day. We love each other, but we don't know how to express it. We want to help each other, but we don't instinctively know what to do. We need each other, but we don't know how to ask for our needs and we 're frustrated when they are not known and instantly met. We want to comfort each other, but we don't seem to know the right words to say. This is what the broken bond does. It becomes a bad wiring situation between mother and child. This delicate seed can only be planted early in a life-time-- in those first days, months, and years of a mammal's life. Is it too much to ask for this natural right? Is it too hard to give up a second income for just one year? Are our children not worth a properly rooted life?
With strength and understanding, together my mother and I have worked very hard at facing and resolving the truths that make us. And although I feel like I've overcome many obstacles as a result of this effort, she continues to suffer through an endless history of chronic and unexplained illnesses which are very likely to be the result of her own childhood suffering. (see another book, The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting, by Alice Miller).
The well-known healer and lecturer, Louise L Hay also convinced me through her own experience and through her many books, that physical illnesses have definite mental and emotional sources. One of her books, (Heal Your Body A-Z), references many medical ailments, their emotional sources, and a new thought pattern to help heal the problem. You don't have to buy the book to see this list, a similar one is readily available here. The author herself was diagnosed with late-stage vaginal cancer in her adult life. She supplemented her healing through deep inner work, which left her convinced that no cancer healing would be complete without it. She is also convinced that the cancer came to her from a Body Memory of "deep hurt" when she was raped at the age of five and battered in her childhood. "No wonder the cancer hit me in that area," she says of her fate. She believes, as I do, that if buried childhood issues are not recognized, resolved, and healed, then illnesses of the body, mind, and spirit are inevitable. Babies may not cognitively register the memories of growing up without mother's constant presence, but their bodies will! I discussed this in the two previous posts about Pistorius and Dr. Drew.
The child in me couldn't care less if we had an extra car or what my mom's own childhood was like. That child in me probably would have much preferred to be 'poor' for another year than be separated from my mother twenty hours out of the day, than to bear the pain of being without her grounding force, mirroring my SELF to me. I have no cognitive memory of how traumatic it might have been for me to be left with a string of strange caregivers because, as all infants, I was non-verbal at that stage in life. However my body's memory somehow recycled these experiences into my adult behaviors and unshakable paterns. And now that I'm all grown up and know the facts, I still don't think my mother's two jobs were worth a couple of steps up for our family on the socio-economic ladder.
It took a lot of inner work and yoga, but I've had many positive breakthroughs as I worked through the myriad of weight/smoking/relationship puzzles in my life. But the biggest breakthrough happened when I had my own child. I was struck with a profound awareness of the pregnancy/birth process and I made a conscious decision not to fall into those same patterns in my own mothering style.
As a young girl, I knew deep inside that I wouldn't be a mother unless I was fully able to be present for my child's first year of life. I was even ready to accept a life without children if I couldn't do it that way. Like most people, until my late thirties, I was still a mystery to myself, and I couldn't have possibly matured my delayed and deficient maternal instincts in time, in spite of the fact that I was a teacher and surrounded by kids for 17 years. I didn't get married until the age of 40, and with no serious intention of having children. But the universe sent me a magical boy of my own at the ripe old age of 43. As a result of my maturity and the full support of a mature loving husband, I decided to take complete ownership of motherhood. I did what most people around me said was un-doable. I chose unmedicalized pre-natal care and a home-birth. I put my career on hold and we relied on my husband's income alone (which is already truncated for child support from his previous marriage, so I know it can be done!) We gave up the second car, lived a simpler life and shared rooms with our son for a couple of years. Nobody starved or suffered and we reaped the benefits of the health, peace, and harmony that come from having only one parent work outside the home. I was able to nurse my son and give him round the clock care. I chose attachment parenting all the way!
The term "attachment parenting" is a little deceiving because people who are not familiar with it tend to visualize clingy and spoilt kids. In reality, it's quite the opposite. Malattached kids are more likely to be clingy while well-attached kids will be more independent in their mother's absence because they don't experience feelings of abandonment when their mothers are consistently away for long periods of time. They trust their environment and feel secure in it. In Jungian theory, the 'natural' child is described as honest, genuine, generous, loving, innocent, open, trusting, imaginative, intuitive, curious, spontaneous, vital, alive, full of wonder and play. We have succeeded in creating a scoial system that literally operates to prematurely delete these inborn characteristics in the natural child. It's very sad indeed.
Remember the teenage stowaway who has been in the news for defying death in order to reach his mother? Now there's a properly attached kid for you. It's easy to assume that he has all those characteristics otherwise he wouldn't have been able to make that crazy trip. I don't know anything about his early life because my research hasn't turned up anything, but I'm willing to bet this kid was a home-birth, breastfed, and uncircumcised. I'm also willing to bet he was constantly carried by his mother in his early years, smelling her, hearing her voice, breath, and heartbeat--bonding with her. The power that made this kid believe he can reach his mother and act on it blows the mind. This is the super human power that is born in mother and child through natural childbirth and proper bonding. Ain't no mountain high enough! I'm afraid humans are being slowly stripped of their species' instinctive superpowers through continued practices of artificial pregnancies, violent birth, cruel circumcision, unnecessary vaccinations, formula-feeding, bad medicine, and the general outsourcing of the parents' role.
I might not be doing a perfect job with my son, (it's been a wild ride) but I can guarantee you he's properly attached. I "see" him and I "know" him. I can effortlessly tell how he feels, how he thinks, and what he means. I can predict his responses and second-guess many of his actions. I don't need to be around him all the time to know he's ok, my maternal antennas instantly know when things are or aren't right. This is not because I'm so highly educated, or anything silly like that. In Dr. Raymond Moore's words, "children thrive more in bad homes than in good institutions." In other words, most children are better off with their own lousy mothers, than with anyone else. Unfortunately mothers are increasingly trading this work for a paying job outside the home without even needing to. Many highly professional mothers today are walking around with these broken antennas, wondering why they can't bond with their kids, as society wonders why the rates of postpartum depression, ADHD, food allergies, behavior disorders, childhood sex, murder-suicides, childhood cancer, diabetes, obesity, and everything bad in this world, are skyrocketing? Humanity is on a health downward spiral, with the Baby Boomers less healthy than their parents, and the Generation Xers less healthy than theirs.
Why do healthy twenty-somethings of today think their "biological clock is ticking" and they need expensive and invasive in-vitro fertilization to become pregnant, c-sections to give birth (up 500% since the 1970s), and strangers, nurseries, and now computers, to mind her infants while they attend to other careers? Because there seems to be an active media campaign that hypnotizes them so. At the rate society is going, there won't be much of mothers to celebrate as we are forced to pledge our ovaries and our children to the churches and state, so they may be vaccinated and processed to be good citizens with attachments for the nanny institutions of America.
My message to new mothers (and fathers)-to-be on this Mother's Day is: If work can wait, get your priorities straight. Resist being de-feminized to gain bogus "equal rights." Resist the federal, medical, and educational systems that strip women of their womanhood and mothers of there motherhood. Get informed. Say No to unnecessary c-sections! Demand the natural right to breastfeed and care for your own child for at least a year. Fight for paid maternity leave in America. Recognize that there is a fourth trimester in pregnancy after the child is born. Humans are the ONLY mammals that practice maternal-neonatal separation, and we've yet to come to a full understanding of the depths of the psychological, biological, and physiological wounds this will have on future generations. Are beast mothers and their offspring more deserving than our mothers and babies?
In her book The Body Never Lies, by Alice Miller, the author investigates why people continue to honor their parents, regardless of how they are treated by them. She found that around the world, people do this as a duty buried in their psyches that dates back to Moses' 4th Commandment (of the ten), which is strongly evident in the books of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Honor your mother and your father, or risk an early death from God. And from here, the complexities of our psychological issues take root. The 4th Commandment empowers parents to be untouchable, in spite of any mistakes they might make with their children, and leaves children helpless and haunted by this love dilemma.
The meaning of Mother's Day in America has come so far from Julia Ward Howe's call for peace. The many roles of mother have been outsourced to test-tubes, surgeons, nurseries, bottles, baby-monitors, TVs, other machines, and doctors. Along with "Father's Day" the purpose of this holiday has morphed into a mere propaganda ritual for keeping alive this out-dated and hurtful 4th commandment, so parents are immune from blame for screwing up their kids and kids can never ask too many questions about their childhood. It essentially takes the pressure off parents to, first and foremost, be present in their children's lives.
In the USA, we have a day, or a week, or a month on the calendar to honor everyone, their heritage and illnesses! This week, for example, in addition to Mothers' Day, we've been celebrating "Teacher Appreciation Week." which falls in Asian-American Heritage Month (shared by Jewish and Haitian Heritage), and Celiac Deisase Awarerness. And that's not it. Here's the list for May.
But of all the commemorative dates we share with the rest of the world, there is one thing starkly missing on our list of holidays. Can you guess what that is?
<Drum roll, please.>
And that's because we could never decide on what day to have it on. Bill Clinton came along in 1998 and said we should celebrate it on October 11. George Bush, said, no, let's make it June 3! Obama says let's just make it the first Sunday in June, while the state of Illinois is arguing for the SECOND Sunday in June. I kid you not. Look it up.
So until we stop our governing leaders from making a constant mockery of our children, their health, security, and education, Mother's Day will continue to lose it's meaning in America; for what is Mother's day without Children's Awareness Day, week, month?
And now we interrupt this depressing programing and return to our regularly scheduled rosy posy balloon-happy (m)Other's Day, because after all, most moms truly deserve to be celebrated and honored for their billions of sacrifices to us! And they've ALL sacrificed something, somehow, in some way, no matter, to bring us into this world.
To my mom, and to all the m(others) who care/d for me, Happiest Mother's Day to you from the Broo!
Thanks for reading, and keep your ears on...