We believe that every woman who has the best interest of the rising generation at heart, and willingly gives herself to nourish and protect the rising generation, is a mother.”
As part of the definition and explanation of the May tenet that drives the work we aspire to at Big Ocean Women, the above thought is amazing and one that drew me into the Big Ocean Women organization. There are women on this earth who for biological reasons never to be understood will not bear children. There are also women who will mother children who are not their own at different points throughout their life, whether they, themselves are biological mothers. Plain and simple, mothering is something that is a community effort and raising the next generation of successful leaders and foundations of future societies is not something that is accomplished in a vacuum; we work as a team.
During our recent worldwide summit, “Many Waves, One Ocean,” I was inspired by Carolina Allen’s presentation and her discussion of the slowing down of society and the returning of our lives to a “maternal economy.” When we reduce our daily lives to the human interactions available to us, the lessons we learn from our mothers, and mother figures, become some of the most important ones available to us. Over the last 6-8 weeks, we have watched the international community brought to its collective knees financially, mentally, and emotionally; we are being forced to look for a way to rebuild the social structures necessary to maintain the most basic fabric of society. However, upon closer examination, we see that we do not require a complete and total rebuild–only a dusting off and reevaluation of values and societal structures that have existed since the beginning of time.
As women, throughout every era we have continued to bear, raise, and care for the generations of people within our spheres of influence. We see to their needs to the best of our abilities, often at the expense of our own. We have an innate sense when there is an imbalance in our communities and can often feel solutions to problems before they are fully defined. Situations like the global pandemic we are experiencing only serve to reinforce the instincts that have propelled the human race forward through generations.
Whether we find ourselves caring for our own children, those of extended family members, neighbors, or complete strangers, there is wisdom to be learned and passed between generations. I know in my own life that I am extremely grateful for the women who have raised and mentored me, both within the walls of my home and within the reach of my voice.
As women and mothers, we know that there are often intricate developmental issues and complex feelings at play, and there is rarely a one-size-fits-all solution. As an individual, we can only do so much for our children and our families. There have been many times as a mother that I have been blessed by the thoughtfulness and perceptiveness of a family member, a neighbor or friends’ mom in relation to my child–something I had missed that was clearly an issue, but was resolved by someone who loved my child as fiercely as I did, with a mother’s heart.
Last year, just after my mom had passed, my oldest daughter who was struggling mightily with school made the difficult decision to drop her classes at a remote in-state junior college and move home. I was mostly numb with grief and my husband was busy trying to keep the household running, our three youngest going, and still keep up a harrowing travel schedule with his demanding job. After one week at home, my daughter and her boyfriend of 16 months broke up, and to say she was distraught would be an understatement. But I had nothing, no emotional reserves to tell her it would be okay, that she would bounce back, that life would go on.
Enter Aunt Holli. Holli lives in Pittsburgh and she’s one of my daughter’s faves! She was the last in-law to come into our family and is super loud and fun just like I USED to be! It became clear pretty quick that we needed an intervention of some sort, so we booked a plane ticket and my daughter was Pittsburgh-bound. She spent three glorious weeks in The ‘Burgh and got to make all sorts of new friends as an “adult.” She was no longer someone’s kid, she was a grown-up in her own right and was able to talk with her much wiser and more life-experienced aunt and uncle and gain insight into what life might hold for her once she returned home from the Keystone State.
That time with Aunt Holli was just what we ALL needed! It gave us all the time and perspective we needed to come to terms with what real life was going to be like going forward, with an adult child living at home. Holli and her other young mother friends in Pittsburgh were able to give my daughter the love and attention that she needed at that particular point in time; and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Whether the children we love and raise are our own, our family members or just those who need a little extra push and faith that we can provide, our little drops add up to create the mighty wave that moves lives forward in ways that will ultimately and undeniably affect the generations of the future in the most positive of ways.
Keeping our connections healthy seems to require the involvement of many people. We just are not made to live alone. That is how the world is changing. We are finally able to focus on the relationships we have with the very people we love most instead of spending more time at the office with strangers than with our loved ones at home.
I think we should seriously consider the lives of those who are forced to live away from their loved ones and find a way to change this. I think we can. I think women have been the drivers behind innovation in every generation. Now is no different.