Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Cult of Another Sort...

Both of my parents are still alive. I have friends however who have lost a parent in death. When I speak to them of the issues I have with my mother, they often tell me how much I'll miss her when she's gone. I don't buy it. They tell me how much they wish they'd tried to make peace with their parent, how much they wish they'd said or did with them before they died. Nope, as far as I'm concerned, I've done and said all I need to do and say with regards to my mother.

I think that when a parent dies, it is not the person we grieve, it is the relationship with them that we never had that we grieve. It is the realization that the relationship we wished and hoped to have with them since we were a small child was never there to be had, that it never will be had, and now, there is nothing left to be done. When I left the Jehovah's Witness cult three years ago, I went through a deep grieving process. I realized that the relationship I had with my mother was based on my staying a JW. Once I left, any bond we had disappeared. I was no longer willing to stay enmeshed in her crazy cult dynamic. The grief I felt was for the mother I never had.

Frankly, as it stands right now, if my mother died tomorrow, I would grieve for the life she never lead, for the children she never saw, for the joy she could have experienced. But I will not grieve that she is no longer here, no longer part of my life. I have done that grieving. In fact, I would feel relieved that the ties that bind are freed and that maybe, just maybe, my brother, my father and I could have some semblance of normalcy before my father passes on. But life is a pain in the ass...I'm sure my father will die first (men usually do) and my brother and I will be left with this woman called mother.

We put parents on a pedestal, like their choice to unite an egg and a sperm was some altruistic decision based in love and awareness. And for the rest of our lives, we excuse all manner of behavior based on these illusions of what we owe them for the sacrifices they've made on our behalf. It's bullshit. It's all bullshit. If I met my mother in any other context, there's no chance in hell I'd let her be part of my life. Yet somehow, this word mother confers upon her a "get-out-of-jail-free" card. Why? Why should she be treated differently than any other human being I interact with? I would not accept this type of treatment from anyone else, yet somehow I've been socialized and programmed to think it's okay. It's crap. I grew up in two cults: the JW's and the cult of the mother. The former was much easier to deprogram than the latter. What a mindfuck.

Edited to add: I think the bearing of children is the greatest ego-trap of our time. What makes anyone think that adding their genetic code and their particular parenting style to another living being is going to bring anything good to this planet? With a world filled with unwanted children, crap parenting, war, strife and other reflections of a demented collective consciousness, what makes someone think that their adding another soul to the morass is a good thing?

tall penguin

10 comments:

Rich Beckman said...

Although I agree that you may not miss your mother more than you think, don't be surprised if her death does not affect you more than you think.

"...what makes someone think that their adding another soul to the morass is a good thing?"

Truly the words of someone who is not yet a parent.

I can see an argument that becoming a parent is a selfish act, but I haven't met too many who wish their parents had not bothered.

There's nothing better than kids.

tall penguin said...

"Truly the words of someone who is not yet a parent."

Crappy argument. And you assume something you shouldn't.

"I can see an argument that becoming a parent is a selfish act, but I haven't met too many who wish their parents had not bothered."

I did not say it was a selfish act. I said it could be seen as the greatest trap of the ego. I think very few parents enter into the decision with an honest awareness of why they're having a child. And while I now enjoy life for the most part, I still wish that my parents hadn't bothered.

"There's nothing better than kids."

If you knew me in person, you'd know that I have a deep love for children. I see them in a way that most adults do not. I have a very innate bond with children, have worked with them professionally for most of my life and consider children the truest gifts on the planet. It is for that reason that I consider the decision to parent so highly. I've met few people that consider the decision with as much awareness.

zensim said...

"We put parents on a pedestal, like their choice to unite an egg and a sperm was some altruistic decision based in love and awareness."

We put the 'ideal' on a pedastal - because to conceive a child in true love and awareness is the ultimate form of creation and unconditional love.

The fact that most children are not FULLY consciously conceived in purity and wholeness (nor birthed, parented etc) is wherein lies your pain and everyone elses.

tall penguin said...

"The fact that most children are not FULLY consciously conceived in purity and wholeness (nor birthed, parented etc) is wherein lies your pain and everyone elses."

Yes.

WisdomofWoof said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Tall. I certainly could not be as eloquent, either. Parenting has been reduced to "the next logical step in life" for so many. A default. Something to resign oneself to. What a waste.

Elessa said...

i haven't seen my parents in three years. going to at the end of this month. truly a relationship where they haven't been a part of my life for over twenty years and i am not bothered by it. never was a close family.

besides, there is nothing like waking in the night as the eldest of four children to hear the parents arguing. hearing the words, "if you hadn't gotten pregnant we would never have gotten married." yeah, nice to know i was wanted...

vanessa said...

Reading this post as a "child" and reading this post as a "parent" elicit two completely different reactions in me.

As a child, I can see some of your points, and I had a relatively happy childhood (parenting-wise), and I always felt wanted by my parents.

As a parent, this post seems really bitter and sad.

So therein lies my dilemma of how to reply.

xo

falterer said...

"When a parent dies, it is not the person we grieve, it is the relationship with them that we never had that we grieve. ... Why should she be treated differently than any other human being I interact with?"

There's a dissonance there. You're suggesting your mother shouldn't be treated differently from any other person in your life, but you expect to grieve her differently from other people. It sounds as though you have an ideal in your mind that your mom's failed to meet. Maybe what you expect to grieve is your relationship with that ideal mom, not the real mom you will have ultimately lost.

I give my own mother (and father) special designations because they contributed to my identity in unique and intimate ways. That contribution to my past still exists now that my mom's required to shun me. I don't think the mechanics of bereavement are so simple I could pin them down to any one cause, but whoever I grieve, death will have stopped my relationship with them from reaching any further, so what you say about grieving relationships that could have been, is at least partly true for me.

Perhaps all that tells us is that everyone's experience in life is different, and experiences with parents and parenting aren't uniformly positive or negative.

Remember, as Jehovah's Witnesses, we called each other "brother" and "sister". That's no coincidence. Cults try to mimic nuclear families because of their intimacy. I think it's unfair to suggest a "cult of the mother" because you're effectively criticizing the family for being too much like something that's purposely trying to mimic it! Now THAT's a mind-... er... you know...

In answer to your last (edited to add) question: the desire to contribute our genes to humanity's pool is biological, but that does not mean it's cynical. The questions you ask about parents are not the questions people ask themselves when they consider bringing a life into this world or adopting one. The existence of a whole industry selling advice for parents is testament to the fact that it's the exception for anyone to think their "particular parenting style" is superior; and anyone who has delusions about the superiority of their genes need only reflect on the accomplishments of this year's Olympic athletes. I don't really know why people want to become parents, but I know those aren't the reasons, and the effort seems to expensive and daunting to me for their reasons to seem merely selfish or cynical.

tall penguin said...

"As a parent, this post seems really bitter and sad. "

Probably both. Doesn't mean the points aren't valid. All I'm asking is that people wake up to what it is they're doing when they decide to have a child and why they're doing it.

It's strange to me that you have to go to University for a number of years to even get a basic job in most places, yet any two people with an egg and a sperm can decide to be parents. No training required. There is no job so important as parenting, yet it's one that is delved into with so little awareness.

tall penguin said...

"I think it's unfair to suggest a "cult of the mother" because you're effectively criticizing the family for being too much like something that's purposely trying to mimic it!"

I guess my point is the realization that parents need to be taken off the pedestal and realize they're just mortal human beings who need to take responsibility for their actions like everyone else. It would seem that society has raised the label "mother" and "father" to such a status that it precludes them from scrutiny.

Perhaps I no longer resonate with the idea of "honor thy father and mother." I can honor you as a human being, as I honor all human beings. To honor you in the role of parent requires that you fulfill the role of parent well. I'm learning to separate the two. The woman I call mother is a decent human being, who is doing the best she can. In the role of mother, she has come up short. It is what it is. The more I learn to separate the two, the better our relationship is.

"I don't really know why people want to become parents, but I know those aren't the reasons, and the effort seems to expensive and daunting to me for their reasons to seem merely selfish or cynical."

I find it interesting that my questioning why people have children is being interpreted as my calling parenting selfish or cynical. And I'm willing to concede that my words may betray something I was not fully aware of when I wrote them.

You say yourself you don't know why people want to become parents. I think it's a valid question worth exploring. I think that if we could all become more aware of such things we could all do a better job of parenting ourselves and our children.

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." --Albert Einstein