(About a 4 minute read)
I find it curious how much it seems to be uniform worldwide that we fail to recognize and value the contributions our mothers make to our intellectual lives. Not so our fathers — we are often acutely aware of what they’ve done for us. But our mothers are almost universally another matter.
Few people I’ve heard say, “Mom taught me how to think”. Instead, she has taught us just about everything but how to think. She has especially taught us how to feel warm and fuzzy about people and things. Which seems to me quite at odds with how to think — at least with how to think rationally.
In my defense, it’s not my fault I’m different here. Mom did indeed teach me how to think. I most likely owe her not only my skill at it, but also my loving focus on thinking as my main way of approaching life (which is something that has both its good and its bad points).
Mom was loving, but further from being warm and fuzzy loving than a teenage girl is from consenting to wear her dad’s thoughtfully purchased hand-crafted, Amish chastity belt on prom night. It always surprised me when she got sentimental about anything. She wouldn’t even allow our cute and furry yard cats to stay inside the house on the coldest nights.
Mom’s lessons in thinking were more than important to me. They were decisive. It is inconceivable to me that I would have taken the same paths in life had she raised me up differently to, most plausibly, have become a wandering preaching man in a second hand chicken suit.
Certainly, I would not have become the exceptionally driven, soon-to-be-Nobel-Prize-winning blogger that Teresums loves and admires today, bless her tiny little harbor slut heart.
That’s to say the value mom placed on such things as faith or the authority of others was about as huge as mouse poo — you could step on her belief in such things all day without it adding up to a dog’s capability for hating its own pack.
When I analyze it, mom did two things especially well. First she taught me the ins and outs of logical reasoning with which I would eventually learn to charm and dazzle young women into consenting to find someone else for a boyfriend. “You say you’re in love with me, but I must now submit to your candid appraisal six facts that when tallied up together amount to a reasonable condemnation of your feelings as mere infatuations, Stephanie. Number one…”
Growing up, mom was a hawk on an accursed mission from the devil to fluster and frustrate me. I was all but never allowed to lecture uninterrupted by her because she could spot a logical fallacy coming from 500 feet up, and she’d stoop on it immediately, thus almost constantly interrupting my absolutely self-fascinating speeches.
Moreover, she taught me how to string propositions and truth claims into tightly woven arguments. And it paid off big time! Bigger even than my considerably over-sized three fulsome inches of woman-pleasing pleasure-stick.
At university I excelled in my logic courses, once setting a campus record for the most points scored on exams and quizzes in the records of my professor. A feat mom herself actually didn’t buy as true at all. She thought I exaggerated.
Mothers! No matter how old you get, they still recall once wiping your helpless bum.
Her other decisive teaching is to me even a it more interesting, because it is much rarer that someone would teach it at all.
Mom explained to me the key value and importance of suspending judgment when I did not have enough reason or evidence to soundly arrive at a conclusion — and you can bet your tootsie she thoroughly encouraged me to apply her lesson, learn it by heart, until it became as reflexive as her insufferable pouncing on me for common mistakes in my logic.
To me, the honest value of suspending judgment — which is a notion derived in the West from Greek philosophers — cannot be over-emphasized. Unless you absolutely must act, it is always best to reserve conclusions about anything — no matter what pressures people place on you to quickly conform to their own views.
At the time, I profoundly appreciated the meaning and significance of her two lessons. “My mom has gone rock-solid raving bonkers”, I once told my best friend, Dennis, “I will do anything if your mom and dad will adopt me.” That is, I “appreciated” mom’s lessons in a decidedly negative way.
Yet today I see her lessons as priceless gifts, every bit as precious as the love she freely gave.