Six Things I Know About Motherhood

Apr 24, 2018

 

After ten years of supporting women to birth and mother their babies, and six years of doing so myself, here are the things I know:

 

–>  Motherhood is a rite of passage; a modern-day Heroine’s Journey.  It’s so much more than learning new skills (like diapering or breastfeeding) or changing your behaviours (learning to let go of expectations and surrender to what’s happening) – it’s an actual change to who you are.  Also, anyone who has heard me talk or read my writing about motherhood knows I’m fond of reminding women that the transition to motherhood takes two to three years.  Yet we have little reverence in our culture for this process; we effort our way back into some semblance of “normal” all too soon after birth, or admonish ourselves for not achieving that.  We talk about the “new normal,” but we fail to support women in the fulsomeness of what that actually means. 

If you’re feeling like you’re still trying to figure this out,

some days Winning at Motherhood and some days flailing about haplessly

and like you’d like to know when this part will be over,

I see you.

 

–>  Because motherhood is a rite of passage and it changes who you are, you are also very likely to experience other disenchantments during your first handful of postpartum years.  Your job may lose its appeal, your relationship may feel different, your circle of friends may shift, or your feelings about your body may change.  Your values – what matters most to you – have likely shifted or are being challenged in a new way thanks to the arrival of an unpredictable, needy, and complex little being into your world.  It’s enough to make even the most self-assured woman feel unmoored.

If you’re feeling adrift,

like your days are filled with the all-consuming work of nurturing, tending and bodily functions

leaving you with big questions you can’t see the answers to,

I see you.

 

–>  Some women birth babies and never fully transition to Motherhood.  They try to forge ahead without acknowledging what was lost; they lack a metric for the ways in which becoming a mother requires a grieving process, and a releasing of the woman they once were.  They feel shamed by a culture that cannot hold space for the full spectrum of emotions that motherhood entails, and they remain in hiding, secretly railing against a life that doesn’t feel like their own.  It is not their fault, but a byproduct of a world that does not value the role of Mother.  The actual role – the messy, real, crucial reality of tending to the human species, not the Hallmark one.

If you want to cry, or release a primal scream,

and the smile of your happy healthy baby causes your voice to catch in your throat

(because “happy and healthy are all you should want”)

I see you.

 

–>  Pedicures are bullshit when you can’t pee by yourself.  The schema of self-care that has worked for you until now will no longer work.  As you learn how to meet the needs of your wee babe, you must also learn to see yourself – your fragile, new-out-of-the-crysalis motherself – as a human being with needs also.  Water yourself like you would a plant, work yourself like you would unturned earth, nourish yourself like you do your baby, and please, oh please, try to just pee when you need to.

If you feel like you’ve abandoned yourself

and you never have enough time or energy,

I see you.

 

–>  Motherhood opens you to a realm of Gifts – aside from the rewards of raising cute humans – that, given some nurturing, may become your new superpowers.  Mothering is a viscerally physical, intuitive, primal experience, and in doing this vital work, you may feel glimpses of a different connection to your physical body and your intuition than you’ve ever felt before.  Welcome.  Welcome to the fullness of what it means to embody Motherhood.

If you’re feeling wilder

fiercer,

more open to the unknown

than before,

I see you.

 

–>  Mothering requires community.  We cannot do this alone; this is deeper and harder and more complex and more life-giving and nuanced and joyful and unknown than anything we ever encounter as humans.

If you’re seeking a cadre of other mothers who can hold you,

who get you, and this,

I see you.

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes

 

Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging

 

Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!