The Mother Quotient
Some require mountain ranges and lake views or hot yoga and a 10km run to experience a full moment.
A teachable moment.
Others require a classroom with smart boards and smart teachers and smart phones to find the answers to the questions they didn’t know they had.
I had sub sauce dripping down my chin when I received a random teachable moment in a freshly renovated Subway shop on the side of a busy highway. I had asked for extra sauce and mayo that day, and pickles that kept slopping and squishing their way past the bun onto the crinkly paper. My chin was the route of descent. My teen daughter sporting fake lashes and acrylic nails somehow remained unscathed by her dry liquid-free heavy on the meat sub. We both sat in meditative states on cell phones, annoyed by each other’s chewing.
And then this happened.
In a strong accent, an older Indian woman politely approached our table. She was wearing those beautiful matching outfits that are flowy and colourful and I was instantly transported to Bollywood. She had the dot on her forehead between her eyebrows. What was that called again? I’d Google it when she left. On my smartphone. Because I wasn’t smart enough to remember what that dot was called or why it was there. Or did I ever know? Had I ever wondered before? She didn’t ask about my messy chin.
“You know” she says “the best thing we can do to stay healthy and happy is to tell our mothers everything. Share your thoughts. Be open with each other. Listen to one another. Love each other. This is what will save the world. Mothers and daughters. That relationship is medicine.”
Another pickle dropped. My daughter’s eyes glossed, and her fake lashes were dangerously close to being flooded . We smiled at her and thanked her. We put away our phones. Suddenly, our chewing was a little less annoying and our hearts were dripping with universal love.
We have all come from a mother. We have been raised and cared for by some form of mother – traditional mothers, or by mothering Dads or by mothering adoptive guardians or by mothering siblings or pairs of mothering mothers and step-moms.
Among our women we have Alison who began life as a framed photo inside her adopted mother’s suitcase. She identified with Annie and Oliver Twist and dreamed ideas that her birth mother had a dramatic story for giving her up. She didn’t. She was just young and not ready.
Sandra lost herself on the journey of motherhood and rediscovered a new Sandra that had secretly been yearning for the challenge of finish lines. Her children cheer her on. She runs races on legs that somehow didn’t know they liked to run. She loves motherhood but she loves the new Sandra too.
Marcy has a strong relationship with her Mother Earth. She watched forests disappear and queen bees try to function in urban hives. Her mother whispered in her ear and she listened. Her stewardship keeps the survey tape in check, the hives buzzing and mother happy.
I Googled the dot. It’s called a bindi. Associated with marriage, but more notably in my sub shop moment , it is also said to be the seat of concealed wisdom. A decoration on that third eye to remind us of the things we can’t see. A church pastor once said that what we can’t see is responsible for what we can see.
Our connections to “mother” – whatever definition of mother you choose – is surely good medicine.
A wise mother taught me this. In a sub shop.
She wore the dot of hidden wisdoms and I wore extra sauce.