The day is short.
The night is long.
Why do you work so hard
to get what you don’t even want?
Ever have a few days where the information coming in from the stratosphere was packed with too many conflicting ideas?
I could use a retreat day or two for contemplation, but this week does not offer anything close to that. I will have a long car ride tomorrow, to and from a graveside service in an even more remote location than the last one. Perhaps things will become clearer along the way.
For tonight, consider with me, if you will, mothering. I grew up in a daddy-centric household, so firmly daddy-centric that I was shocked to discover there were mommy-centric households. My mother never considered pursuing some of the things that interested her deeply because she understood her job to be supporting my dad’s career. My beloved mother-in-law from the first marriage, contrariwise, handed her small children off to her husband as soon as he got home from work and went to college and grad school at night.
Today I heard a woman say that a young man liked being with her family because she never put herself first, and his mother always put herself first. I had a moment of feeling incredibly selfish, until I considered my mother and my mother-in-law. They both died in their middle 60’s of cancer (melanoma and ovarian, respectively). They didn’t get those extra decades to enjoy grandchildren or travel or working in the garden or reading a good book. Pure Luck’s mother died even younger, at 57. The day is short. The night is long.
I don’t mean to say that elevating mothering or even partnering to an art form is wrong in and of itself. But never putting yourself first seems extreme to me.
And I think about the party we have held for ourselves at the expense of Mother Earth. I think of breasts so empty they are bleeding to give us what we think we need to survive. She has worked so hard to give us what we want. She never puts herself first. But at what cost? At what cost to herself, and to us? What will be left for the next set of children? And Who will care for them?
Tomorrow I’m burying a woman who never put herself first. And all the time she was not putting herself first, she was smoking a cigarette. COPD, years in a wheelchair and using an oxygen tank, and finally cancer of the larynx.
There must be a via media, where care for others and care for self are not fighting a battle to the death.