Mother’s Day is tomorrow in the US. I’m an aunt, not a mother, although I have reached the age where the biological clock is ticking and I have to decide what that means to me.
Having nieces and nephews gives you a sort of strange perspective on motherhood. You are close enough to see the challenges of being a mother and far enough away to analyze and think of how you would do things differently. While my nieces and nephews are the smartest, funniest and cutest children (and young adults) on the planet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes think “If they were my kids….”
Recently one of the precocious youngsters in my family felt it was appropriate to tell me, in detail, how I am going to burn forever in Hell. Because they care about me. I was apalled, not because they believe I’m doomed to burn in some vengeful, jealous God’s Hell, but because they had the audacity to speak that way to an elder in their family.
A 12-year-old thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to correct her aunt on religious matters. I’m appalled. At that age I would have been spanked and grounded for having said such a thing to one of my aunts or uncles. The child assured me that my sister and brother-in-law would see nothing wrong in what they did when I tried to explain how rude their behavior was, and I believe them.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The whole incident has me questioning again the role of motherhood and what it means to me as a Pagan. With my nieces and nephews being raised as either secular or a tunnel-vision version of Christian, do I owe my ancestors a different type of child? A child raised with the manners and virtues handed down through the generations of my family who sought freedom and prosperity here in this land? A child who honors the land, the ancestors and the Gods? A child who respects and loves the culture her family comes from?
Children are a crap-shoot in many ways. Out of my siblings I am the one who remains in love with the land and culture we were raised in and our ancestors come from, yet I am also the one who left the faith of our fathers. A mother must trust that if they raise a child a certain way that it will guide them all their lives, and yet out of the alchemy of puberty who knows what will arise?
I find myself thinking of what right to motherhood I have. While I think any mother should be prepared to be a single mother, even if only due to unforseen future tragedy, yet I can’t feel for me that it’s right for me to embark as a single mother. As a Pagan, is it more important to pass along the lore of my DNA to the next generation, or should I adopt, knowing as one lovely Asatru lady said so beautifully, “we are all the children of Ask and Embla”?
What role models should I seek out? I am no Hera, no Cerridwen, no Isis and no Demeter. I am finding Kharis and Selu a stronger presence in my life lately, with their strong, thoughtful and earthy ideas of motherhood flowing in strangely strong UPG to me. All the lovely Pagan women in my life have each crafted their own path, whether they raise children or choose to remain childless. I watch them and learn from them and wonder at how to create my own path.
Choosing motherhood and approaching it mindfully is a strange gift of being a Pagan woman. There is no mandate for me to “be fruitful” and many paths to choose from, and yet it is not a choice devoid of religious implications. I remember vividly that after losing my virginity my religious world was shaken up. I had left the realm of Artemis and embarked on a new journey with new companions. If I embark on motherhood, what changes will that create in my life, both religious and mundane?
The only thing I am certain of, is that my contemplation of motherhood leaves me with a profound sense of respect for women who choose that path. Raising a child is a daunting thing, and raising a child with Pagan values, if not Pagan religion, an even more momentous accomplishment. As a childless woman I salute you, admire you and hope to learn from you. Blessed be the mothers!