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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Mother Teaches the Crone

Crone; the whole gestalt evokes wisdom, and calm acceptance -- at least to me. I looked forward to cronehood for years before I had any right to claim the life stage. I croned at 56, on my birthday. It felt right; I had been in menopause a few years and as I neared that milestone, Hecate came.knocking on the door.

Starwalker reminisces at her croning ceremony.
Perhaps I'll revisit my croning ritual/birthday party, if anyone is interested, at a later date. Suffice to say at this point I ritually recalled my life while friends encircled me. I had laid out a spiral path of candles, one for each year, with mementos and memory flags by the candles for notable years. As I walked the spiral, lighting candles, I reminisced over the path thus far. At the end of the journey through my life, I offered a sacrifice (planned months in advance) to the Gods in thanks for a life well lived and in petition for many productive years yet to come. My sacrifice was hair, specifically the grown out length of dyed and lightened hair,which I had stopped coloring and allowed to grow specifically for this event. My friends gathered around me and "cut on the transition line,' lopping off the treated locks and leaving me with a short 'do in my natural, greying blonde color.

It's been nearly 9 years since then. I have moved to the northlands, returned to my love of tilling the earth and caring for farm animals. I have had a bout of a pretty serious condition or two, survived and stagger on through good days and challenging ones.

Just today I realized some of my successes in meeting the challenges of aging have roots deep in my Mother years.

As a young woman, a Maiden if you will, I was a jet propelled, take no prisoners, nothing gets in the way dynamo of energy and productivity. Food was optional, as was sleep. Folks often quipped that I must photosynthesize like a plant to be able to maintain my pace. I hated leaving anything incomplete, whatever the projects and would work day into the night without even thinking of stopping, until it was complete. Then, I would fall into rest with equal vigor (or depth of collapse, if that sounds better.)

However, when I began my Mother years, everything got turned on its end. Babies, as you may know if you have ever known one, are not easily put off! They don't care what is left undone; when they need -- be it food, a diaper change, or rocking for comfort -- they need it NOW. That was the biggest challenge of my life. There was no question about it. I did natural child birth, breast feed, made my own baby food, carried little ones first in front- and then in backpacks. I KNEW that laying a good foundation in infancy and early childhood -- meeting a baby's needs -- was not "spoiling" but giving them a strong foundation of security from which they could explore the world.

And I nearly went nuts.

I had to learn to do things -- EVERYTHING -- in 5-10 minute increments. Now, sometimes I was able to spend longer on a task because I was moving about and, while moving, Baby slept in her pack. But it was not a regular thing and the one thing I could count on was interruption.

Evidence of the Mother years; Starwalker's five daughters.
I learned to let go of things that were not essential. Making beds with neat hospital corners went the way of the dodo. Throwing the covers up and over was good enough; save the fussing for when the needed clean linens. Dishes got washed in fits and starts... eventually... though I will admit that when things got crazy, more than once they all got pitched into the bathtub for a soak before washing.

I learned that some times, the best use of time is a nap. I learned to pace myself and know that some days are naturally more productive than others and that a day in which little got done did NOT mean that would be the pattern from there on out.

And now, when the aches and pains of aging gang up on me; when the sore ankle that COULD have been broken but thankfully was not starts fussing, when the mind is willing but the energy is lacking... well, it's ok.
Things CAN be done in fits and starts. Nowhere is it written that all the windows must be washed he very same day. They'll all be better than they were in a week or so when they get one, one to a day.

The corner of the living room that hold today's window is clean now, though the rest of the room did not get done but that's ok. Another corner will likely be on the list, with the next window, tomorrow. That is, barring too much jarring of the ankle and knees at work in the morning. If they are yelling too loudly, well, there is always the next day.

So I guess Mother taught me to emulate the tortoise in more ways than just the one in which she entered my life during the earlier stage: Consider the tortoise. She only makes progress when she sticks out her neck.

She also makes progress one step at a time. So this crone, formerly a hare, has learned.

What have YOU learned from Mother?