Happy Mother’s Day
I’ve been watching a lot of mothers lately. It’s springtime and the songbirds and squirrels are busy building nests and preparing to raise their young ones. Moms are persistent taskmasters in their pursuit of motherhood. Recently, I watched in fascination as one momma titmouse repeatedly plucked fur from a sleeping raccoon’s backside – perhaps in order to line her nest with a soft layer for her eggs or perhaps in defense of her eggs that maybe the raccoon was eating (I never could tell exactly what was going on).
Red-shouldered hawks are feeding chicks who will soon be teetering on the edges of their nests watching as mom encourages them to fly. Carpenter bees are making sawdust on my porch as they create burrows to lay their eggs. Spiders are ballooning their way across lakes and fields, weaving webs, gathering food, and guarding egg cases.
Human moms are busy, too. I watched one mom snuggle her tiny infant lovingly in her baby sling, while another was teaching her young one how to ride a bicycle without training wheels. Another proudly introduced her daughter’s girlfriend to an acquaintance, and another cheered as her son graduated from college.
All these moms are driven by one instinct – to protect their genetic offspring long enough to enable them to fend for themselves (and hopefully have babies of their own to continue the species). But for humans, it’s not just about sending the kids off into the world to reproduce. We want our kids to contribute to society, to be happy and healthy, to be kind and loving, to show compassion. In short – to be human.
Sometimes though, we humans can get caught up in our own emotions and heads, thinking more about ourselves than about other species or even other human beings. Too often we think – and wish for – the world to revolve around us. That’s when it’s a good time to remember one mother’s good advice:
“…the cure for thinking too much about yourself was helping somebody who was worse off than you.” ― Sylvia Plath,
There’s not a better fix for self-indulgence than looking outward. Find another human or an animal or a forest or a wetland or a neighborhood near you that needs your help. There are people and places and species all around us who need help. Today, as we honor our own human mothers, let’s remember – and act on – the best advice any mother can give to their children – help someone who is worse off than you.
Let’s be mindful and look outside ourselves to find a way to lift others up, to protect other species, to understand how we fit into the web of life, and to show compassion for every living thing.
Happy Mother’s Day.