Discernment, Mothering

The Day is Short

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.

10 thoughts on “The Day is Short”

  1. It’s why I have to, every now and again, read Jill Connor Browne’s Sweet Potato Queen books. It takes self-care and self-love to a whole other level, but reminds us that we are precious and in need of consideration as well. Sad that so many live their lives fully taking care of everyone but themselves, and in the end, what did it accomplish?

  2. it is hard for me too. I wish there was a good word in English for being positively selfish – for putting self first in a good way, for prioritising time with God over other good and important stuff.
    positively selfish – we need to be that for our good health and for those around us.

  3. If you do not take care of yourself….eventually you run empty and have nothing more to give.
    I love/hated this post. So much truth.

  4. My wonderful, fabulous mother never, ever put herself first. My goal in life is to treat myself better than she did herself, and it is a struggle for me every single day.
    Selfish, it is not, dear Songbird: look at what you are teaching your boys to expect their partner to be? Look at what you are modeling for the Princess! It is your JOB.
    In addition to massages, reading time, prayer time…blogging time!…one thing that I do that is very self-nurturing is listen to books on tape in the car…all the time, not just for long trips. I adore the feeling of being read to, but because I learned to read at four, it’s an awful long time since I had that. I get a real sense of satisfaction and being mothered from it.
    Thanks for this. The subject has been much on my mind lately.
    BTW, how did THIS funeral director greet you? Formal bow? A dance step? A mooning?

  5. Mary Beth, LOL!!
    He gave me a polite handshake, as did his assistant, but only after I extended my hand. Now, that’s a gentleman.

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