Last night I was lucky enough to be able to speak to a large group of students studying Social Sciences at McMaster University. I’ve done many public speaking gigs before, so the size of the audience wasn’t intimidating, it was the nature of the lecture that I found paralyzing. I stood before them not as a business woman—but as a mother.
As with everything that is to be taught and learned in our lives, I behooved these students to be as objective as they could be, while listening to a subjective story-teller whose passion was animated enough to convince them the sky was green. I was speaking from personal experience and the subject matter was the single most important thing in my life. My children; one of whom is a transgender girl.
I stood before them explaining that throughout time, nature has given us two kinds of mothers. There are those mothers who will stop at nothing to protect their young, or the young of others. And then there are those who will abandon or eat their own young. I reduced this battle of altruistic versus egoistic behaviour to it’s simplest—without getting into a philosophical debate with regard to perspectives of the beneficiary—as the basis for my introduction. Although, in person… I’m not quite as refined. I can never remember, is it always cuss in front of the students or never cuss in front of the students?
So what kind of mother am I? I’m a T. Rex. Top of the food chain, baby.
I explained that in no way was I faulting the mothers who abandon their young. They are the opposite side of the maternal coin in a tricky balance of nature. In earlier periods, this behaviour was self-preservation from the world they lived in; where predators of all sizes loomed above them. With mortal danger imminent, they would sacrifice their young to save themselves. And, although the nature of those dangers have long since disappeared for us humans—the evolution of this continued fear of “being eaten alive” by predators has perpetuated the fight or flight mothering divide. Abandon your young to save yourself.
Humans could not have survived in nature without the charity and reciprocity of a group or individual. For the young that have been kicked out of the nest, that’s where these students will come in. One day they will be part of the necessary support system that will show these individuals that altruistic behaviour does exist. They will help these people understand that they are loved, accepted and necessary—regardless of the reasons they were abandoned by their mothers. The mother’s choice to abandon is ALWAYS about the mother.
Part of the adaptation into a happy and “normal” lifestyle for all those condemned as different will be based on how they are treated. How we react to the needs of our youth—right here and now today—will set precedents for future generations. Do NOT segregate people into boxes of conformity. Do NOT place labels of identification on our young that will later be used for discriminatory injustices against them—and Do NOT fix what isn’t broken. (Can I get a hells yeah?)
This is the opportunity to re-define “normal” and trip the natural balance to praise the uniqueness of ALL people, instead of pointing fingers at the differences. Let “normal” become the outcast. Burst forth into your lives with passion and focus your educated eyes of therapy on those who need it—the mother who abandoned her young and the judgmental predators who stalk her.
Many thanks to Will Rowe of The Well, who invited me to speak to the students and also for all that he does in his work in social services and support of youth. The force is strong my friend, the future is ours.