Monday, May 13, 2013

The Best Mom In The World

"Tell me about your mother."

In this scene from Bladerunner, Holden is attempting to determine whether Leon is a replicant, or non-human AI being (ten points if you knew that).

Each Mother's Day, I think of this line and the implication that having, or having had, a mother (in whatever incarnation), is the essential quality of humanness.

When Richie Havens howled  "FREEDOM!" from the Woodstock stage, from what song was he was crying out? "Motherless Child."

The characterization of the American nineteen-eighties as a time of spiritual alienation is often illustrated by the supposed catharsis of blaming one's mother from the psychiatrist's couch.

So what is all this crap about "The Best Mom In The World!"? Did I have one? Am I one? According to Facebook and Hallmark, we all did, and are, which is clearly malarkey because "best" is an exclusive, objective designation.

Last year on Mother's Day, my mom said she hoped that, in attempting to live life fully, she had made some contribution toward my own efforts (or words to that effect). Is that true, and does it matter?

The cliche of the "awesome responsibility" of motherhood endures because it resonates. A benefit of the unfathomable demand for resources that a newborn requires is that I was too busy and shocked to reflect long enough to collapse under the weight of this existential burden. The dissonance of cosmic perspective, the everything-ness and nothing-ness of our travels on this coil unfolding to infinity; it is a good thing that I had to spend so many nights of my first months as a mother pacing the freezing floors clutching a wailing child, or I might have spent those midnight hours listening to my ears ring and my heart beat with terror.

As it was, it was startlingly easy. I never felt that terror. There was too much to do, just learning to be.

That is the great crux of it, then. In making me a mother, my first son made me THE mother, to him and to myself. If motherhood is the origin of all things, it must encompass, with the scaling and the soaring and the blue, blue sky, the discordant cataract of misery's river and the calm eddy and pool of life's meanderings. Sometimes I may follow my mother's path, or stray unknowingly, or choose to depart, or cringe at its ravinic plunge as I cling to the rocks above. If I'm aware of the relationship between our paths, it is only in retrospect.

If mindful attention to my own footsteps is wisdom's way, then in such action will I find myself a fully realized mother to my own children.

So Mom, I won't ever find an appropriate Hallmark card, most likely. You aren't The Best Mom In The World. You are THE ONLY Mom in the world. And that has made all the difference.