my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


The Most Important Choice

I'm tempted to make some sweeping statement like "a mother because she must be, a father because he chooses to be" ... but I know there are no universal truths, no matter how much we wish for them.

But what I want to speak to, on this eve of Mother's Day, is the most important role a mother plays: the choosing of the father of her child.

That first responsibility is perhaps the greatest. It will shape that child like no other decision she makes.

I suppose there are some women who should never be, or should never have been, mothers. Temperamentally unsuited, lacking any maternal predisposition or skills, maybe cold or damaged.

But despite all that, even that mother can salvage her child through the most basic of acts: by either luck or good judgement, breeding with a male who lovingly takes responsibility for the being he helps create.

I know humans I consider to be good mothers. And, at this age, I am more and more aware of the humans who turned out to be exemplary fathers.

I wasn't lucky enough to have experienced good fathering as a child (although I have been extremely fortunate to have been nurtured by my partner, the man I believe to be the finest father in the world), so I am sensitized to what a good father is, and isn't.

Even at this late, late stage in my life, I have benefited from that nurturance. I can't imagine why I was given this gift.

And I encourage anyone reading this who, as a child, shared my belated experience -- that of having benefited from the kindness, patience and wisdom of a man who met the challenge of being a good father ...

Tell your mother how grateful you are for the choice she made.


Blogger WinterWheat said...

True, so true. I love the way you phrase things.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that if it hadn't been for my father's patience and stability, I'd have floundered completely. My mom did the best she could, but an abusive childhood damaged her emotionally, and it showed in her erratic and occasionally scary mothering. My dad, while far from perfect, was kind, humble, and reliable. So at least I had some idea that such behavior could be expected (and demanded) from men.

I look at my husband with my daughter now, and he's so much fun to watch. He's the sweet, goofy, playful, easygoing dad, but responsible and concerned with safety too. When we met I was really attracted to him physically, but at first thought he might be boring because he wasn't as impulsive and dark as my previous boyfriends. When he asked me to marry him, I balked because I wasn't sure that I wanted to get married. Then I took a good look at what I wanted out of life, and knew that if I let him go, I'd regret it to the end--especially because I hoped to have children one day, and I knew he'd make an exemplary dad.

Thank you for this post, M. Tomorrow I'll tell him about your philosophy that a crucial part of mothering is choosing the right partner, and thank him for being that guy. :-)

5:22 PM

Blogger Doug said...

I agree, Winterwheat. Everything Mireille has a note of jasmine.

Man, I hope that's the compliment I meant. Maybe I should have said "sounds like a ground-rule double coming off the bat."

I just don't have your gift, Mireille.

4:03 PM

Blogger mireille said...

WW, thanks for the kind words re phrasing ...
Doug, you have plenty of your own gifts. Also: look up the word indole, re jasmine. And thanks for the gum.


7:37 PM

Blogger ariel said...

ah Mireille, you are making me want to go out and look for a father immediately!

1:53 PM

Blogger Doug said...

Gosh, Mireille, I sure am glad to know what you call the crystalline form of C8H7N. I wonder if Ambrose Bierce knew that word.

@Ariel Too funny

5:04 PM


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