“By not trying to control the uncontrollable, we get what we thought we’d get if we were in control.”
So after spending a little time last weekend with family, the horses, and now sitting here on my porch with my trusty dogs, reflecting on the whole concept of mothers day, mothering, and motherhood, quite easily the mother of all opportunities to become a better person, I’ve come to a few conclusions.
Across America last Sunday we honored mothers and motherhood in as many different ways as there are mothers to celebrate. (I hope all of them included pie) Let’s face it. Mothering these days is a lot different job than it used to be. Easier in some ways (cell phones make carpools, schedule coordination and on-the-fly redirection of teenagers a whole lot easier); harder in others (have you ever tried to get the undivided attention of a teenager embroiled in a text conversation?). Nevertheless, as a generation, I think we have adapted pretty well.
And, for those of us whose role of “mother” has now moved, as one family therapist once put it, “from management to consultant,” don’t worry. It gets worse.
Or, as Academy Award Winning Actress Goldie Hawn told Oprah Winfrey in a recent installment of Oprah’s Master Class on OWN, “One of the most difficult things, and the most important gifts we can give our adult children is to let go.” Now Goldie, keep in mind, is one of us. Or, as USA Today reports, “Hawn, 59, is happy. And the Oscar-winning comedian, who grew up Jewish but is now a practicing Buddhist, shares her spiritual journey to enlightenment and contentment in her first book, A Lotus Grows in the Mud (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $25.95), written with journalist Wendy Holden.” Goldie is also one of a key group of Boomer women whom we can all probably agree had a hand in inventing reinvention. (We’ll be looking at a few others in this inspiring group. If you know of someone who should be featured in this upcoming series, feel free to add her name to my list!)
I don’t know about you, but this “letting go” thing is harder than it seems. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s more difficult than potty training. More harrowing than pre-teen sleepovers. More daunting than driver education. The truth is, when you’ve invested two or three decades of single-minded focus on keeping someone safe, happy, and on the path to their highest potential, it’s just damn hard to now just step back and say, “OK . . . well . . . you’re done! Good luck!”
It’s quite frankly enough to wear a good woman out.
So where do we find the strength to “let go?” Where do we look for answers when we are still having a hard time understanding the questions? What do we do when “thinking out of the box” sometimes also means thinking outside the ballpark the box is buried in?
“Get quiet,” advises Deborah McCormick, PhD and co-author of Horse Sense and the Human Heart, Horses and the Mystical Path, and a new one I’m now SO excited to be editing that delves into this subject with solutions that guide us back toward nature, unplugging and learning to listen to our “inner lead mare.”
You may remember Deborah from Chapter two of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses as the one who explained how horses give us a “keen sense of direction, composure and inner strength, teaching you to elevate your desires and increase your capacity to love.”
So apparently, that’s the trick to this “letting go” thing. And once again, it is horses that seem here to show us the way. When we tap into our inner lead mare (the mother of all mothers), we find that “keen sense of direction, composure and inner strength” we’ve been ignoring in our quest to keep mothering until they get it “right.” (According to our terms, not theirs. This can be a BIG difference.)
“When you learn how to love from a place of strength, rather than from a place of fear,” says Rev. Linda McDermott, who led our guided meditations and “quest vs. quilt” discussions at our recent Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat (Look for more on Linda’s Life Patchwork sessions in coming posts), “you learn how to love more authentically, with no strings or expectations attached.”
What? No strings or expectations? Really? Is that even possible after this many years of careful mothering that created, and then knitted, those strings into a corral of safety for our little buckaroos? Our lead mares say “YES!” — and if we can manage to find her an coax her out of our shadows, she’ll be glad to show us the trail.