This weekend I thought a lot about Motherhood as I rang in another birthday. Maybe I was born on this day, but my passage through the birth canal is a vague idea more than solid memory. It was my own mother, screaming, shouting, sighing her way through birth, that pushed me through the gate and into this world. Why do we not celebrate our elders on our birthdays?
Maybe birthdays are really about summoning up deep appreciation for our own lives, deep ownership and responsibility no matter where we’ve steered our ships in the course of our great adventures. Maybe birthdays are really about loving our lives and seeing them as holy.
When Usui says, “Just For Today,” I think he really means, “WTF?! Wake UP and Be Here Now because you might not get another moment like this one!”
For my birthday, my mother took me to a steakhouse I’d always wanted to attend, and boy was she confused. “Everything on this menu is steak and seafood! How are you supposed to eat it if you’re vegetarian?”
“I've always wanted to eat here. I’m not going to miss out on the chance just because I’m going through a phase of non-meat eating. I’m here for the experience, mom. I love this building. I love the happy people I see in the windows when I pass. I’ll be perfectly content with baked brie and truffle honey, walnuts and warm spinach salad.”
I saw her hovering, maternal concern. When I stepped away from the table, she addressed the waitress. “Can you please ask the chef if he can make a special vegetarian dish for my daughter? It’s her birthday! She can’t just eat appetizers!”
Years ago I would have cringed at such attention and berated her for speaking her truth (Why is it that we sometimes castigate those we love for being radiantly honest about what they feel?). This weekend I felt honored by her demands, hoping I might always keep this lesson about my own preciousness and worth: Why not ask a chef to create a special dish for me? What is the worst that can happen? People only know how to meet us when we are honest about what we need. Then they can either be there, or they can’t. And we can do what is necessary for our own happiness, stepping out of victimization and into Grace.
Later that evening I ventured out on the town with friends, and into old emotional territory, facing nearly forgotten fears about my identity as a mother and woman. Suddenly all of those wise gems about asking for what I wanted became complicated by old stories, projections, and conflicting desires. At times I was on a tightrope, balancing my internal truths with what I felt safe sharing in the external world.
Perhaps in truth we are always safe to share who we are and ask for what we need, but our mind of fear can imprison us. We also have guts, hearts, ovaries, scrotums, adrenals, and all sorts of other physical parts that sabotage our thinking process. We have to honor body and mind. Our body tell us what our human nature needs to be truly safe and well. Our mind helps us translate that to the world. Usually this wisdom is the first to go when we’re triggered. We mostly don’t run from lions and tigers anymore, but a busy nightclub or a mind clouded with memories can feel just as debilitating if it resonates in our old wounds. Suddenly words like “Just for Today, Just for Now,” have a lot of meaning, but can be so hard to implement with real integrity. I was so acutely aware of that for myself as the night grew darker.
To me this is the real work of life. Sometimes clients ask about my psychic connection, the Reiki tools, astral work, or spirit guides, but it all becomes mere rhetoric if we are not able to take this knowledge into our present moment. Through application, knowledge becomes wisdom.
I had a musical night, some of my favorite songs cropping up at the most surprising moments, personal messages from spirit crooning in familiar radio hits. I laughed and hung out with old friends and new, stepping into the realization that this birthday I was really learning to mother myself, to face each moment with the same love I’d offer my son, and with the same honest attention my mother offered me. Blocks are easier when you can get your inner voices in your corner shouting loving things.
So many men need that mother-connection too, not only from women, but from within themselves. I cry for the men who have been taught from young ages not to cry, not to nurture babies, for then I see them choking back emotions and at a loss for how to nurture themselves. Men have an inner mother too, and I see all around how so many men are trying to understand what it means to deeply embrace and express their feelings while not being emasculated in the eyes of society.
We have just this one body, our sacred and holy vessel that was birthed beneath some arrangement of dancing stars. On my birthday, the whole world was celebrating solstice, the return of the sun’s lengthening days, the recommencement of the Mayan calendar, and celebrating a new age of lovingkindness. Me? I am celebrating the return of mother-consciousness, the return of what it means to love unconditionally and powerfully enough to bring new life into the world despite our primal fears. I am celebrating the voice of my inner mother, who understands innately how to respect life, especially my own (for how can respect yours, otherwise?).