Mom-n-Dad: the Archetype

nurtureI picked up Arnold Mindell’s book, Dreaming While Awake, the other day. It’s about 24-hour lucid dreaming. I ordered it because of my current obsession with Quantum Flirts, and this book roots around in Flirts, quantum physics, and the mind.

I appreciate this whole concept because I think it works – and it works well – if we allow ourselves to take the time in the moment to pay attention and do the work. Let me give you a taste of what I mean.

Over Mother’s Day weekend, I was pretty crabby. And just to set the record completely straight: I am not a mother. I AM a stepmother to a grown, really cool woman, and I am a mother to various four-legged creatures, and sometimes I feel like a mother to other assorted adults in my life. I did have a mother, and I know lots of mothers. I currently help mother three baby robins nested in the downspout (along with mama robin). That’s about the extent of it.

Now, where this crabbiness came from, I don’t know, and I didn’t stop to figure that part out, either. Maybe I should have. But, as I read one heart-felt posting after another on Facebook, along with some really treacly ones, and tributes on CNN, I finally ran across an article about how the founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, lobbied to rescind the holiday she lamented had been conscripted by commercialism.

Plus, I found a blog post that really spoke to me about how we marginalize women who aren’t mothers (or who have perhaps not had the happiest of motherhoods or childhoods), especially when well-meaning pastors ask all the mothers in the congregation to stand and be recognized. The writer nicely captured the unintended pressure of societal norms when one doesn’t fit them.

So I tossed my own mother’s day message into the ether via Facebook: “Happy mother’s day to all those who are mothers. And Happy Day also to anyone who nurtures something … whether the object of that nurturing happens to be humans, four-legged creatures, organizations, teams, flowers, knowledge, creativity or … well, just about anything … and who aren’t actually mothers, if you know what I mean.” A little prophetic, as you’ll see.

My underlying crabbiness remained, so I went to bed, and sleep generally helps. A week passed. And here’s where the Quantum Flirt comes in. I’m in a coaching session with a really fun client, and we’re in the middle of a “future self” visualization – a mental jaunt to discover yourself 20 years hence. The final question you ask your future self is: “what name, other than your given name, are you known by?” Now, it could be a metaphor or it could be a real name; that matters less than your interpretation.

My highly visual client promptly says, “Mom.” She has kids, so that’s a given. We began exploring the whole “Mom” name, frankly because the surprise in her voice intrigued me, too. And behold, I managed to pull out tremendous meaning for me from HER coaching experience.

In a nutshell, we decided “Mom” means many things. We even chased down the metaphor of an art teacher as Mom. When the young student offers a drawing to the teacher who posts it on the wall, it’s no different than Mom’s fridge. Teacher = Mom. It’s just a different kind of Mom.

Fast forward 24 hours. Today, I’m talking with a co-worker about moms and my own experience of what a Mom is, and I just stop, dumbfounded. Because I finally worked out what was behind my crabbiness and my posting on Facebook and my awe at what unfolded during coaching, and it’s simple, really.

We so often limit the concept of Mom to the rigidly defined outer role of “Mom: one who has birthed a child.” Sure, society has allowed that outer role to broaden a bit to include Adoptive Mom, and sometimes even Stepmom, but there’s still a subtle difference between Mom and those two monikers.

And here’s my learning: the true Mom concept – the archetype, if you will – is ever so much more. That is what my client’s experience and my Quantum Flirt 24 hours later led me to find.

Sure, Mom is an “outer role” as defined by societal norms, but it’s also an “inner role,” and, boy, it’s that inner role that’s infinitely broader, deeper and richer than society can ever dictate. The inner role of Mom is that art teacher posting students’ creations. It’s the tireless humane shelter worker who nurtures lost and abandoned pets. It’s the academic who births research, the gardener who nurtures plants, the writer who births novels. It’s the person who captures a cricket in the house and releases it outside. It’s the person who recycles, tossing trash in a bin rather than in the grass. It’s quite simply anyone who nurtures anything – human or not, animated or not, conceptual or real, grandiose or minute.

That’s huge! That’s a role that supercedes “Mom” in every possible way. And by extension, the role of Dad is the same: An outer role of “Dad: one who has sired a child,” and a rich, deep inner role that, like Mom, defies categorization and offers the same things – the teacher, the shelter worker, the academic, the writer, the gardener, the cricket savior, the recycler – anyone who nurtures something.

You might say that Mom and Dad are two halves of the same coin, like yin and yang. The role of Mom and Dad are interchangeable and inseparable, because they are the same. So whether you’re a Mom-n-Dad, or whether you have multiples of each, or only one or the other, or perhaps two of the same sex – or even if you are Mom-n-Dad to something like a garden or a room full of art students or some wayward crickets – why, count yourself blessed! Because whatever outer role is present – Dad or Mom – as long as it embodies the inseparable Mom-n-Dad inner role that underpins both, it’s a great and powerful thing. Like actors, society’s Mom and Dad simply portray that single, deeper archetype that inhabits them both.

And that, my friends, is how the mind works with a Quantum Flirt, uncovering new meaning and new understanding. Had I stopped when I was so crabby and allowed that emotion to unfold, I might’ve gotten it then and never needed a Flirt to nudge me. Then again, maybe not.

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