Privilege Blog

Comfort Or The Fight, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:06am

I have a weekend full of children to enjoy. A friend of mine in London just gave birth, and I am encouraging her to distribute lots of “baby spam.” Today I’m going to the 4th birthday of two cute twins I met in their first week of life and have celebrated ever since. It’s possible one of my own children might stop by later.

Motherhood works for me. Sometimes I’d like to mother an entire town. Or at least a neighborhood.

I wonder, what would it be like to live in a matriarchy? A society in which the skills of mothering – not the actual requirement to be a mother (of course) – were the most valued? Comforting, scaffolding, the whole gamut of Looking Out For. Do you ever think about that?

I suppose for now we largely believe as we did in early days – the fight matters most. Many societies still believe that if we don’t fight, we don’t live. And while that’s probably true, I don’t think it’s the most important truth today.

Ah well. Off to buy birthday presents. I’ve always been a last minuter – at least I’ve learned not to try and wrap presents in the trunk of my car. That was chaotic, a strategy for the young and relatively foolish.

Have a great weekend. Maybe today we celebrate the mothering skill of of patting someone on the back, held to our shoulder in a dark night room, or under our shoulder, standing at a field of play.

33 Responses

  1. I love being a mom. When the girls were little was a marvelous, magical time. I still enjoy them and love to do things that are age appropriate. We go out for happy hour now and I love that as much as I did taking them to run around a park. Mothering changes yet the love never does.

    Enjoy your weekend!

  2. I’m one of those people who really wasn’t into being a Mom. I became one because it was what one did, and of course, I fell madly in love with my little babies. However, there was so much I wanted to do in life – finish my degree was the main one. I think my children were shortchanged – and so was I. Now, I am so into being a Grandmother. I still don’t want to do day-to-day childcare. However, I take so much joy in spending time with my grandchildren. It is wonderful to have this gift at this point in my life.

    1. @MarcyLuna, How refreshingly honest you are. With that kind of self awareness I can’t help but think you gave your children much more than you give yourself credit for.

    2. I am sometimes tired of being a mom. I gave it my all when our children were growing up–but now I still sometimes worry and find it to be draining.

      And while I love being a grandmother, I don’t necessarily like to be totally in charge. I enjoy our grandchildren most when their parents are present and I can just play with them–not worry about feeding them, keeping them safe, getting them to sleep—etc. etc.

      And, I feel a bit guilty for how I feel.

  3. I didn’t get to be a real mom – I was unable to have children. But when I married my husband I became step-mother to a wonderful 12 year old (who is now 52!). He and my DIL have given me two fabulous grandsons and she has been kind enough to let me have a tremendous amount of time with them. From about 4 months old until they started school, every Friday was Nana/Papa day and we took care of the boys while their mom ran her errands and enjoyed a little “me” time. It worked for all of us and has led to deep, meaningful relationships with the boys.

    BTW, one of the best inventions ever was gift bags – no need for scissors or tape. Just plop the gift in and surround it with tissue paper. I’ve always been a late wrapper and can’t tell you how many times I’ve been doing the gift bag thing while my husband was driving us to a party!

  4. Nurturing is a vastly underrated quality in today’s world. I see mothers when I’m out totally ignoring their children, no connection at all while the mother shops til she drops or is checking her latest FB status. I worry about those children and what sort of adults they will become. Little premature babies fail to thrive if they are not touched and spoken to, so hospitals have volunteer ‘mums’ who come in to stroke and cuddle them. How about car accident victims trapped in their cars until the rescue people can cut them out, kept alive just by the first responder taking to them and telling them they will make it through, help is the way and they will be fine. I agree Lisa. Let matriarchy rule. We have so much to give.

  5. have you read norman rush’s MATING? it’s been a decade and change, so i can’t offer a nuanced synopsis, but it’s heavy on the matriarchy and, as i recall, the product of brilliant primary tesearch. (rush was in the peace corps in africa.) hazily – but highly – recommended.

  6. I definitely have a “maternal template” which I enjoy, but can also get me into trouble by trying to help too many people at the same time, and somewhat ignoring my own needs.
    Nevertheless, it’s who I am, I’ve accepted it, and finally feel proud of it too.

    1. @KSL, That’s the key, to finally feel proud, not to see it as a secondary or disappearing act. It’s front and foremost.

  7. I loved the generality of your post, the generous extension of nurturing beyond Mothering as a specific act, directed at one’s own children. . . Personally, I love seeing the way my sons-in-law and sons nurture, and yesterday I was at a glorious lunch hosted by a Turning-65-Friend who wanted to celebrate — and nurture! — the women friends who had nurtured her through her life (while recognizing and honouring the men who’d done the same). So much room for so many kinds of comfort-giving. As much as the Fight is needed, in social activism as you suggest, some of us like to know that our Nurturing is another valuable approach. Thanks for the reminder — I’m very happy to imagine you, joyous among all those Fours ;-)

    1. @Frances/Materfamilias, Thank you very much – you have expanded on my post so very well. And the Fours, and their baby siblings, just the plain and simple conversations you can have about why you are now leaving for the airport. Seems like so much room for hope in those talks without assumptions.

  8. I love love love being a Mum. I’m genetically programmed to love feeding and cleaning up after people. I don’t mind it when they’re sick of fractious either. It’s a gift to be able to do it. I hope I’ll always be able to spend time with kids even when my son is a big boy. X

    1. @Ff, It is as gift to be able to do it. I admit I am less all-giving these days, and less tolerant of fractiousness, but I still give my all when I’m really needed. And love to do it.

  9. We mustn’t get too sentimental about living in a “matriarchy” – it could turn out to be more like “Mean Girls with nuclear weapons” (whether metaphorically or actually) than we allow ourselves to imagine!

    Seriously, it’s hard to know how the “female values” (such as care, compassion, support) we cherish would function in a world which de-values or attempts to eliminate the so-called “male values” of competition and destruction. Perhaps all these values are held by both women AND men, and come into play depending on the situation.

    My question is: How would women express their beings and live fully, in a world without men? Or more accurately, without having to consider men, or being affected by men? Would the negative aspects of the way women sometimes treat each other (and themselves) vanish, because it is the very presence of men (and their power over us) that distorts our behavior?

    I have no answers, but having lived and worked in all-female situations, I think the question is worth asking!

    And please keep on sharing your own thoughts about the spectrum of “values” and how we live our lives. We are all seekers along similar paths, and together, we may find our way…

    1. @Victoire, I was perhaps unclear? I do not assume that a “matriarchy” means “women.” I meant is as “a society governed by mothering behaviors.” And anyone, of any gender or relationship to the bearing of and caring for children, can behave in a “mother” way.

  10. Nothing better than a motherly touch and I see you are a master (mistress) at it, but that does not surprise me having read your nurturing posts for these past few years.


    1. @Chronica Domus, Thank you very much. And as I’ve pointed out above, mother, stepmother, corporate executive who cares for others and discplines them and mentors them with a compassionate touch, all good;).

  11. Mothering is different for each. Some nurture more than others. Finding what is right for the individual is important. Otherwise, striving all the time is exhausting. A friend and her extended family are building a compound for their clan. She feels, having everybody near, shares responsibilities and provides a great support system for all, young, middle aged and elderly. Interesting experiment.

    1. @Susan, It is different for each, not only are the mothers different, the creatures they are mothering are all over the map. The best kind of mothering, IMO, isn’t measured by how much nurturing or caring one does, per se, but by how well one recognizes the needs of the system. The carers needs, the cared for needs.

  12. I am late,so I have the priviledge (ha, :-)!) to read all the comments,too
    I don’t think that matriarchy and all connected skills and values, exclude men,in ancient societies as well as (if it could be )today (except the Amazons myth :-)).
    I loved every minute of being Mum,but I accept and appreciate other attitudes or fate
    On the other hand,my professional life was very important to me,too
    I hope that your weekend was marvelous

    1. @Kathy, I’m late in my empty-nest stage, and I miss them too. I cherish and am grateful for the life I have – but I miss them too. xoxox.

  13. Hmm. Would a matriarchy necessarily value motherly virtues? A patriarchy doesn’t often seem to value fatherly virtues!

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