If you have read my previous blogs you will have realised that I’ve had a lot to say about how much of the time parenting comes from the ego, from fear and a desire to manipulate and control kids and how this desire for control is deeply destructive to Self-Esteem.
That’s the downside.
Last Sunday I was reminded so profoundly of the upside.
I took a trip into the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy, just north of Johannesburg, where I once lived for 10 years. It is 18 months since I’ve been there and I was visiting a very special place.
When my mother died five years ago at the age of 87 we planted a Karee tree and buried her ashes with it. The headline picture of this blog is the tree as it is today.
So I sat there on this beautiful day, beside the tree and I remembered with much gratitude my mother and all she did for me.
By the way, she had a very beautiful name, which she was very proud of. Hadassah.
A Troubled Relationship.
Hadassah and I had a very troubled relationship for the first 52 years of my life. Up until that time I had what I call intimacy phobia and it played out most destructively in my relationship with her. I fought her and battled with her and struggled with her for decades.
I tried everything that I knew psychologically and spiritually to transform my resentments and resistances to her, until that point in time, but I failed miserably. (I sometimes tell the mothers who have sons with this intimacy phobia about my own issues regarding this, to help them to put their difficulties into perspective.)
I have untold gratitude to Dr. John Demartini for his method that opened my heart to Hadassah.
So it really was a blessing to be able to feel more connected and to be a more loving son for the last six or seven years of her life and it was indeed really wonderful to be with Sue, my partner, when she passed on, lying in bed one afternoon after a very simple medical procedure, laughing and joking and chatting and then suddenly, without warning or fanfare, she gasped somewhat gently for breath and was gone.
She didn’t get to eat the Haagen-Dazs ice cream which Sue had bought for her.
Who knows who got to eat it?
My mother was a great exponent of the malapropism – using an incorrect word in place of another one with a similar sounding word. She used to call the ice cream, which she really loved, ‘Hadedaz ice cream’, after the bird’s name. It is really wonderful to remember her so very fondly with all of the amusing mistakes she used to make.
The Gifts She Gave Me.
Kids can be extraordinary selfish and I was no exception. What truly and utterly amazes me today is the extent to which I took so many of the things that my mother (and father) gave to me, for granted and so these are things that I remembered, sitting beside the tree, gazing at the beautiful hills, grass lands and magnificent blue sky.
The endless rides to sporting events and parties and friends and movies and doctors and dentists.
The amazing meals she cooked for me, my favourite being roast beef with all the trimmings and the best lemon meringue pie this side of the North Pole. The shopping for me and the buying of clothes and the Chelsea buns after gym classes and the special treats of double thick milkshakes and hamburgers whenever she caved in to my pleading.
The endless supply of sugary chocolate cakes and biscuits and desserts which I so loved and which so destroyed my teeth.
The only wanting the best for me and believing that I was special.
The refurbishing of my bedroom when I was away on a camping trip. The subscriptions that she bought me for the mind alive and science magazines that so enthralled me. The endless supply of books to read. Attending to me when I was sick and believe me it was very often. Her wonderful love of words and language and the gift of her amazing vocabulary.
The ‘wanting’ me to be happy, so well intentioned. The wanting me to look good in the clothes she bought me, the Datsun SSS she bought when I was 20, mostly because it was the car that I wanted to drive!
Courage and Risk.
I have talked often and written about risk vs avoidance in this Self-Esteem work. How the more we avoid, the more our Self-Esteem implodes.
Where did I get this from? In a word, Hadassah.
On a psychological level the gift of her immense courage has been a blessing of unspeakable beauty.
Her ability to risk doing the things which she didn’t like doing was one of her defining and most heroic features.
Making the difficult phone calls, doing her duty, visiting the sick and the dying, confronting conflict, doing what was difficult and unpleasant, all of the things that we really avoid doing, she would attack with veracity and commitment.
If you are a really sensitive person like me then you will know very well what it means to be addicted to harmony. That really powerful urge, that intense desire, to avoid conflict and pain and chaos. My ability to face and confront life’s challenges with speed and commitment and power came directly from Hadassah.
I just love the concept of Ubuntu. A person is a person because of other people. In other words, you don’t exist outside of all the people who fed and clothed and protected and served your needs. You don’t exist outside of the people who help you to do your job, who built your home, who made your car, who invented the PC and the internet and electricity and water on tap.
Indeed, everything exists because of everything else. Nothing, absolutely nothing is independent of anything else.
So while you are doing ‘things’ all of these people are inside of you, right now. There is a deep and abiding connection of everything to everything else.
Hadassah, the thousands of hours of love and care are still dancing inside of everything I do and am, right up into this present moment.
What a gift!
When I work with adolescents these days I often say to them: “Have you ever thought about how much your parents have given to you?” Mostly they just look blank.
Kids are so much of the time just ‘wanting’ and consuming machines. They don’t honour how much their parents do for them, but notice what they don’t do.
I often wonder how I would have reacted if some wise adult had come up to me when I was 13 years old and had said: “Have you ever thought about all of the things that your parents do for you and what your life would be like if you didn’t have them there to do all of these things for you?”
It’s impossible to go back to when we were kids to say thank you to our mothers for the gift they have been in our lives but if they’re still alive, what I ask, is stopping you now?
In Love & Power,