Friday 5 November 2010

Questioning Archetypes

During a chat with my room-mate, she expressed: "I wish I have you as my mother." Why? She feels that I take good care of her by sometimes making coffee for her and washing her cups. Well, this made me wander off in a trail of thoughts. I began questioning the archetype associated with mothers. Caring for one another and being affectionate are qualities that every human should possess by default (or am I expecting a bit too much, here). But when one attributes qualities as the ones mentioned above only to mothers, I start wondering. Why is it that every culture deems the mother as THE epitome of love, sacrifice, affection and care. I have always heard the very common phrase: "There can be no one like my mother." I, for a fact, accept that no human can be like the other but why mothers alone.

Popular culture also propagates this grand idea of raising the mother to a pedestal. But there are problems in this type of deitifying a role. One: the mother is not seen as a 'normal' human who is prone to committing mistakes. Two: the mother has no individual personality except that of a nurturer, care-giver and a person who holds the family together. Aren't we placing an enormous responsibility on a human being by placing the weight of so many qualities and responsibilities?

A mother goes to any length to sacrifice for the well-being of her child/children but doesn't the father also do the same in a different way. Culture demands that the mother be exalted at all times. But why? There have been instances when I have been reprimanded for even raising this issue of 'mother-worshiping.' Let it be clear here that I am not slighting the role of a mother. She is the one who brought me into this world. She carried me within her for nine months. But that does not mean that I see her as the highest point of every possible goodness. The mother I know is capable of committing mistakes, sulking when she finds the weight of cooking a tad too much and also complains that the world is too much extracting on the role of a mother.

Well, this is quite a touchy subject. I would like to read your thoughts on this. You are free to condemn my thoughts, if you find that it is unpardonable.


  1. wat u r talking is absolutely right susy...but i feel man plays certain roles in his life and everyone has flaws in ones personality...but the role of mother though it has flaws the love and care towards her children dominates the basic i feel she always has a special place in this world.....

  2. In my faith, the ultimate mother is the Mother of God, the blessed Virgin Mary. She is to be exalted and emulated. Unfortunately, the mother I had in real life was neglectful and one to be pitied. She needed emotional/mental care taking herself. Good topic Susan!

  3. Susan

    Rhea hides her son Zeus
    his cry is heard by the gods
    in the cave of birth.

    We just need to look to ancient literature and myth about arch types to gather an understanding we all embody the different ones with the exception one or two are perhaps more dominant then the others, "know thyself"
    I look to the natural world to see how the female animals care and nurture their young, sadly I see they do a better job then some in our human societies. Additionally, not all women make good nurturers and not all are allowed to provide the basics for proper health, food, housing and sanitation in this 'modern' society which impacts motherhood immensely.

    I am a mother of two grown sons, they were easy to raise, but society placed a lot of obstacles in my path. I did the best I knew how at the time - in reflection looking back of course now with better understanding of myself and life I had options at the time I was not unaware of. So of course if I had known would have done things differently, I dare say I am human and made mistakes, but so will my sons, and in time as we age we grown in understanding that our parents are human after all.

  4. i think that exhatling anyone to a pedestal, beyond the almighty, only sets them up to fall...

  5. I think I have in my life stumbled upon women that I also perceived as the "motherly" types. They have however always been old enough to have been my mom.;) I guess they came across as caring and loving but there was also a very comforting feeling in their behavior. They had an aura of tranquility about them, that put my mind to ease and made me feel relaxed and safe...
    With that said, I agree with you that such a quality can be contributed to many men out there as a well and people of all ages and i agree on the fact that not all mothers are loving and caring:)) Maybe it is the word itself that carries so much symbolism, and the reality is not always living up to it.;)
    Have a lovely Friday dear Susan,

  6. Speaking for myself, I am nothing special to warrant being placed on a pedestal. But just by being him, loving and at times correcting me, respecting, caring and worry about me. What more can I ask for in a son!

  7. I do not condemn your thoughts at all. It's high time it was said too. The pressure on mothers to be perfect beings is incredible. I wouldn't want my children to put me on a pedestal. I go out of my way at times to show just how imperfect I am. It's healthy for children to know that their mum is not a goddess without blemish. That way, they are better able to accept the imperfections in themselves when they make mistakes also.

  8. I read someone once who said, "Everything you've ever been taught is a lie." Well, I think you've identified one of those "truths" some take for granted - that motherhood is sublime. Mothers are real - some good, some not so much. To think that motherhood comes with a halo is a lie.

    You are right in questioning...anything.

  9. yup..done all done, Susan. Cook, sulk, complains, makes mistakes.. but love my children to death- and that's probably make mothers more pardonable when we commit our wrongs and mistakes.


  10. I think we all buy into that cultural myth of the mother and that's what makes stories about dysfunctional mothers so intriguing--because it goes against all we expect.

    As for my children, I am expecting a stature of me to be placed in a prominent place in their homes. Is that too much to ask? You know, for all my sacrifices and stuff?

  11. The very first statement from your room mate "I wish I have you as my mother." says a bit about the room mate and her mother.
    In all probability she feels what you are doing for her is right and she is not getting the same treatment from her mother.

  12. I think we are all aware of the fact that a mother is a human being and as such she is not perfect; she's got flaws and makes mistakes.

    But, as Zuzana phrased it, it's the word Mother carrying within it much symbolism, that does the work of putting her on a piedestal.

  13. Dear Susan, I have to admit to you that I did not truly begin to appreciate my mother until I moved away from her. One of the things that differentiates mothers from fathers is that a mother's love is truly unconditional. There is no doubt that there are exceptions to this... but for the most part... a mother is willing to sacrifice herself that her children can survive. Mothers are human, so it is only natural for them to complain about their aches and pains and responsibilities, etc. But I can tell you that though they complain, mothers love every bit of that torture, and they miss it when their kids are gone.

    There is a symbiotic relationship between a mother and child that cannot be broken... unless... of course... the mother is not normal. There are exceptions to every rule, but I would say that a mother is... well... a mother. ;-)

    Loved this post. It brought warm thoughts of my mama to my heart!


  14. always such thought-provoking posts here, dear susan - and i have so missed being able to visit as i would like - my computer at the moment sits surrounded by cords strung every direction, boxes unpacked on all around and furniture in the middle of the floor waiting to be moved [again] - and so go my days right now - in any event, i do know what you are saying - i do not believe that the biological act of giving birth does a "mother" make, just as the act of donating sperm does not a father make - there are as many varying degrees of parenthood as there are people who are parents in one way or another - but - yes, the stereotypes continue - and continue to be passed generation to generation - interesting word verification here - "bible" - hmmmmmmm...i rest my case!

    wonderful to see you again, dear friend! ;)

  15. Pride comes before a fall. Thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing. Blessings.

  16. Nice one! Mothers do not seek to be on a pedestal(my opinion) Because our role is that of a caretaker,caregiver,nurturer and so on society has placed that label.
    As a mother I am as human as another and make mistakes like any other. I found what works and what does not through my experiences.
    My children know I am not perfect "thank god" but how ever we as mothers/women do have a higher thresh hold for most things!

  17. You have started an interesting discussion.

    My views: It is society that creates all these images and build unreasonable expectations from the mom. Imagine a mom choosing to work when here kids are little young with someone else to take care.. not only will she be treated like a stone hearted one but the kid will be taught that his/her mother couldn't care less for him/her.

    What one needs to do in any relationship particularly with their parents is- grow above the set roles that they had to play and identify them as individuals and get to know them better. This is necessary for a deeper understanding.

  18. I feel mothers are taken for granted and they too take themselves for granted. From the smallest thing of giving you their share of icecream too to always keeping their kids' need ahead of theirs - i have spoken about this to my mom and she says its not social conditioning - i brought u to this world - i am a mom! she insists i will understand when i have my own kids...phew! let's see!

  19. Well,
    i should say 'Hey, you wait until you become a mother yourself'.

    But I am going to try (hard) to be on your part here.
    Me, as a mother, would do anything for my child, and when I say anything I mean everything... Of course I would give my life for his/him. First, because I've lived long enough (compared to him) and secondly and most important, because I could not bear living this hell without him... and that is maybe too selfish or easy(?)...
    And oh I make a few many mistakes: my main one, I spoil him so much, but only because he is adorable!!! :)

    Now, I've seen a lot of mothers who don't seem to care so much for their children... They smoke in front of them... They let them cry to exhaution and even hit them and say, 'Now cry...'(I'll sue the next one I see)- My beloved mum, now that I think about it, did it loads of times to me (she did not smoke, my father did)

    Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters... we are all first of all Human Beings, and as such some are more lovely than others..

    Sweet Hugs

  20. a mother is a female parent who brings up a child with care and affection. I believe the same is true in a father role only the gender is the opposite. we as females cannot be fathers and vise versa is also true.

    I believe that it is an honor to be the gender that you are so you can reach your highest potential as a human being of that gender. As a female, being a mother is one of the roles for reaching the higher self. You do not have to give birth to be kind and affectionate toward someone who regards you as their parent. And some of us are better at it than others.

    I would take that as a compliment, Susan. like one of your followers said, it shows the kind of relationship your room mate had with her mother.

    take care

    I don't mind being put on the pedestal as long as there is someone there to catch me when I fall.

    I think we could all learn from the (proper) mother role in treating all of mankind with care and affection.

  21. Moses:

    Jung started this and I am just reflecting his thoughts with my own words. I hold your argument to be true for everyone. Thanks for coming by and leaving your insights. Come more often and we can chat :)


    How can we talk of the spiritual while discussing the 'real' mothers of the earth. Let the spiritual be. I can never contest that.

  22. Joanny:

    Loved the quote. You always add a special value to my posts with your cherry-picked quotes. I was just thinking aloud to the stereotype associated with mothers and was trying to question the dominant views attributed to the Mother.


    The word 'pedestal' is used more like a metaphor, I reckon. We are not moving beyond the earth-level here.

  23. Zuzana:

    There can be motherly type of women who are not remotely interested in becoming mothers in real life. Funny, isn't it? Whatever said and done, the word carries much symbolism and some times a bit more than the implied.



  24. Nijalines:

    Welcome to the Meanderings. Glad that you have stumbled here. You have expressed the truth and this is what I am warranting here.


    Thanks Myrna. Your words always bring a smile on my face :)

  25. Felicia:

    Smiles. You are a mother and that too a lovely one :)


    Oh, yes, you deserve a statue not in their homes but in their hearts and minds!

  26. Joe:

    Ah, I did think of that as well.


    True, true.

  27. Nevine:

    I wonder whether only mothers are capable of unconditional love. Let me phrase it this way: A mother always strives for the well-being of her child and sometimes even tries to 'grab' the best from other mothers (if the need arises). Now if such is the case, doesn't it make her a selfish human but a great mother. Maybe I am not giving a suitable example but the relation between mothers and unconditional love slightly perturbs me. I wonder . . .
    A mother is a mother . . .

    I am glad this post helped you to go back in time and reflect on your mamma.

    Big hugs, dear Nevine.


    How nice to see you here! Hope you are doing great. I wish you get disentangled from all the wires and boxes that are all around you at the earliest. And it is always wonderful to read your insights and observations. Big hugs to you, dear Jenean.

  28. JBR:

    Blessing to you as well.


    Labelling has a lot of strings attached and most of the strings are not just right. We do have a higher scale when it comes to care and love :)

  29. Sameera:

    Identifying people as individuals is the most hardest thing to do. But it is also the right thing to do.


    No mom will accept what I have written here. Let's see how we perform!

  30. Dulce:

    I was waiting for this line: "You should become a mother." And you, my dearest have said this. I am precisely trying to say that everyone is a human first and then the roles that they play. Quite a topic for discussion!


    A mother is always seen the highest point of the female gender and that is what I am contesting, here. I loved the way you have said: "I don't mind being put on the pedestal as long as there is someone there to catch me when I fall." Quite nice lines. Affection and care should be the quality of every individual rather than a mother alone. Joy always, dear Hope.

  31. Susan

    thank you for the nice comment on the quote -- however I wrote the short poem,,,in response to your query on mothers, if you know about the mythical story behind it -- it makes sense about the strong archetype of mothers of who Rhea represents.

    warm hugs to you dear one

  32. I dont worship my mother nor she sits on a pedestal. I did when I was little as it should be, but as I became an adult and have my own children, I see her as a human being with many virtues and some flaws

  33. I quite agree with you on this one Susan. Although our mothers love us unconditionally yet expecting our mothers to be the epitome of 'nothing but the best' would be unfair. Recognising and understanding them as normal human beings having their own flaws, strengths , and giving them the space to be themselves is the genuine way in which we can show our love for them. Loved the way you have discussed this delicate topic!!
    lots of love

  34. Joanny:




    Quite pragmatic.


    I know. We are doing ig injustice to their roles. Long time. Hope you have been well, dear Ruchi :)

  35. I am doing fine my dear Susan :) Thank you! Hope you are doing fabulous as well...
    Wishing you a smiling,cheerful day ahead!
    love and big big hugs!
    Take care

  36. Hey Susan,
    Good point. I used to think exactly like that.

    But I'm also having a gradual shift in my thinking. I agree a lot with what Hope said, and add to that the context of majority of the mothers.

    True, caring and nurturing should be part of every human being, but since we almost always have a choice, we end up not pushing ourselves to that end and instead take the easy stop on the path. Because often that kind of sacrifice is not even expected.

    With mothers, biologically, psychologically, socially there is an added push. And then we kids too remember it later... we get imprinted, since we survived out of that symbiotic connection in the early stages/ years of life.

    Many women too have mentioned it to me, how they slowly realised that there was just no choice between caring for their kids or being a bit selfish for themselves. And lot many choose to practice that unselfishness, which go on to make archetypes.

    joy & peace



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