What is up with "motherly"?

I must apologize; I am not the best blogger.  If you follow me you would know there can be a lengthy wait for my next blog (blogging is not my full-time gig).  I think it creates suspense for those who can't wait for my next blog but sucks for those who really can't wait for my next blog.  Oh the sorrow!  I will try to get it together and write more often (I feel I have said this before in another blog). I want to say I promise but I don't want to break a promise; best not to promise but try harder.

The topic of this blog has been nestled in my head and heart for the past few months.  After distancing myself from the emotions of it (which tends to happen after I have taken a few breaths) I talked (I mean vented) to my supports and looked at it from multiple angles (which can take up to a few months to do).  I am now ready to write about it.  But first let me premise it with a story; everyone loves a story within a story as it winds the truth into focus.

Back when I was a little girl of 5 or 6 (approximately 45 years ago - give or take a few years), my dad moved us from the big city of Toronto to our community of  Birch Island (a reserve that would later take the name of Whitefish River First Nation).  In those days there was a rule (possibly from the Department of Indian Affairs or what is now known as Indigenous Services Canada) that you had to live on the reserve for a year before you could rent a house.  So my dad pitched up a tent beside his grandmother's house where our family lived for 3 seasons (my brother, me, my two sisters and dad).  It was nice at first, living in a tent because it was summer.  My mom had stayed in Toronto to work and would travel back and forth to visit but I don't remember seeing her very much (I was little - its hard to recall why she wasn't around often - maybe she was).  We got to spend a lot of time with my great grandmother as we ate our breakfast, lunch and supper with her before going back to the tent or playing outside.

We lived in that big ole green canvas tent for the fall and the start of winter before my great grandmother had us move into a small house her daughter had lived in with her family before moving to town.  It was a few yards/metres/whatever from her house and was falling apart.  Dad was great at making things work even if it wasn't so workable so we made the best of it and managed to survive.  But that's only a small part of the story.

My dad 
Dad took care of 4 kids (sometimes very rowdy ones) for a good year on his own.  He had the help of his aunts, uncles, cousins and my great grandmother but for the most part he was the one who took care of us.  My dad was the primary caregiver during that time and no one challenged his ability to take care of his children because he wasn't a woman.  Sure dad made mistakes (cutting our hair with a bowl on top of our heads was a good one) but he loved us and put band-aids on our cuts.  He gave us boundaries that we often broke and his hugs were always genuine.  It was a few more years before we moved into a house on the reserve (we lived in a house on the outskirts for a while until then) but we did get one. It now belongs to our youngest sister; mom and dad have since passed on to the spirit world.

When my children were little my dad would play wrestle with them and rub his scruffy beard (he could never grow a full beard) onto their little cheeks making them squeal out "help me mom!" in-between the giggles. Dad was good at showing us how to play (his last name in Ojibwe means One who Plays).  My son reminds me of my dad; always playing with and hugging his daughter; she is 3 years old now. It's interesting to see your child change and grow into a parent; throughout the years I often wondered what kind of dad he would make. Would he be the serious dad? the lovable dad? the dad you see in the movies who has got it all figured out (who really has it all figured out)?  I do believe he is well on his way to becoming the dad he wants to be and I am so gifted to get to see him grow into it.

Even though I wish the story to rest here, it doesn't. It moves on to something I have tried to understand but I struggle with; the false story Society pushes out about womyn.  If you listen closely to one of Society's story about womyn you can hear the tale it spins that only biological womyn can be nurturing and motherly to a child, especially because she gave birth to the child.  Ummm? Really?

Why do people continute to believe this to be true? I might point a finger at the colonial, patriarchal entity over there who is old as heck and goes by the name of Colonization (who names their kid Colonizaiton?) Heck no sense in maybe pointing - I am pointing a finger at colonization.  However, I don't want to go there right now so let's leave this here for another day and just continue pointing as we move on.

I know of womyn who are anything but motherly to their children; my mother was one of them.  Oh, she loved us in her own way (another story for another day) but was quick to remind us when we got into trouble or didn't do what she wanted how she never wanted children.  She didn't hug us much and it was rare to hear her say she loved us but she was a good provider and took care of us when sick.  Dad was all about love, hugs and play.  He was a risk taker where mom was a practical being; they clashed a lot.  They seperated a lot. Life was a barrel of monkeys; good thing we knew how to string them together and hold on tight!  Before I digress, on with the story within a story. 

The definition of motherly as defined by the good ole online Oxford dictionary on May 31st, 2022 is: 

"of, resembling, or characteristic of a mother, especially in bieng caring, protective, and kind."

Now who decided this definition?  I bet you it was Colonization in the corner over there trying to avoid my pointing finger!  But what if it we told Colonization to leave? I bet it would read:

"of, resembling, or characteristic of a human being (perhaps all beings), especially in being caring, protective and kind".

It would make more sense.  After all, isn't being caring, protective and kind what we all strive towards with our children, our partners and all our relations? That Oxford dictionary has some explaining to do! 

As a parent who raised her children with no support or partner, I can honestly tell you they were raised with care, kindness and love. I also did my best to proect them.  I didn't do it because they came out of my womb nor did I do it because I felt that "motherly instinct" kick in (I still don't know what that motherly instinct is).  

I can tell you I had to learn how to love the little beings I pushed into the world, especially when they cried at 2am and my eyes didn't want to work.  It is hard work loving and raising a child and it is not for everyone (some people really shouldn't have children).  Ya I said it - move on.  So when someone (usually the courts dominated by Colonization in the corner) says a man shouldn't have shared or full custody of his child because the child needs her/his mother due to the "motherly bond" I tend to loose my shit!  Yes I do.  

My son & his daughter
Imagine a world where we understood not everyone is a good parent based on their biological gender; what doors would then open for all of us? the children?  Imagine a world where we stopped telling womyn they should have children to make them whole;would womyn stop feeling so damn obligated to have a child they or their partner might not love?  Gosh darn it!  If more of us imagine it then I am sure it can be a reality. 

The main point, or should I say, I believe the main point of this story is your biological gender does not make you motherly or fatherly so stop fraternizing with Colonization over there in the corner.  He is up to no good. 

In good thoughts,



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