Happy Mother’s Day to All of Us

I was in Chicago this weekend visiting a friend who’s graduating from Northwestern Law (congrats Rabi!) As I was waiting for my flight back at Chicago O’Hare, I wandered around, and I don’t remember if it was a restaurant or bookshop, but there was a sign for a Mother’s Day discount. I was excited for a moment, but after closer inspection I realized that I did not qualify, I was not a mother.

“Well, fine. They won’t get my business then”, I thought, because I am five.

I started thinking about what it means to be a mother, not in the sense that you are pregnant with someone, but in the sense that you are pregnant with something, an idea, a new business, a book, an adventure, a transformation. When I attended a workshop by Jessica Jennings on Anusara Yoga for Pregnancy, I think she said something along the same line, that learning about the literal birthing process is useful even for people who aren’t pregnant with children.

Pregnancy is a creating process. And for all of us who are more or less engaged in this path, we, too, are going through an act of creating. It is messy. It hurts, it is painful. Anyone trying to tell you otherwise is lying to you, or lying to themselves. Shapeshifting almost always involves shedding some skin, just ask the dragon’s bride.

In his book, Do the Work, Steve Pressfield wrote:

The creative act is primitive. Its principles are of birth and genesis. Babies are born in blood and chaos; stars and galaxies come into being amid the release of massive primordial cataclysms.

Jewel sang in her song Becoming:

I am hurting
Oh, I am not yet born
I am the mother and the father
Of what is not yet known
Darkness surrounds me
I scratch, I struggle, I breathe.

Birthing is not even the hardest part; after that come the nurturing, the care and feeding, the relationing, with a person, a project, or a practice. There is equal joy and challenge through it all. And though there’s no guarantee at all of what will be, all we know is some internal urge to create, to manifest something into life.

My teacher Judith Lasater once said, “What do you want, the pain of not growing or the pain of growing?” While I understand what she means, I don’t think we, or I, have a choice of not growing. The cells in my body are always dying and renewing. Mother Nature is always destroying and creating.

As Stanley Kunitz sees through The Layers:

Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.

I am not done with my changes.

Happy Mother’s Day.