Godmothers with a green thumb can provide an energy-efficient model of "grand" parenting.
When it comes to Mother’s Day, it’s natural for us to focus on our own mothers — or, if we are older, our relations with our children and grandchildren. But why not share with others that special, unconditional and supportive maternal energy surge we were blessed with?
Beyond the biological/familial connections that unite us, there is a world of spiritual connectivity just waiting for our embrace. We can branch out and connect — and interconnect — generationally. Just as there are professional mentors, the potential to become an “organic god-mother” is yours for the taking!
At certain times in our lives, we can all benefit from someone else’s life experience. In my book, The Green Bubbie, I posit that there is a need and a longing in our world for honest, mindful and meaningful connection. A “green bubbie” is a non-biological relationship — an energy-efficient model of “grand” parenting in which you don’t even need to have your own children; you can nurture somebody else’s.
Think of a “green bubbie” as the accidental relative you meet on the road to finding yourself. If you do have children or grandchildren of your own, hopefully they, too, will have “green bubbies” in their lives, offering essential nutrients of relationship and human support that we all need to keep blooming.
Our lives develop through many stages, withstanding geographic transplants, new professional opportunities and spiritual journeys. At each juncture, finding someone who is a step ahead and willing to lend an ear can be worth more than all the self-help books on the shelf.
Sharing the ups and downs of a years-long marriage, career alternatives, retirement options and child-rearing challenges with a younger person can put a reality check into an otherwise bland emotional checklist of pros and cons of life’s choices. Being an available and enlightened elder can offer pathways yet unexplored or even unimagined by a younger person.
A gardener knows that if you split the roots of a perennial plant, you will be able to start a new plant, and the original will be able to spread its roots and grow stronger. We humans are like those plants — when we share our “roots,” we are strengthened in the process.
So on Mother’s Day, I think of mine, Anne Warnick Pinkenson A”H. She taught me how to love — and, just as importantly, how to be loved. But I needed to learn how to survive without my mother, who died at age 66. I have continued to learn from incredibly caring, brilliant and passionate women who have cared for me.
I learned I could turn to the women who reached out to me, stood by me at each of life’s milestones and showed up as “grand” parents at our simchas to extend our growing family. Because they stood by me, I now can stand by — and stand with — a younger generation. I can now be a role model to the next generation.
We can all learn from generations older and younger than us. Nurture those relationships — it’s how we grow as family, as community, as klal Yisrael. Magnify the love you’ve received, branch out, and you, too, can thrive as a “green bubbie!”
Ruth Pinkenson Feldman, a local artist, writer and nationally recognized Jewish educator, is the author of The Green Bubbie. Email her at: email@example.com.