Monday, February 25, 2008

Starting this blog, called to mind several pieces about mothering I had written and published in the past. With my children grown now, its always heartwarming for me to take a look back and remember just how much they inspired me during their growing up years.

Mothering ... I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

When I was young, I had no great desire to get married or have children - it somehow didn't fit into the equation of my life ... an yet, here I sit, married nearly 18 years with two kids and wouldn't have it any other way.

For someone that showed very few maternal instincts as a youth, I did an "about face" when my children actually came along; I suddenly believed in natural childbirth, breast-feeding, stay-at-home-mothering, and homeschooling - all of which I did with a passion (and I'm still homeschooling my youngest today). Its interesting how those little faces can miraculously transform our original conception of the world ... and our place in it.

Somewhere we make that jump - that transition - from being children ourselves to raising children of our own. And on that sometimes, wonderful, sometimes bumpy journey, we grow up and grow into a way of life that brings out the best in us.

Mothering these last 16 years, I have given more than I have taken, been awake a whole lot more than I have been asleep, and have been blessed more than I could have imagined. Its a strange mixture of love, hope, frustration and fun ... and, no, I wouldn't have it any other way!

Reprinted from The Senior Review copyright © 1997 Jan J. Stover

A Mother's Work of Art

If I were but an artist
Who could make a paint brush dance
By placing brush to canvas
In a rare but timely dance

I'd paint the splendor of the moment
Capturing in time
The gentle transition
Of a babe no longer mine

To a little boy discovering
Venturing out into to world
Standing still and at the same time
Into the future he seems hurled

If I were but an artist
Who could make a paint brush soar
I would paint this little being
As I've ne'er seen him before

Capturing on canvas
His clumsiness and grace
The frustration and accomplishment
Both seen upon his face

The child within the babe awakening to life
The babe within the child reckoning with strife

And if I were but an artist
Who could make a paint brush sing
I would paint with brilliant colors
The gladness this child brings

His temper and his tenderness
Would blend a brighter hue
Than any paint could on a pallet
Ever hope to do

And with each stroke would be revealed
The beginnings of a man
Arms outstretched to a world unknown
In hopes to understand.

Reprinted from The Senior Review copyright © 1997 Jan J. Stover

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What is Radical Responsible Mothering ?

Before I offer a definition of the term Radical Responsible Mothering, I thought it would be appropriate to first offer a sampling of Merriam-Websters’ definitions of the individual words: radical and responsible.

Radical: 1) of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: as of growing from the root of a plant 2) of or relating to the origin: fundamental 3) a: marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional: extreme, b: tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions c: of, relating to, or constituting a political group associated with views, practices, and policies of extreme change d: advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a (political) state of affairs.

Responsible: 1) a: liable to be called on to answer or to be called to account as the primary cause, motive, or agent; b: being the cause or explanation, c: liable to legal review or in case of fault to penalties 2) a: able to answer for one’s conduct and obligations: trustworthy b: able to choose for oneself between right and wrong 3) marked by or involving responsibility or accountability
I like these definitions - hearty, encompassing, flavorful - so much more than today’s often limited and skewed interpretation of the two terms.

Far too often, the word radical evokes negative connotations - when in fact it clearly defines motherhood at its core. Claiming Webster’s first and second definitions, to be radical means to be at the origin or the root of our children’s lives - their conception, birth and development from infancy to maturity. Claiming the third set of definitions we see motherhood at its best: ready, willing and able to step outside the norm, to investigate options, to make extreme changes - and to take on traditions, institutions and authorities for the sake of our children.

The word responsible traditionally carries with it positive overtones and its definition is perhaps more often understood than that of the word radical. Again, the practice of being responsible is a core principle of motherhood. Webster’s definition reminds us that we as mothers are the primary agents of our children’s health and well-being. We are also the cause of and explanation for much of the world around them. Clearly our own choices teach them right from wrong. And how we accept our own responsibility and accountability in the raising of our children will be reflected in them as they grow and mature.

Understanding these two words separately, gives us a better sense of their joint meaning. Radical Responsible Mothering suggests the importance of passing on personal core values, but with a pliable approach. Radical Responsible Mothering encourages mentoring with an open mind. And ultimately, Radical Responsible Mothering is the ever present awareness that there is no greater responsibility or privilege than to raise one’s children with a devotion and dedication that rises above the needs, impositions and mandates of society. Consequently, when the individual child is cared for, raised in love, allowed to flourish and create, both society and the individual are the benefactors!