Does the solitude of modern motherhood serve a purpose?
As a highly introverted creature even I can attest to the solitude of motherhood, and I know I am not alone in that (ha). If solitude is part of the experience, it must serve a purpose.
Solitude is a state
Loneliness a feeling
Could it be that
the modern mother’s solitude
holds a moment for self reflection
A reunion with the heart.
An opportunity to get to know ourselves again. The truth of our Being.
Have we moved so drastically far
From our own silent inner knowing
That motherhood is the cosmic force that begs us back.
We are social beings. We need community. We need support, but
solitude is necessary for personal introspection.
Perhaps this moment is for us, mamas?
Perhaps we must first come to know our innermost beings and THEN we experience the authentic connection we so desire.
What is light? No on knows.
Particles, waves, energy?
Light reflects. It also refracts: passes through and bends.
A leaf absorbs all colors and reflects green. An apple absorbs all colors and reflects red.
Everything the eye can see is a reflection of light, and in the absence of light the eye sees nothing. The same is true for our hearts. Everything the heart can see is a reflection of light and in the absence of light the heart can see nothing.
When a heart blossoms it turns toward the light just as a flower turns to the sun. We receive Divine light, and we can spiritually see. Awaken. We see the light in ourselves and the light in our neighbors. We feel the light we absorb, we see the light we reflect, the light others reflect, and the source of light we share.
Healthy mothers are the greatest cause for hope on earth.
We cannot affirm life until we affirm mothers.
We cannot affirm the fetus until we affirm the mother.
We cannot affirm children until we affirm mothers.
We cannot affirm women until we affirm mothers.
Yes the pregnant mother, the birthing mother, the mother of school aged children, but above all of these mothers we must affirm the mother of the smallest most dependent humans. We must affirm the mothers of the infants, the ignored postpartum castaway who holds in a brief moment the most critical phase of a human’s life, infancy.
We face a myopic patriarchy. We see the trees and no forest. We see a fetus but no infant. We see a pregnant woman but no mother. We have forgotten that a baby is helplessly dependent on his mother for the first months of his life, yet we have every shred of evidence to show that optimal well being begins with a healthy bond between mother and newborn. This bond does not start at some arbitrary moment. It does not start in kindergarten or in puberty; it begins in the very first moment after birth.
Some say the first six months are most critical, some say the first year is the primal period, others argue the first three years are fundamental. The time frame is irrelevant because we afford new mothers nothing. We must provide mothers the chance to be available and physically/mentally healthy for their young babies. The US has an embarrassingly high maternal mortality rate not only in birth but in the first year postpartum as well as zero federally mandated maternity leave. Women are sideswiped and ignored in new motherhood with a standard six week check up, vague depression screening, and backwards “bounce back” rhetoric. Women don’t know they have a mood disorder; they think they are failing. Women rush back to work either because they financially have to or they want to maintain some level of decency respect and sanity in this masculine society that they have worked ridiculously hard to achieve. Maybe they cannot bond with the child because they themselves didn’t receive the love they needed. So many scenarios.
Some want choice. Some want life. I want healthy pregnancies, safe births, and supported postpartum. I want women to confidently hold their babies close, love them, protect them, and raise them in dignity. A male policy maker will never know what it means to be a mother. He will never be stretched in elation or exhaustion as is a new mother. He will never hold the sedative power of a mother’s hum, milk, arms, or scent. A baby’s cry will never be visceral in his body. Of course the father is important, but the father’s bond is different from the mother’s. In the early moments he has a supporting role, but the mother and baby are primary.
We must stop denying the power of the mother, our responsibility, our needs, our contribution to society. We must take back postpartum, and we must demand a better start for our children. It’s time we affirm the mother.
Want to change the world? Support a new mother.
These are the symptoms that sleep deprivation and depression share. Mama (myself included) it is crucial you be gentle and forgiving with yourself as sleep deprivation is a very real part of motherhood.
Cafeteria Spiritual Parenting
aka Just Love that Baby
We live in a time where information is at our fingertips, and it’s possible we may be over-informed as parents. We are over intellectualizing motherhood. We’ve come to a time where we’ve distanced ourselves so far from the heart that the act of loving and guiding a child requires a so called “expert” voice.
We all look for advice in uncertain times, and of course it is helpful to seek guidance and share in community, but in our search we must hold close to the heart. A cynic by nature, I bring immense skepticism to any outside advice that does not sit with the ease of a comfortable blanket. In strict adherence to a philosophy there is an acceptance of a way foreign from not only our own knowing but also the uniqueness of our children, selves, and families.
Really, we can find information to support/defend many choices we make. In some ways, following a strict philosophy releases us from doing the work of finding our own inner wisdom; following strict methods may also release us from some of the personal guilt and responsibility when we’ve gotten it “wrong” because it was someone else’s (their) idea. Additionally, placing all trust in someone else’s advice allows us to limit the intimacy and personal connection that can be unconsciously intimidating with parenthood because we have blanket responses that block our real reactions and triggers; those knee jerk responses are there to be examined as part of the growth process that is motherhood. A lot of parenting experts suggest we should stuff our reactions and deliver “lines”. While lines may be effective parenting tools in some ways, we are not encouraging the parent to examine the source of the struggle which is a missed opportunity for authentic growth. “Why did that bother me? Why did I respond that way? What do I need to heal in order to see the purity of this child?” When the parent grows in the experience of parenting they come to a place of authentic clarity, and this is a beautiful state to approach a child: genuine and connected.
Be weary of a parenting philosophy that claims can diminish conflict by advising acting in a particular way. If the action does not arise from a place of authentic love, connectedness, and compassion there is a continuation of life in conflict for in this efforted “right action” righteousness does not exist. Through inner truth action arises in love. To act motherly, to act selflessly is living torture, but when action arises from authentic alignment with love there is great freedom, great joy. The process of getting to that place of love is personal growth and part of the richness of parenting. We deny parents this process therefore rob them of the full experience.
I cafeteria spiritual parent (CSP) which means I pick pieces of advice that feel appropriate for my family after I sit with and feel its alignment with my highest integrity. The challenge in CSP is not finding information; the challenge is doing the work in mining center (aka breathing and meditation for me, but you should “do you”) and being in alignment enough to be able to recognize when advice resonates with my highest frequency. Any outside guidance or parenting philosophy must resonates in harmony with my silent knowing, and it is my job to access the place of silent knowing.
How do I know when I’m getting it right? I feel it. How do I know when I’m getting it wrong? I feel it.
A woman with a blossomed heart holds the ability to make prime decisions, to distinguish between instinct and neuroses, and to follow the truth of her inner alignment. An awakened heart does not need rules. She may need guidance. She may need ideas. She may need help, but ultimately she needs to access her heart. In love, all else unfolds: compassion, connection, joy, and wisdom.
I’m not aiming to minimize motherhood. Quite the opposite, becoming a parent is a time of tremendous growth, and big transformations are never “easy”. The transformation into motherhood is everything: grueling relentless exhausting overwhelming important amazing joyful and miraculous, but it’s not meant to be of the mind. Motherhood is meant to bring us to the heart. We gather intelligence with our minds but we must act in wisdom of our hearts.
edited to ad:
I am inspired by my son’s preschool teachers, Mr. Rogers, Erickson’s theory, Reggio, Dr. Spock, my own mother, and my kids as a source of joy and growth.
Just the Messenger
Three times this week strangers have stopped me telling me how much they miss their kids being young. My first reaction: be present, and you won’t “miss” anything. My second: it’s hard when you are in it, but you miss it when it’s over. My third: be a student, and just listen to those who have already walked this path.
I rely on earth angels, messengers, to relay to me the right words at the right time. I hear the message loud and clear. Savor this. Savor this dense sweet moment.
With this message haunting, I miss them already. They are standing right in front of me, and the time is so fleeting it hurts. Just the thought of missing my babies in the future feels like too much to make eye contact with and brings me to hang on to the seconds sliding, swinging, running. If I trust the message that this will be missed, then I must look for what might be missed - the beauty and joy in the moment. The message asks me for my full presence. I oblige. I bring myself to the smallest moments, the cracks between the moments, and the those tiny passing ticks that when stretched together make up another passing year.
In a year that’s felt very “hard” today was a day where my babies were a source of awe, a delicacy to take delight in slowly and completely; for a day like today I thank my messengers with all of my being for pulling me back into presence, the fullness and joy of this precious time.
An underlying tension stagnated our apartment this morning. The tension was tangled in the regular duties of the day: diapers, spills, snacks, crumbs, breakfast, sharing, holding, explaining, understanding. We muscled through without ever hitting a groove. Nothing was overtly wrong, but words were short, and duties were rushed.
We started talking about going to the park at 11am, and we were dressed and headed for the three flights down by 3pm. Three hats, three coats, and six shoes affixed, baby in carrier, kid bike in one arm and helmet in the other as bohemian rhapsody played in the background for 4yo motivation. Top of the stairs. Stop. 4yo needed to potty.
Toilet flushed, and Mama Mia Galileo figaro, the water kept rising. I said, “don’t worry it will stop” as water rose straight up and over the top of the bowl. Inserting the plunger spilled another quart on to the floor. We all stood stiff and stared; baby on hip, plunger in hand, and 4yo in threshold. I threw down a few towels, and decided to think about cleaning that much later. “Carry on. Carry on. Nothing really matters.” The song switched to Thunderstruck AC DC and we marched down the stairs hysterically laughing and singing.
We made it to the park, happened upon a few neighborhood friends, and had a ball. The boys ran free and played exuberantly. I had a nice chat with the other parents and took notice that the tension had vanished. Sometimes it happens this way for me, the tension builds until a glass falls shattering on the floor, or a toilet overflows, or I knock my head/knee/toe – then the energy shifts. The invisible tension builds up and POP - gets released on the physical plane. The release gives the chance to a. notice the tension and b. clear the air and reset to a fresh page.
Today wasn’t a bad day, it was a tense morning with a pinnacle and a turning point. The physical plane matched the energetic field, and a release cleared the tension for us to make another go as we cannot help but be haunted by the background “is this the real
life, is this just fantasy?”