When I came upon Stoicism, I immediately become a fancier. I felt an exalting delight of relief, comfort and joy, for, in many of its concepts, I recognized my own insights. I spent a lot of time reading, thinking and introducing others to the ideas of Stoicism. In many aspects, it is similar to Buddhism, to which I also relate. So, I absorbed all wise words of all these wise men and tried to apply them to soothe my worries, anxieties and fears. Yet, slowly one question started corroding my philosophical delight:
Does Stoicism actually apply to a mother?
Does any philosophy at all apply to a mother?
I gave childbirth naturally, without any interventions or anesthesia. Birth is the most sublime act, but the sight and sound of a woman in labour is not a nice thing. For me, the closest imaginable pain would be if you had your insides twisted, pushed and pulled, and being stabbed in the stomach and the back, all at the same time, for hours. And if at this moment, all great philosophers (mostly men) from all centuries and all parts of the world, would have gathered around my bed, do you think, they could have found a single word that would have made any sense to me?
Do you think that an army of philosophers could find a single word that would make any sense to a mother who, God forbid, had a miscarriage or her baby was stillborn or born prematurely?
Do you think that a mountain of all wise words of all philosophers would make any sense to those yearning to be mothers, but can not be?
There are great philosophy postulates out there! Live in the present, do not regret the past or fear the future. Do not worry about things that are out of your control. The reality is perception, and life is change.
All sound very wise, very accurate, and very comforting. In one abstract world, these teachings are the key to all human suffering. Therefore they click quickly to nearly everyone.
Yet, do you think that a mother can find any comfort in such pearls of wisdom when her three months old baby has a fever? Or when her teenage son or daughter is a drug addict? Or her adult child lives in an abusive relationship?
Thre are great philosophers ( mostly men) — and indeed many of their teaching work in many cases.
The truth is that a mother thinks and operates differently than other living creatures. Since giving birth, the mother’s insides are twisted, pushed and pulled when her child suffers, or worry, or is afraid, or unsafe, or sick, or is starving. For her children, a mother would undergo things far beyond everything described in any philosophical book.
I would love to see a philosophical school founded by a mother. But I came to realize why there are none. While philosophers think and write about life, mothers are busy giving, keeping and protecting it.