Mom was 15 when I was born. In a sense, we grew up together and experienced a changing world that came to look so different from where we started as a girl and her first baby.
Mother’s Day is a good time to recapitulate some of those moments that made mom so different and special. She was more like my older sister until she became my mother.
As I grew, questions about who mom was to me became more intense. She meant so many things to the people that loved and saw her as an extraordinary human being and yet, to me, her multiple qualities only increased my sense of wanting to know the hidden attributes that made her unique.
There was a sense of frustration on my part about the fact that as much as I loved her, I could never equal the quantity and purity of the love she had for me. She anticipated my issues and many times, she would resolve them before I could even speak to her about them.
Going to graduate school was a challenging adventure. The twist this adventure took after I finished my Masters and was well into the doctorate was a defining and monumental moment that saw me select the topic and approach for the dissertation that had partly in mind questions about mother.
After selecting a relatively new and important work of an Argentine novelist, I sat down with my mentor and chair of my dissertation committee to also ask permission to use a new literary approach in the analysis of the novel. The term adopted for this approach has been called “Myth Criticism.”
I was particularly interested in discovering characters and patterns that would explain the structure of the human experience. Among the characters and patterns are the “adventure of the hero,” the concepts of the “Father” and “Mother” as well as the characters that help or hinder the hero’s journey.
The most important resource used to understand the role of the “mother” was Erich Neumann’s The Great Mother (1955), an analytical description of the mother in all of her roles. Neumann depicts the mother figure in a range from the Good Mother manifested in such characters as Mary, the mother of Jesus, to the Terrible Mother we can associate with “La llorona” and everything in between.
The different roles the mother plays in our lives have a purpose. She not only offers unconditional love but also encourages her children to “grow up” in a way to effectively take the place of their parents.
Mom was not the type of person that took a measured approach to raising her children. When she showed her love it was with an unbridled devotion that knew no bounds.
When she was disappointed in us she sought to discipline our lives in explosive moments designed to correct the road that was our journey. But the complexity of her actions in raising her children always led to an unspoken understanding that she would always be there to take our side against adversity.
Taking the time and energy to learn about mom led to a progressive change of my view of her from a role more like a sister to the plenitude of a son and his mother. I learned that it was good to take the opportunity to know mom in a deeper sense because it again confirmed the value of love in our lives.
Mom is my hero. I am sure your mom is also yours.