Femininity covers a broad spectrum of extraordinary and delightful qualities. Fortunately, for us all, every woman is born with these qualities innate in her being. Like a muscle though, our femininity may atrophy from disuse. To make femininity more accessible and easier to understand, we group these qualities together in archetypes we call “Temptress,” “Mother,” and “Queen.” These archetypes, obviously, do not exist in reality, but they make it easier to see the effects of femininity.
Woman as Nurturer.
The Mother includes those qualities that are generally referred to as “nurturing,” such as patience, faith or belief in a person, caring, healing, serving, comforting, consoling, and sympathizing. The Mother focuses on individual needs and qualities and makes the object of her attention feel special.
Men are often accused of “looking for a mother.” I say: Wouldn’t you? I haven’t outgrown my need for nurturing and don’t believe I ever will. Women are fortunate to often have many friends with Mother qualities, and I believe we take them for granted. We don’t fully appreciate that nurturing is a distinctly feminine capacity and few men can count on receiving it from their male friends.
As with the Temptress, men respond to the Mother in predictable ways. She makes a man feel cared for and cared about. She is a safe haven from the hardships of life and puts him back together for the next adventure or battle. Her belief in him strengthens him. Her attention and ministrations renew him. Her food often warms his belly while her encouragement warms his spirit.
Mothering: A Turn Off for Men.
It is important to distinguish between these wonderful feminine qualities we group together as the Mother, and “mothering.” Mothering is a sneaky way to force one’s advice, food, and affection on other people and it makes them feel about five years old and stupid. Men find it emasculating and a huge turn off. The major difference between mothering and the Mother is control. The Mother offers her qualities as gifts and the receiver remains in control, choosing to accept what he will. The person who is mothering takes control and dominates the moment.
Most Men Require Mother in a Wife.
Most men consider the nurturing qualities of the Mother a requirement in a wife. In the stage we call Prince, when many men begin searching in earnest for their wives, they naturally start looking for women with these qualities. Whereas before this stage, they probably dated much more exciting women. Men know that the better they are cared for, the more successful they will be. The adoration the Temptress inspires and the admiration the Queen evokes are no substitute for the care and comfort the Mother provides.
The Mother occurs to men as the place from which he will get what he needs. Kind of like Wal-Mart or Target. Have you ever thought, “Gee, Wal-Mart does so much for me. What could I do for Wal-Mart?” This is how the Mother is for men. All that she provides inspires appreciation but not reciprocation. The desire to provide for a woman is inspired by the Queen.
Too Much Self-Sacrifice Can Exhaust Us.
One of the qualities of the Mother is self-sacrifice. Thank goodness for this or none of us would have survived infancy. But without the boundaries the Queen maintains, the Mother will sacrifice for anyone. In other words, she’ll always put other people’s needs first and anyone who crosses her path will get nurtured. This can leave her exhausted.
Nurture Yourself to Nurture Others.
To nurture the nurturer in you, there are two different directions to go. If you already nurture others, take time for yourself. To renew your ability to nurture, you may need to rest, get more sleep, and/or spend more time alone.
If you don’t think you are nurturing, then practice. Spend time caring for children, animals, or the elderly. Consciously, for a little while, make someone else more important than yourself.
There is a reason the Mother has a national holiday in her honor. It is not just everything she does. The qualities she embodies make the world a better place.
By Alison A. Armstrong
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