Those of us who are old enough will remember (fondly or otherwise) a time when as a kid we weren’t allowed to leave the table until we ate all our vegetables. Alongside the insistence that we “Eat your veggies!” was the reminder that in some distant part of the planet there were children who were starving who would give anything to eat the food we were turning our noses up at. And there was no way we’d get to eat our dessert until after the main course! Whilst we may have had no idea where Africa was, or why anyone would want to eat spinach other than Popeye, we did (mostly) what we were told and even if we didn’t grow to love our veggies as I did, we actually benefited from the nutrients they provided. Moreover, despite the argument that the food on our table was never going to be eaten by the children in hungry nations, we were being taught to consider others and that we are all connected; some of what it means to share this planet with what are now several billion people.
For many of our parents or grandparents, who had witnessed the devastation of war and starvation, being able to provide sustenance for their loved ones was of paramount concern and something of which they were duly proud. Whether they were using guilt or not, deep down our parents were teaching us to appreciate our own good fortune, to keep things in perspective and to respect food and the effort that had gone into producing it and getting it to the table. We also learned that we didn’t always get what we wanted and that our parents were not going to be manipulated – at least not so easily! On reflection these were major life lessons and invariably something that required an iron will on the part of our mothers in particular to instigate!
Eating our veggies, like doing our ‘homework’, or swallowing a bitter pill, are valuable metaphors for what it takes to make it in life. They help us to build the resilience required to see us through the tough times and do the things that need to be done even when we don’t wanna do it! For all those things our mothers did – and still do – to ensure that we grow up strong and healthy and have the best chance to be happy in life … Mother’s Day is but one of many days of the year to show our gratitude. Through their efforts to instil positive values in us they gave us a foundation on which to build our lives. And through listening to us and helping us to find our own answers, their guidance allowed us to safely fly from the nest and know that their work was done!
Inner Sense No. 34 | June 2013