published in The Urban Howl
Myth Busting: Nurture and Nature
– The Voice of the Mother.
Listen to me. I am The Empress. The Mother. The Anima and I have come to talk with you about my work. And the work of others like me. I have come to dispel the false myth I have fought against for so long. One so deeply ingrained that you may not know of its insidious message. Or how it disempowers the powerful. I have come to gift you with my ancient wisdom. I have come to break you free.
There has long been a delusion about the true art of Nurture. For too long it has been given blurred edges. It has been packaged in fluffy blankets of trite sentimentality. In an effort to devalue its importance they have made it appear soft and syrupy. To diminish its power they have made it seem comfortable and basic. They have down-graded the skilled craft of cultivation to basic labour. Free labour. They have spritzed it with saccharine sweetness and air-brushed away its keen and harsh contours in order to make it look silky soft. Painless. Easy. The practice of nurture has been reduced to images of laden fruit-trees, spouting seedlings and soft-focus mothers gazing lovingly at their pristine newborns.
But don’t be fooled!
I will no longer allow them to demean my gift. My talent. My craft. I will no longer allow them to disparage those who nourish and enrich. Those who cherish and safeguard. Those who nurture.
For there is a skill in holding space – be it nurturing a person or a plant, a talent or a dream, a skill or a hope. The process of nurturing is the same for each. And the mastery of cultivation contains a deep power. Do not let them tell you that you are soft and pliable. That your role is one anyone can do.
Own your craft and hone it!
Let me tell you what it is like. Nurture. Let me peel back the fiction to reveal the truth. Let me strip away the layers of deceit and show you Nurture in its self-sacrificial power.
Yes! Nurture is beautiful, but it is also messy. It is dirty and disordered. Yes! It is joyful, but it is also filled with anguish and loss. Nurture is sweat and blood. It is hunger and thirst. It is long-suffering and forbearing. It is hard-graft. It is tenacity. Nurture is both pleasure and pain. A bitter-sweet experience of patience for growth.
This is what nurture is like: It is a body exhausted, vomiting and sweat-drenched as it is crouches on its haunches, close to the ground. It is the scent of fear, of pain and blood. It is the primal growls and grunts that rumble from deep within any labouring mother as her contractions take hold. It is her song of pain – the wails and howls that pour from her tongue while her body heaves, ejecting the youngling from her womb in a gruesome quagmire of amniotic fluid and placenta.
But it does not stop there. For – with a body now emptied – her role is now to keep safe that which she has birthed. To keep it protected. Nourished. Allow it to grow.
No, nurture is not elegant. Nor pristine. And it is not a business to be undertaken lightly. For those who nurture must create an environment that cultivates growth. A space for something to unfold and unfurl in its own sweet time. Without force. A place that fosters natural expansion and ultimate fruition.
This is what nurture is like. It is the alligator who throws back her ancient head to place her young within the safe confines of her powerful jaws with a tender and delicate grace. It is the bird who builds its nest high up, away from hungry eyes. Away from natural predators. Spending hour upon hour, day upon day and week upon week to construct an intricate home for her eggs. A fortress for her nestlings. All her energy expended upon her task as she weaves together her nest with exquisite craftsmanship, plucking soft, downy feathers from her tiny body to line its walls. Delicate structures they may be, but do not underestimate the strength that they harbour. Do not misjudge the importance of these structures – for the survival of the young depend upon such a fragile stronghold.
No, nurture is not always satisfying. Nor serene. It comes with its own set of risks. For those who nurture may have to protect that which they safeguard – often fiercely. Fight for it with all that they have. All that they are. They may sustain deep wounds that may never fully heal and gain angry scars that will never fade.
This is what nurture is like: It is horn and claw, tooth and talon poised and prepared to strike! It is the chilling roar of a mother bear who fights with her life to protect her cubs – her shaggy coat matted and blood soaked, her lips curled back and her fangs bared. Raised upon her hind legs, head thrust forward, facing down the enemy. Eyes gleaming and ferocious. Ready to sacrifice everything to defend her cubs. It is the raging growl of the lioness. The fearsome snarl of the wolf bitch.
No, to Nurture is not the easy-ride they would have us believe it to be. That is their myth. It is their deception and it suits them to keep it that way. But don’t heed their sentimental falsehoods. For nurture is arduous. It is a laborious task that must be undertaken with commitment and responsibility. With obligation. Nurture is vigilance. It is attentive. It is freely giving our most precious commodity – our time. And time is costly. But only time will allow growth to occur.
This is what nurture is like: It is the dance of the humble bee. Her whole life-span a whirl of perpetual motion. A constant hum of activity. A tireless tango of creation as she produces wax from her body in order to build the hive. A boundless waltz of communication as she moves from one flagrant flower another in a bid to gather nectar. A vigorous, wing-ed dance as she fans the nectar in order to set the honey. A constant hustle of protection as she cares for the eggs and larvae. Ceaseless in her determination to defend her colony and her queen.
Yes, Nurture is hard-graft. From the moment of conception to the birth and beyond. For once something as been birthed it must also be nourished and fed. It must be provided for and maintained. For if we allow it to starve then it becomes frail and insubstantial. It becomes weak and fragile. It will fade from existence if it is not nourished. It will perish if it is not fuelled.
This is what Nurture looks like: It is the enlarged teats of a star-tailed rabbit doe as she suckles her huge litter of kittens. It is the persistence of the owl’s needle-talons, as they rip and tear the meat from her hunt into small pieces to feed her new, wooly-feathered owlets. It is the body of the female spindle legged spider who allows her copious young to devour her in a cannibalistic feeding frenzy.
Listen to me for I have come to talk with you about my work. And the work of others like me. I am here to dispel the myth that Nurture is anything but strength, patience and tenacity. Sacrifice, labour and fortitude. Exertion, duty and struggle. Nurture is not for the faint hearted nor the weak-willed. But I can promise you this: in the end it’s value far outweighs its toil.
And I urge you to know my worth.