Woolworths Bermagui a Wednesday.
the aisle of refrigeration dog food and toilet paper was where we met and hugged over our trolleys.
having recently moved away from my beloved forest away from wren and wallaby, away from the angel of fermentation and wombat, I am being called upon to delve deeply into my values into the depths of who I think I am. a subject I did not want to review in the supermarket.
I tried to sneak past this young friend while she peered at her phone in the personal care aisle.
instead I was busted debating the eco-friendly possibilities of bamboo toilet paper.
a night shift worker at the local hospital she has an hours drive to work negotiating country roads and animals that insist on crossing without looking both ways. along with fulltime work she has two children a daughter of school age and a son at preschool.
after learning that I had moved into the village she said – I like the idea of a separate residence – I could see myself doing that.
her and I met more than 10 years ago. She was an activist and the same age as a daughter. We lived in community on the side of a dusty road for many months witnessing the clear felling of a beautiful forest on Wandella Mountain near my home.She explains that her partner who is my age is a neat person ( she isn’t) with very definite ideas on everything and insists his ideals are maintained.
She says, it is oppression you know while acknowledging that she loves him very much.
stories weave back and forth of family and relationships and community and work, striving to make sense of life and love and who we are within it all.
I wonder at this complexity of male and female, of values and differences. there are threads common to the stories we share and the issues that tear us apart.
The division of labour for instance – who does what and is it equal?
there is an idea for instance that women don’t do as much as men. Does this arise because a greater value is placed upon the jobs that men do?
we all know that Women’s work is undervalued and largely invisible.
in the beginning Feminism assumed that equal pay would help repair the divide but it goes much deeper than this.
What value is there in a vase of flowers on the kitchen table?
What value do we place on a hand on a shoulder or a swept floor?
Who polishes the art of harmony within the family and who dares to unify and restore?
Who honours the mother by holding the ceremony singing the songs and re weaving the tattered fragments of the tapestry of existence?
Who buys the toilet paper and the toothpaste and more importantly who cleans the toilet?
Women are unto them Selves a Space – they are creator energy , a force of nature, fiercely protective and deeply nurturing . Their capacity ranges from the warmth of a smile and a willingness to yield, to the manifestation of wild original creative solutions, to holding deep attention and active listening , a gateway to the other realm, a nag, a miracle maker, an eyes in the back of the head multi tasker, a healer and wisdom friend, a witch, a spiritual counsellor, a hand-held and a kiss bestowed , an accountant, a manager , a cleaner , a maker of beauty , a guru…a light in the middle of uncertainty…
these days it is common to outsource jobs but once upon a time when the roles were more fixed men were often the ones who changed the tap washers, unblocked the kitchen sink, fixed the car, changed the tyre, mowed the lawns, put the aerial on the roof, did the building painting wallpapering sanding and blasting and moaned a bit about all these jobs piling up when really they wanted to fish or read the newspaper or watch the rugby or a smoke a pipe.
I do recall my father getting praised for these activities as if it was something grand he had done and I wonder now at the wisdom of this. Perhaps women have a tendency to over value the doings of men while downplaying their own activities.
what is truly grand is a Woman birthing a baby the act of bearing life onto the planet. this is still a Miracle – each and every time it happens – an amazing feat and only the beginning of the journey we call Motherhood.
my mother was a busy lady, she sewed knitted crocheted and embroidered making my clothes her clothes, my fathers underpants, sheets pillow cases curtains, jumpers hats bags . She recovered the furniture, cooked all the meals, preserved fruits and veges, made jams and chutney, cakes and bread and biscuits. She wrote letters to their families, sent out the christmas and birthday cards, cleaned and mended, paid the bills, drove a car, shopped and reared three children to adulthood while acting as social secretary soothsayer lover and healer And putting up with some serious bad-tempered behaviour at times.
She was not a super woman, she was normal, she was like all the other mums in our suburb doing what they had to do to the best of their ability. What I do not remember is mum ever being praised.
Mum was also on hand at the drop of a hat to hold the ladder steady, offer advice , act as a sounding board, pass tools up into the roof, make the cups of tea for dad and his mates, nod and listen to tales of carburettors and specials nuts that had to be specially made to fit unique situations and yes we all agreed that father was a bit of a genius but so was mum.
And there is the nub Women just get on and do what they have to do without a fuss.
Still in the woollies aisle my young friend told me about coming home from night shift getting the children off to school doing a shop having a sleep, tidying up, a load of washing, pulled a few weeds out, watered the seedlings and cooked the evening meal. He likes boiled carrots with his meals and she loves to create in the kitchen. On this day she boiled them and then tossed garlic oil and herbs and baked them again. after dinner while they sat around the table with their daughter and son she asked how he liked them. His reply was palatable.
I was speechless.
It seemed unspeakable cruelty but perhaps it was his truth and I would prefer that he lied.
Oh dear. Where does that leave me?
my value system arises out of a deeply held loving respect of nature of the earth of the creation. I also appreciate the mystery, the inquiry, the process of creativity and the celebration of diversity and generosity. I share these values with many, men and women. So how is it that we have this breakdown between the feminine and the masculine value systems and how do we resolve it.
This socialised value system which applauds men and denies justice to women, is the very same system that denies respect to Mother Earth. For peace love and harmony to prevail, for Mother Earth to be honoured then we must cast aside judging ourselves, judging anyone, as less than.
It is a centuries old dilemma and one that we no longer have the luxury of time for.
This is a coming together time – it is time to sing together ,dance the dances and restore the respect and gratitude to our Mother Earth.
Part of this task is for Women to learn to value themselves, that no amount of legislation or workshops can do this for us. We have to own the space that we are – the awesome all-encompassing radiant vibration of the Feminine. The masculine can only be great and praiseworthy when we learn to offer deep appreciation to our Selves.
when Women truly recognise their own value we enhance the value of the ‘other ’ which is kinda like saying as we value our selves we discover that there is no ‘other’ that all is indeed one.
In a world in which this vast assault on the Mother is taking place flowers in a vase on the table is a radical action of hope for a future of beauty and deep caring.