Empty Altar Essays: Family Values
Communities of support are possible, they exist, and they are necessary for both mother and child to claim their full humanity at the same time. This does not mean that both get to do everything they wish anytime they wish. This means that neither is sacrificing SELF for the other. It means that both mother and child are seen as human beings worthy of care, time, and respect.
So, what would it look like if our society actually valued mothers and mothering as much as we like to pretend that we do on the second Sunday in May? There would be systemic changes at all levels of government. There would be shake-ups in corporate America, as well. Universal paid parental leave, universal healthcare, possibly a state income for parents - who knows? What I do know for sure is that the changes would be deep and they would reflect the full humanity of mothers and respect for the work of mothering.
My work is not on a national, state, or even a local level. My work is person to person.
So what would it be like if you were respected as a human being AND as a mother; respected by your family, your friends, and by yourself? How would your life change if you were at the center of it?
The truth is that you are the center of your family. You are the sun in their sky. They will revolve around you whether you are healthy or not, whether you are fulfilled in your role as a mother and flourishing, or not. And so your choice comes back to you. How do you want to live? What is it that you believe you deserve?
There is no one behind the altar.
White supremacist capitalist patriarchy has lied to you. If has fed you a steady diet of insecurity and binary thinking, but you know better. You know there is more to this, more to motherhood, more to life. You know that you were born worthy and that your worth is both intrinsic and immutable. Nothing that has happened to you, nothing that you have done changes is. You. Are. Worthy.
And you know that you are the one your children will model their own parenting after. So what is the motherhood journey that you want for your own child(ren). And if that is what you want from them then why will you not claim it for yourself?
You can stand in the center of your life. You can stand whole and healed (or healing) in the center of your family. You can know what it is that you want and need. You can communicate those needs clearly to your family and you can have those needs met. You can set boundaries with your family clearly and firmly.
Your job is not to make your children as happy as possible every day. Your job is to raise healthy human beings. Your job is to live your life as wholly as possible.
You get to be honest.
You get to be seen.
You get to be real.
You get to need.
You get to want.
You get to feel.
You get to say no.
You get to choose you.
You get to heal.
These things take work. Change rarely happens all on its own. There must be a choice and a reclamation. This is why I wrote The Mother’s Bill of Rights series, to inspire mothers to reclaim their personhood from parenthood.