Goddess of the Week: Ceridwen

one. ugly. monkey.Image by chris.corwin via Flickr

There's nothing worse for a mother than to see her child suffer, just ask the Welsh goddess Ceridwen, who had the bad luck of giving birth to some of the ugliest children ever born. Take her oldest son, Afagddu (yeah! Try to survive middle school with that moniker). Afagddu was so hairy that people mistook him for a shag-carpeted ottoman. His teeth were rotten. His nose looked like a grapefruit. And his limbs were so scrawny and akimbo that his father once mistook him for moss-covered kindling.

Think of every mean name you've ever been called. Think of every person who teased you. Now multiple that by the entire planet: Now you've got poor Afagddu's childhood. He was the butt of so many jokes that even goats laughed when he walked by. It was a bad scene.

Mothers can do a lot for their children, but there are some things they can't do. Mothers can't take their children's SATS. They can't shield their children from every hurt and insult. And they can't take Afagddus and turn them into people you would want for your secret boyfriend. All mothers can do is try and help their children make the most of what they have, which is all to say that Ceridwen had a plan.

If Afagddu couldn't be beautiful, she decided he could be wise. In fact, she decided he could be the wisest man who ever lived. She totally signed him up Kumon. Plus, she decided to make him this special wisdom potion. It took a year and a day to boil, and when it was done there were only three drops of it -- but that was all Afagddu would need. Unfortunately, one of the drops fell on Cerdiwen's younger son, Gwion Bach, who licked it right up, so poor Afagddu only became smart enough to know how ugly everyone thought he was, which made him really depressed.

Now, when you've been cooking something special for a year and a day, and one of your kids snags it when it isn't even for them, it kind of pisses you off. I mean, just think how annoying it is to stand there stirring instant pudding, and that only takes one minute. We're talking A YEAR AND A DAY OF STIRRING A FRICKING POT ON THE STOVE. It'd turn Cinderella into a bitch. So we kind of have to forgive Ceridwen for getting so mad at Gwion Bach that she ate him. (Besides, it's not like he was dead forever. He got to be reincarnated as some totally famous bard, which was cool for him and which just goes to show that bad mommy moments are not irredeemable.)

Ceridwen reminds us that mothers can't solve everything, even when they're goddesses. Mothers can point us toward paths, but they can't choose them for us, and they sure can't strap us on their backs and make for the horizon.

Channel this goddess: Usually around science fair time, but you'll know when else it's appropriate.

Need a goddess: I got goddesses! Tell me what you need in the comment section and I'll see what I can find.

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Desiree said...

omg--I can so relate--my daughter chipped her front tooth this weekend, and I was the one to have the meltdown--

Deb said...

It's so hard sometimes to stand back and let the chips fall where they may for your kids. But, I suppose it's a good thing we can't completely control our children's destinies...Lord knows I've made enough mistakes on my own than to also be responsible for all my daughter's screw-ups too.

Great story, told only the way that you can do it! :o)

Olga said...

...which just goes to show that bad mommy moments are not irredeemable.
I love that...I still have anxieties about my children (now in or approaching middle age).

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I'm a little concerned for the creature in the photo. I can't tell if the handler is holding him or trying to squeeze his lights out. And I know he didn't sip the potion.

Missy AKA Little Messy Missy said...

I love that story... wishing I could take some of the painful teenage years away from my children but knowing the trials and hurts will make them caring adults.

MamaJosephine said...

totally awesome post! I didn't know this story about Ceridwen's children... and I can totally relate!

a request - Unless you have already posted about her and I missed it, I would love a post about Hestia!!thx!

Rois said...

I'd like to know what in the heck that thing in the photo is. You kind of have to feel sorry for it ging through life looking like that.

Petrea said...

Margaret, this is great stuff. I can barely stand to stir a stew for myself, much less for other people, and for a year? Forget it.

Don't feel too bad, Olga. At least you're not ordering them around. My mother was still trying to tell me what to do when I was in my forties. Not that I listened.

Diarrhea Birdturd. She couldn't save me from that and it only got worse.

... daisy... said...

Lovely post Margaret!
An old southern Italian saying: "Ogni scarrafone รจ bello a mamma soi"... (Dialect)
That means "Every cockroach is beautiful to its mother"
But mothers can do much for their children, but they can't do everything!

Shell Sherree said...

Mothers really are quite amazing.

altadenahiker said...

God, it all sounds so darned hard.

Bec said...

Wow - great story this week. I'm relatively new at this but I'm getting the feeling that moms never stop feeling like they're messing their kids up.

Margaret said...

Des: The same thing happened to me when my daughter chipped her tooth, but that was just a baby tooth. What happens when it's a permanent tooth? Why did that not stress her out?

Deb: I love your perspective. It's hard enough to take responsibility for your own screw ups.

Olga:Oh no, I was hoping I'd be over those anxieties eventually!

PA: I don't know what it is. It's some kind of monkey. He definitely did not sip the potion. His good-looking brother probably stole it.

Missy: I hope you're right. Lord knows we return some sort of payoff for enduing the teen years.

MamaJ: You got it!

Rois: I do feel sorry for it. It's one weird looking thing though.

Petrea: Diarrhea birdturd? Was that your WV? If so, wow!

Daisy: I look it when you use Italian, and that's a great saying.

Shell: Or unbelievable short sighted.

AH: These days I am much preferring my dog.

inkywasfat said...

"bad mommy moments are not irredeemable" LOL!

I'm having some of this stuff going on right now and have no idea what to do. My words only go so far, so the boy has got to step up.

Are you going to make a book of these? They're fantastic.

Petrea said...

It was may nickname. The only thing they could think of that rhymed with my name. Unimaginative brats.

Jess said...

I need a goddess. In the past week, my father was diagnosed with throat cancer (it looks treatable, but still scary), we found out my husband got a 3 year job in Japan (exciting, but also scary) and a check we got from money a friend owed us bounced, leaving our account over $400 negative. Oh, and I have two children under three. Help?

TheChieftess said...

Fabulous tale of mommyhood Margaret!!!

OMG Petrea...you got stuck with Diarrhea Birdturd??? My maiden name was Murman and I got Murmaid and Birdman...but oh...Thank God...never anything like Diarrhea Birdturd!!!! You are marvelously well adjusted after growing up with that moniker!!!

Petrea said...

I was born with a sense of humor, Chieftess. It's like a suit of armor.

Shell Sherree said...

Don't mind me ~ just had to come and have another look at that poor little terrified creature. Damn, I'm worried about him now.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Whose wanted this Goddess, MF?

Pasadena Adjacent said...

just so you know. I've got a new post up. They usually show up 16 hours later on everyones blog rolls. I've complained to wordpress who blames blogger (the dog has no problem)...saw the road trip dvd. I'm going to retire for the night with Fashion Runway.

Jess said...

adding to my stress- I live on Oahu...

Margaret said...

I'm working on it, Jess. Hold tight. Glad the tsuanami danger was negligible.