September 12, 2010

Don’t be the frog

I sat with a learned man recently who told me the story of the frog in boiling water. Evidently frogs are very thick skinned and possibly not particularly smart. So, say a frog is put in a pot of water at room temperature and is  happily swimming around. As the temperature of the water is turned up the frog continues to swim unaware of the increasing heat because it adapts to the temperature. It adapts and adapts and adapts and then BOOM – dead.

Eww. Not a good story. But as I overcame the utter gruesomeness of it , I thought it actually is quite a brilliant analogy. Think of mothers. All the mothers of young and growing children that I know knock themselves out on a daily basis. They are exhausted and harried, constantly trying to catch up. It doesn't start out that way. Originally, as motherhood descends, the woman's life is still as she has known it for probably all of adulthood. But things happen. Children have needs and the needs of a baby doesn't come close to foreshadowing the needs of the bigger ones. Then, often, there is more than one. Or two. It's not like they have less needs just because there is more of 'em. But there is still only one mother. Ah, that's the rub. We don't multiply in ratio to the size of our growing families. So we adapt and we adapt and we adapt and then BOOM – we no longer remember who we were to begin with.

If every day we start to recover a small piece of our authentic selves, and nurture it with a modicum of  care, perhaps we can create a truly satisfying balance of past and present.

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