Sunday, June 24, 2007

the trouble with anthropomorphizing

Mothering is a bitch. I like being a mom. Mostly. But it does come with its share of afflictions. Just ask the Great Blue Herons that nest 100 yards from my house. The mothers go out to feed and while they're away the crows and eagles attack and eat the heron young. My problem isn't quite that dire. There are days, however, when I wouldn't mind an eagle dropping in from out of the lovely blue and snatching away one or more of my young . . .

I am way too involved in my grown daughter's life. Not so much with my grown son's life, however. This is somewhat due to the fact that he lives 350 miles away from me for most of the year. And also because he is quietly insistent on us keeping boundaries. Good for him. Wise move. Somehow, it is different between my daughter and me.

[Ironically, as I compose these thoughts on mothering, Number One is watching something on The History Channel about Nero making two assassination attempts on his mother before finally having her clubbed to death because she was too controlling. Karma's a bitch too.]

I am not the only one. I have several friends with grown children who struggle with those hopelessly knotted apron strings. We know it's unhealthy for us and for our children. But detaching . . . DETACHING . . . I can't even begin to describe it because this medium doesn't translate the facial expressions and hand gestures and guttural groans necessary to pass on the depth of expression. Detachment is a bitch.

But any human with half a brain knows not to keep hitting her head against the wall and instead search for another way out of the room. And so I look in other places for inspiration. How do other cultures manage to respectfully loose the bonds with their children? How did our foremothers handle that task? And what about the animal kingdom--mother bears, mother hens, mother snakes--they all seem to let go of their maternal grasp at a predestined, and healthy, time in their offspring's lifespan.

I enjoy birdwatching. I particularly love watching the Great Blue Herons. Sitting on the dock today, I was watching the Blue Heron parents out for feeding. It struck me that it's not the same as me scurrying to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner. The herons are measured. Methodical. They stand, observing for long periods of time. They patiently seek the richest hunting ground of the day and quietly, slowly stalk their prey.

I could learn a lot from the Blue Herons. I could be more patient about everything I do with my kids. I could stand back and watch carefully. I could choose my moments. I could be quiet and let things unfold in their own time instead of rushing in headlong where I don't belong.

Then again, while the herons are being all slow and methodical and patient, their children are being snacked upon by predators. Screw the herons. I'll just keep on hitting my head against the wall. Eventually a large enough hole will open up for me to escape.