A friend called today to find out how the root canal went (see Wake Me Up When the Light Turns Green). I forgave her for not reading the post because she’s got a big office job and a ten-month-old daughter. Her parents help out. This woman is smart, beautiful, funny, independent, and has always had a deservedly high opinion of herself. But she’s feeling inadequate because, after a nasty bout of mastitis, complete with 103 degree fever-borne hallucinations, her milk supply is dwindling. And because those around her are making fun of her for not finishing things. Like combing her hair. Like buttering a piece of toast.
Did she not just finish making an entire human being?
I told her that almost every new mother I’ve known has felt inadequate. For one thing, it comes with living in a consumer society. If you feel good enough about yourself, then you don’t have to buy anything to make you better. It’s also a product of, in spite of all the mom blogs and www.babycenter.com, not having a realistic set of expectations.
I told her she is a goddess. There were civilizations, long ago, that worshipped the mother figure–fat ass, saggy boobs, slabs o’ back fat and all. “Whoever’s making fun of you should be bowing down before you instead of going to church,” I said.
I remembered those Earth Mother figurines carved by matriarchal societies twenty-odd thousand years before the arrival of the Son of God were called doni, and so that’s what I Googled for a picture. The computer corrected my spelling to dhoni and gave me this:
The star of India’s cricket team. Better than a sharp stick in the eye. When I tore myself away to resume my search, keeping my original spelling, I got a Brazilian soccer player goalkeeping for Liverpool. Could be worse.
Then there’s a link to www.cannabisvoice.com, a proponent of Doni Garden Scrub, an all-natural skin cleanser that comes in four (unlisted) scents. Closer. But still nothing about Mother Goddesses.
I first concluded that, according to Our Googleness, many more people these days worship these dudes than mother goddesses. Can you blame them? They’re so cute. And, after all, there’s only one Dhoni. And one Doni. Mothers are a dime a dozen. But then I realized I was just feeling sorry for myself, and using a search term that had obviously last been used in a Massachusetts classroom in 1989. I found her, at last, yes, under the heading “Mother Goddess.”
Mothers are goddesses. Not an original claim. They create life, they sustain life, they give hope. But no one tithes to them, or even pays them for what they do. This works of course because, between bouts of sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion, the job is so great, you’d do it for free. Which is good, because you do. It’s a lot like writing, that way. You generally receive subsidies, from a partner or your office-dwelling alter ego, but anyone who’s ever been on the dole will tell you that handouts demoralize. Getting paid gives validity to your efforts, and confers a certain status: Look! Someone wants to pay me for this! I must be pretty good at it!
But mothers are not about to go on strike.
I sometimes imagine what a matriarchal society that worshipped the Mother Goddess would look like. I envision government-subsidized titanium infant car seats and drive-through windows at every grocery store. Countertops three inches higher, and stoves with burners set back six inches from the edge. Electrical outlets four feet off the ground. Cleaning and kitchen help would be as ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive as having a cell phone. The culture would think the big ol’ chick pictured above is as good-looking as Dhoni and Doni. Everyone would aspire to have an ass like that.
What do you worship?