In Praise of Mothers

We’ve talked often in these posts about the Warrior Mindset as a template for the writer or artist or entrepreneur’s inner world. Treat the struggle as a war. Fight it like a warrior.

But there’s another paradigm, another archetype that may be even more powerful.

I’m talking about the Mother.

When you think about it, the writer or artist is more like a mother than a warrior.

First, she is doing that which only God Himself and other artists have done. She is bringing forth onto the material plane a living being that has never existed before.

The artist’s work is the Mother’s baby. She conceives it, she carries it to term, she gives birth to it. 

Now consider the Mother once her issue has been brought into the world. In many ways, she is more ferocious in its cause than a warrior. 

A mother will run into a burning building to save her child.

A 110-pound mom will lift a Buick with her bare hands to protect her baby.

A mother will kill for her child. She will sacrifice anything, even her own life, in defense of her offspring.

A mother will give up her own vanity (no small thing) in favor of raising her child. Fashion? Weight? Hair, nails, skin? In the tradeoff of time—for herself or for her child—a mom will show up uncombed, un-made-up, in yoga pants and flip-flops to register her kid for pre-K or to root her child on in soccer.

More amazing than these, a mother will emancipate her child from her own vanity of expectations. Does she wish her daughter would graduate from Stanford and become a professor of French Literature? She’ll release her to become a professional wrestler. And never lose a jot of love or commitment.

You and I have to be like that mother.

We are here to serve, not our own selves or our own ambition, but the new life that will be born through us.

We must protect that life. We are its vessel. That which we perform for ourselves is in service only of that new life. 

Nor can we cling to or possess that new life. We are only the medium through which it has entered the world. We must not force it or manipulate it into being what we want it to be. We must let it be what it is and what it will become.

We must release it. We must let it go.

This is nature. This is life. This is our role.

We are warriors. And we are mothers.

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31 Comments

  1. Peter Brockwell on November 10, 2021 at 4:36 am

    What a great post. This ties in with one of Steve’s JABs, where he also talks of birthing a work into the world and the responsibility to it is you were its mother. That, after discussing the act of creation in relation to the Long Range Desert Group. That’s fascinating too. I would highly recommend that JAB, whichever it was. Or all of them in fact.

    Ahh, goodness. Food for thought…

  2. Jule Kucera on November 10, 2021 at 7:28 am

    “We are warriors. And we are mothers.”

    Thank you, Steve.
    We need our yang and our yin. Happy to see it here.

    • Mia Sherwood Landau on November 10, 2021 at 8:17 am

      Perhaps it is easier for those of us who are physically mothers and grandmothers to conceive of birth, nurturing, and eventually letting go. My daughters are in a different phase with their kids, and I hear them echo my own thoughts and feelings, of what? Terror. Yes, it is a type of terror to give birth and relinquish control. It’s not just hard, it’s terrifying, and in that way it’s warrior like. Giving birth to art is terrifying, too, because it tends to define us, but we can’t control it. Like kids and grandkids, on their own.

      • Tolis Alexopoulos on November 11, 2021 at 3:13 am

        Terror can be a great motivator, but it is also a crucial agon (fight) that is almost impossible to get out of quite unharmed. A nature’s two-ways-cutting blade, in order to survive, then do all else. Praise all mothers of children or creations who fought like crazy in the millennia for survival and ethics.

        Thank you for the thoughts, dear Mia and Jule.

  3. Kate Stanton on November 10, 2021 at 7:32 am

    This may very well be my favorite ‘Writing Wednesdays’ post yet. Raw emotion tortures some, but not the feminine mother spirit inside of us ALL. I think of Tori Amos covering Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ in a sweet angelic voice with her classical stylings on the piano https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUOuJJdjFHc. Her warrior energy is just as fierce, if not more gutting, than Slayer’s energy in the form of anger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3-ITn0e00U. I relate to both. I love tapping into the male warrior energy. David Bowie tapped into both. Anyone creating something has that mother-like energy, don’t you think? Like a mother, nurture and guide it to let it live free and independently as its own entity one day. Steve, you’re brilliant! This is truly beautiful. I printed it out to tape above my piano 🙂 I’m already highlighting some gems to read when I am feeling down about my music, so the cute lioness with her cub picture is going up too!!! Just the shot of inspiration I needed today.
    “We are here to serve, not our own selves or our own ambition, but the new life that will be born through us.
    We must protect that life. We are its vessel. That which we perform for ourselves is in service only of that new life.”
    Let go. Balagan. Let go. Box breathing…back to life!

  4. Laura Tiebert on November 10, 2021 at 7:37 am

    Yes! High five to every word! We mamas will go to the mat to defend and protect our children (human, animal or words on a page).

  5. Andrew Compton on November 10, 2021 at 8:01 am

    Perfect post for 10 November. Happy Birthday Marine.

  6. Ann Dibble on November 10, 2021 at 8:49 am

    I have always been impressed with how much depth Steve gets out of military metaphors. (When I was eight, and read “The Lion in the Gateway,” I wanted to be a Spartan, but not so much lately) What he has to say often resonates. I am grateful and newly impressed that he can use the Mother metaphor, which speaks to me more directly. I am not writing nowadays, but boy, do I appreciate these posts.

  7. Laura Lee Pritt on November 10, 2021 at 8:54 am

    I’m a mother and I think your post makes a good parallel.
    But our societies shift towards our work being this often above-all-else accomplishment that can bee seen to being as important as motherhood disturbs me on some level. With most families having two working parents (some out of necessity but some not) doing all these amazing things from working to volunteering to running non-profits and triathlons, who does that leave to “mother” our children? Our society is so disconnected that we have made “work” our babies (we have to connect to something, ask any addict).

    I am not religious at all but I find the teaching of Mother Teresa to be spot on in this regard. She said, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”

    This month I decided to do the NaNoWriMo challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. I have truly enjoyed doing it and am glad I accepted the challenge. But I had a realization early one morning when I was motivated to get out of bed early to write, that upon my death bed I will feel most accomplished about my relationships and how well I learned to get along with those I love and the time I spent with them.

    My brother has a friend who use to go around climbing different mountains and doing other physical feats. I remember thinking, ‘Who cares! How well does he get along with his mother? That would be a much bigger accomplishment.’ Today he is a lonely man.

    I love your posts and writing and I thank you for this post as well, because as with most things that cause us a little friction, they also implore us to grow, consider and/or stand a little taller in our convictions. I still got up early the morning of my realization and have continuing with the writing challenge. But now I am also making sure I have the time to be the best at the most important mothering job of all, caring for my 10 year old son.

    • Kate Stanton on November 10, 2021 at 9:10 am

      Your post is lovely. Your last sentence is chef’s kiss–I couldn’t have said it better! Before we know it, they’ll be on their own with their own family and friends. I believe women are programmed in western society to be selfless when it comes to parenting. I have a 13-year old daughter that taught me what unconditional love is. I hope we are close friends once she’s an adult. Every day she reminds me why I sing and write. I want her to know her dreams are important. In my humble opinion, mothers are warriors because even though we are told we can’t have it all, and even subconsciously guilted if we do have an identity outside of “virgin mother”, we try to balance it all anyway. Mama bears don’t know how to give up. Even when we don’t feel strong we keep pushing on because we are mothers. Courage.

      • Maureen Anderson on November 10, 2021 at 11:47 am

        Your daughter is growing up with a reverence for life, Kate — by watching you live.

        The best thing I ever did for my daughter, according to her, was go after my own dreams (besides having her!).

        • Kate Stanton on November 10, 2021 at 2:34 pm

          I can tell Katie learned that from you! Thank you, Maureen!

      • Larua Lee Pritt on November 12, 2021 at 7:32 am

        Kate Stanton, thank you. I think you are right in that woman have been programmed – programed right out of our natural instincts! I’m so glad to hear you are writing and sining. These are two of my favorite this as well! And right along with the instinct for caring fiercely for our young is instinct for doing what our hearts demand for ourselves. I just think the balance can be tricky with all the ‘gold stars’ we receive from societal accomplishments. Yesterday I got the best gold star of all. My son said to me, “Mom, you really do have a nice voice.” It made me want to sing even more!. I sing along to the radio or while I’m making dinner and I always thought it got on his nerves a little bit (well, I’m sure there are some songs that do! He things Put Your Head on my Shoulder is pretty corny!). He has also told me how proud he is of me for doing the NaNoWriMo challenge and says he wants to try it too. Showing our young how to care for themselves through example is the best parenting we can do.

        • Kate Stanton on November 15, 2021 at 12:21 pm

          Hi Laura! Thank you for replying! I looked up the NaNoWriMo Challenge. That looks super cool! Singing seems to be self-soothing, do you find that? When I clean, shower, or drive I am always singing. Your son is absorbing it all like a sponge! My daughter doesn’t like to sing, but I’d like to think her curiosity in the arts and playing in the jazz band has to do with me instilling in her that creativity and imagination is more important than knowledge or accolades from others. We must never lose our spark or our dreams because your last sentence is 100% right!!

    • Richard T. Ritenbaugh on November 11, 2021 at 8:46 am

      Indeed, the days may pass slowly, but the years fly by fast.

      • Larua Lee Pritt on November 12, 2021 at 7:36 am

        Richard T. Ritenbaugh, So true, so true! I already miss the years when my son was younger. Yet each year I feel like this is my favorite year with him. I have found nothing quite as fulfilling as being a parent.

  8. Bing on November 10, 2021 at 9:10 am

    My mom was 58 when she committed suicide, I was 31and had just joined AA. For years I thought she was a weak
    woman. I now believe once she realized that I was going to be OK and because of her mental illness she had to leave the planet. Her work was done. I now see my mom as a hero. In her own way she was very tough.
    Thanks Steve, like the others this is a great post.

    • Maureen Anderson on November 10, 2021 at 11:56 am

      Wow. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Joe on November 11, 2021 at 7:41 am

      Sorry to know about that, Bing. It’s a heavy thing to carry. Sad to recognize that people can feel such pain and hopelessness that pulling the ejection handle feels like the only option.

  9. Jackie on November 10, 2021 at 9:47 am

    Goose bumps from this post. Well said, and thanks.

  10. Jim Gant on November 10, 2021 at 10:50 am

    Dear Steve, A spartan spear of love from the PNW…you have taught me many things.
    This post is beautiful, wonderful and powerful.

    Women hold all of the mystery and the power.

    Dear Mom! Thank you! Thank You! Thank You! Without you there is no me. Without your love, the first love I ever knew – the world would have lost all meaning and color…

    Mom!

    I love you with all of my heart…

    Your son,
    Kirk
    1COR13:13

  11. Maureen Anderson on November 10, 2021 at 11:52 am

    Before I found out I was going to be a mom, I had a dream I was pregnant. Nothing unusual about that.

    But I’ve also had the same dream before starting any other project that was worth doing, which is — if not unusual — still fascinating.

  12. Mariana Fay on November 10, 2021 at 5:22 pm

    Ah, yeah. Mother who raised 3 babies alone here. Multi-medium artist as well. My children are my most important gift creation I have ever made. Thank you Steve. xo

  13. Tolis Alexopoulos on November 11, 2021 at 3:05 am

    Thanks dear Steve,

    indeed we must be those ultimate protectors of our child, bearing the idol of the ideal mother in our hearts.

    All these sacrifices are very difficult.

    Balance in all things is also a very wise way, and less threatening for our own lives and works.

    But life is hard. Balance shall be disturbed, if it ever existed. And we should better be mama’s at that exact point. Enter the burning building -when all others get out of it or try to hold us back- is our “mama’s” mission.

    That mother inside us must also take a frequent look at our lives even when we have found a nice everyday schedule. Just in case something is going the wrong direction -the mother’s instinct.

  14. Jurgen Strack on November 11, 2021 at 7:25 am

    Loved this.
    Thank you, Steve.

  15. Robert D vanderMark on November 11, 2021 at 7:30 am

    I am a Mutha, Steve!

  16. Joe on November 11, 2021 at 7:34 am

    It’s interesting to consider that word “conceive” has two definitions (which may be more closely related than they initially seem):

    1. to become pregnant with a child

    2. to form or devise an idea in the mind.

  17. Elizabeth on November 11, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Wouldn’t a man, a father, give up his own “vanity” to bring his child to pre K?
    Would it also be “no small thing.”
    Is there a double standard suggested here?

  18. Chuck DeBettignies on November 11, 2021 at 10:03 pm

    Steve’s post made me realize I need to fulfill the Mother role better for my creations. (Insert parental guilt here.) I’ve conceived these projects, and they depend COMPLETELY on me. (Insert more guilt.)

    The shame!

    I promise to do better . . .

  19. Maxima Kahn on November 12, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    Bravo, Steve! You’ve done it again.

  20. Kitty Allen on November 14, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    Excellent post, Steve. Thank you. For me, having raised four amazing humans by God’s grace, through much… motherhood can best be described as ferocity enveloped in love and guarded by faith in our sovereign God.

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