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I am a fan of Robert Fulghum (Books by Robert Fulgham), and his blog is one that usually has me thinking, and often chuckling. A few weeks ago he posted an article, “Reflection at Winter Solstice”, with the “Mother Questions” (sorry, the article is no longer available on his site – he doesn’t seem to keep archives more than a month). These questions made me stop and think, because I have said them as a mother. But as an adult, they take on another set of meanings.
The Mother Questions
What on earth have you done?
- Mother’s take: My mother used to say this to me when I screwed something up royally.
- Adult take: What have you done on the earth? Have you been a good steward? Are you working for those who live on the planet? What are your accomplishments?
What in the name of God are you doing?
- Mother’s take: This one was issued when my mother caught me doing something…usually before I managed to destroy or injure something. I believe the thought was that invoking deity would stop me in my tracks.
- Adult take: What are you doing for the higher good? Are you practicing what you believe?
What will you think of next?
- Mother’s take: This was issued after I had a crazy out-of-the-box idea. I believe the thought was to bring me back into conformity, so I wouldn’t stick out. It was also used after doing something off-the-wall (see the two points above).
- Adult take: What is your next big idea? Where are you going? What are you learning? What are your plans?
Who do you think you are?
- Mother’s take: My mother used this one to make sure I didn’t get too big-headed. Keeping my place was a good idea, in her mind, because those who rose above their place were often the target of jealousy.
- Adult take: Who are you, deep inside? How do you define yourself? What words do you use to describe yourself? What are your beliefs, your emotions and your thoughts?
These questions really made me stop and think about where I am.
Photo by christophercarfi