Strolling through the Peabody Essex Museum last weekend (wow, something in my life must be working!) I found myself in the Indian exhibit stopping short in front of an image of the Hindu goddess Durga.
The image of this strong woman with her arc of eight arms arrested me with an unexpected sense of recognition. Replace her sword with a smart phone, her bow and arrow with a set of car keys, her staff with a binder of IEPs and medical records, and she resembled me, the flailing multi-tasking mom. What special needs mother these days wouldn’t recognize her own self in this image of an ancient Hindu over-caffeinated, over-achieving righteous mama?
But examining her in more detail, this self-assured glowing goddess riding astride a fierce tiger while conquering a demon that threatened to unravel the universe, I quickly realized I had found a role model, an inspiration, my patron saint. Here’s a bit of her story:
Durga is a mother goddess, according to the supreme source on all things holy, Wikipedia, who “can redeem in situations of utmost distress…a supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having ten arms, riding a tiger, carrying weapons and a lotus flower, maintaining a meditative smile…. An embodiment of creative feminine force, Durga exists in a state of svatantrya (independence from the universe and anything/anybody else, i.e. self-sufficiency) and fierce compassion…. Durga manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.”
Even her name inspires me. From the Sanskrit dur-= “with difficulty” and ga= “come” or “go”. Sometimes she’s referred to as Maa Durga, or Mother Durga. Like Durga, I am a mother who travels a path of many challenges. I’d love to think she’s got my back.