Monday, May 9, 2011

The Mother Tree

Mom is at the top of the decision tree of life.  Born?  Yes-continue journey on this plane.  No-continue journey on metaphysical plane.  Survive?  Yes-see above.  No-see above.  Thrive?  Yes.   Get first tooth?  Yes.  Lose first tooth?  Yes.  Shortly thereafter, the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure of adolescence and adulthood begin; try not to get captured by aliens or eaten by a sea monster.

I believe a mother's presence remains in those brackets, sometimes consciously, but more often not.  And if we become mothers ourselves, there is that moment that we will hold our child and know, as in Tina Fey's wonderful poem:

"My mother did this for me.  My mother did this for me."
My Mom
I know women who are estranged from their mothers, but in this divergence there is an influence as well.  I know of a consultant who coaches women on speaking without using their mother's voice; I have seen my own Mother consciously choose to break certain maternal patterns with which she grew up.  Most of the time, I suspect, we are not even aware of how our mothers affect our choices.
And here's me, just a few hours after becoming a mother for the first time
And a few days later, after I had gotten a shower
The capital "B" bad decisions in my life have yielded better outcomes, pound for pound, than many of the capital "G" good decisions, but the Good decisions have had their day as well. 

"Bad" decision - To quit soul-destroying but steady job in remunerative industry immediately after getting a mortgage - I have never regretted that decision for a minute.  Not that it did not have ramifications - we sold the house at a loss seven years later after I decided to stay home with our kids - but we have been nothing but grateful and astounded at our good fortune all along the way. 

"Good" decision - To put myself in the hospital on September 3, 2010, and trust the universe to deal with the unanswered questions.  No regrets there, either, although certainly the consequences of that decision were manifold.  Such is the nature of the decision tree.

Of course, it has gone the other way, too.  "Bad" decision - Making no effort to immerse myself in the social opportunities at college my freshman year on the grounds that I didn't have anything in common with most of my classmates.  If it had not been for the dogged efforts of a few of my dorm-mates to ignore my self-absorption and superiority and drag me around, I would be adrift without my husband or many of my dearest friends (not to mention more than a few valuable lessons). 

"Good" decision - To keep an important commitment one Sunday afternoon during Winter term, senior year of high school, rather than spend the day at a party in the woods with my crew.  That one has haunted me for years; I still wonder if I could have changed my plans.

Now here it is, more than fifteen years later.  I find myself at the top of two little decision trees, wondering what the "Good" and "Bad" decisions will be for these amazing new people.  Do I dare to hope that the whispered voice of the mother-presence in their unconscious will be:

"Follow Your Dreams. 

-Except for the ones where you find yourself in a meeting with no pants, or show up for an exam without having attended the class.  Don't do that.

But all the rest of them.  Float to the island when it is time to float, but don't be afraid to grab the tree and shake the fruit off when you arrive."?

What are the seeds of the Mother-Tree?

1 comment:

  1. More and more I find that my "decisions" are often not that, but something that arises and in me and insists to be expressed. If I regret anything, it is that I did not bare my teeth sooner and make my case more clearly. It is harder to ignore what one would prefer not to here when it is stated firmly with solid logic.