The Many Faces of Mother
To begin, I need to say that my choice to become a mother was one that required many thresholds. The most complicated piece was a miscarriage at age 20 that ended in 4 days in a hospital with blood transfusions, in Austria. The recovery took months physically, but psychologically took years. At 25, it was far enough away to address seriously. I became pregnant with no problem and had Joe 9 months later. He forever changed my life. He was followed by Hannah, Eva and Elizabeth, all separated by two years, give or take.
It was a hard choice to step into. I had helped raise six of my mother’s children and having my own almost felt unnecessary. And I wanted to be an opera singer. How would I do that and raise children? There were questions I had no answers for. In the end, I knew having children was the right thing for me to do. In this blog I want to touch on a few things about being a mother that I have learned these past 20 years, with my gleanings from being a big sis as well.
At Wild Communion, we have talked about how the wilderness is a feminine space; a place of the unknown, uncontrolled, untamed and unpredictable. It is also a place of breathtaking beauty, peace and deep relationship. It feels a little bi-polar, and it is all that and everything in between.
To choose motherhood-whether we are able to have our own children or not-requires a heart that is open to the unknown, able to take risk and look at everyday as an adventure. There are beautiful moments inside eternal days. There are years of chaos we barely remember (and we are grateful we took pictures because we would have completely forgotten). There are a million books out there about motherhood and I feel like I read about half of them. But in the end, I realized that what I needed to do most was listen to my heart with regard to raising my children.
They each needed attention, but what kind of attention did they need? Did they need firmness or softness; tough love or a cuddle…or both? After years of doing it right and wrong every day, I came to a place that I could begin to trust what I knew in my body.
Mothers know when to create space for growth and expansion, how to say no to the world’s many offerings and have a quite night at home. They know when to put away the computer, sit and watch a movie or play a game with everyone. They know how to boost the family morale with laughter, games, dancing and song. Every family is different. We did a lot of jeopardy-style quizzing at the table. We were a homeschool family and every minute was for learning. We also sang a lot and continue to make music and the accompanying messes together.
What I did not glean explicitly from my years assisting my mother and raising my own children was the understanding as to where deep respect and adoration for the mother originated and belonged. Raised as a Mormon in an evangelical hometown, there were only a sprinkling of Catholics. It was my relationship with Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene that helped me to see the worth of the feminine in relationship to the white-haired male God of my childhood. It was also fed by my studies in theology and the Goddess Kali Ma and the Black Madonna. These were strong women; women who endured the fire and pain of grief, shame, and misunderstandings. They were women who said yes; yes to incredible hardship, but the accompanying pain as well. The Black Madonna represents a purity that only comes by going through the fire, not averting it. Kali Ma is the creator and destroyer; a representation of the cycles of life itself in an embodied form.
There is so much that has been said about these dominant archetypes of the Mother. Being able to identify them in myself has changed a lot for me. It has allowed for my energy to wax and wane, my strength to be fed and feed, my love to be sweet and fierce; all without the label of bad or good, right or wrong. Just understanding the power in the cycles of life has released the shame of feeling inadequate or the fear of failure.
I come from a long line of strong women. I learn from them daily, even after their passing through the veil to the next life. They will forever be my teachers. The archetypal mother is as beautiful as a rainbow after a storm, as forceful as a hurricane, and as soft as a fluffy cloud-filled sky. To be a mother is to desire the best for not only our children, but all of the children, human and non-human; all the beings of the earth.
How do you feel your ability to step into the mother archetype has fed your abilities as teachers, mentors, lovers, coaches and workers? Please share your comments below.