On Mothering, part 3

If love doesn’t feel like benevolent light, it’s not love, it’s attachment. If you’re afraid of losing something and are grasping it tightly, that’s not love, it’s attachment. Love has no grasping, wanting, need, or fear of loss. It exists in a sea of itself. You can’t lose it. (Martha Beck)

When we speak of motherly love, it would seem to be quite straightforward—simple even. We all share a basic common understanding. Motherly love is self-less, forgiving, undying, and constant. Yes. Mostly. Often. Usually. But there’s more.

Martha Beck, with her inimitable grace and poignancy, reminds us that love (and I would emphatically include a mother’s love) must remain detached to be healthy and true.

How this contradicts the paradigm of motherhood most of us have come to accept! A mother who doesn’t cling or hold tightly to her children doesn’t really love them, we are told. A mother who doesn’t empty or martyr herself often enough isn’t worthy of the title. We have been socialized to believe that needing and grasping and fearing make us good mothers. Loving mothers.

How misguided we are. For the love, the truest, healthiest, most compassionate love, we have for our children emanates from open-hearted freedom, not constricted anxiety and fear.

The highest form of motherly love comes from our knowing that first we must love and accept and have compassion for ourselves. In order to love the child who is distinct from us, not a mere reflection of us, we must become love and allow it to flow through us without judgment or anxiety. Without needing the child to fill and define who we are.

This, then, is the motherly love I aspire to express and share. As I connect with the love of Source, of my true self, I both receive and then emanate it to my children. I share it freely with no expectation and no demands. I cannot lose this love, because I am one with it. And in this oneness, my children and I are complete.

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