The Motherhood Journey
When it feels like you have tried everything to get pregnant, becoming a mother is akin to winning the grandest prize. And it is. But becoming a mother is not just an event that occurs when you have an embryo, are a confident pregnant woman or even hold your baby for the first time.
Motherhood is a journey that starts long before you ever get pregnant and becoming a mother continues to evolve over the following decades. Because each day brings a deeper understanding and greater clarity around your desires for yourself and your family. And these unfold over time.
When you are engaging your feminine wisdom, the mother you are today is even more empowered, satisfied and fulfilled than the version you were yesterday. It's evolution. (However, when you are trying to live up to the patriarchal (male) expectations of women and mothers, the motherhood journey becomes a story of struggle and overwhelm - as I discovered).
Today I wanted to share something personal with you about my experience of becoming a mother with the intention of serving you now on your own journey. I am somebody who requires a lot of time-out. If that has been true since I was very young, I didn't have conscious awareness of it - not for my first three decades anyway.
Although I recall locking myself in my bedroom regularly just to be alone, I didn't understand that this being (me) needs loads of quiet time. Alone. Even 20 years ago when I lived by myself, I used to venture off solo at weekends to stay in a caravan on the wild Atlantic Ocean - to get away from it all.
Motoring happily down to Mayo in the West of Ireland to enjoy my solitude, I was completely unperturbed by the weather. Watching my waving wipers labouring excitedly in anticipation against the rain pelting filled me with enormous joy. Because I always felt energised, much more clear and ever more aligned with my true self each time I took a retreat. In hindsight, I can see how I had organised my life so that these times of refuge became familiar punctuation marks.
Becoming A Mother...
Everything was fine until the physical arrival of my girls when things began to change - or rather the spotlight began to shine on habits of mine that were incompatible with thriving as a mother.
A few things contributed to this. I had twins for starters both of whom needed a huge amount of holding. (It was our intention to hold a lot anyway, but their needs took this to a new level.) They were about 3 years old before we could use a pushchair for example or anything that wasn't a pair of arms!
On top of that, I was a relative new-comer to Spain, didn't have the language and lacked a support system that could facilitate me taking a break.
But the biggest issue in truth, was the fact that I was still immersed in a patriarchal consciousness and trying my best to be a "good mother" according to that download.
This means - in the noble language of women in patriarchy - that I put my own needs last while trying to be all things to all people.
At the most basic level, this meant that my sleep was infinitely less important than either Julian's or the girls'. It wasn't a conscious decision not to get enough shut-eye, but it was only when others were taking 40 winks that I could recoil into my own silence. (For my current feminine version of my relationship with slumber, see my post on menopause and sleep).
That might have functioned in the short-term but the compound effect took an enormous toll so that by the time girls were 2 years, I was overwhelmed after becoming a mother and feeling very disconnected from my own feminine core. It wasn't pretty. And it felt much worse than it looked.
By not taking care of this fundamental human need, I came to understand how important it is for me, for my girls and for our family. Now that the kids have grown up (7 years as I write this) withdrawing continues to be a necessity. And I am happy to report now that retreat is something that I have built back into my day and my life again. But it took a long time for me to claim it fully.
The reason I'm sharing with you now here is because recently it has come up as a theme, people needing or wanting more from me than I'm really able to give. While in the patriarchal model I responded with a yes because along with the conditioning, it was my natural way to say yes to requests:
- To meet for coffee (tea in my case).
- To chat on Skype
- For my perspective and coaching
- To hang out, walk, dance, trek, etc.
- To host visitors
But that just had to change. Before I used to say yes to these, because they all seem so gorgeous and are. Now I'm responding with "Thank you but I am a little odd and that is too much for me".
Even when my parents visit now (they stay in a hotel by the way), we don't go out to dinner as a whole family because I stay at home! They will dine out with the girls and Julian, but I no longer engage in these 'normal' family events. A bit strange at first perhaps, but now they are accustomed to it and having a gorgeous time in my absence!
Not everyone approves however and that became apparent when a different member of my patriarchal family (blood family) visited the region. Prior to the holiday, I had explained to this person (in depth) that I was not able to deal with visitors - it was too much for me to process. All was well I thought.
But that honest discussion had fallen on deaf ears because when I replied to an invitation to meet up - saying that I wasn't able for that - I didn't receive a response. My behaviour was not acceptable it seems. From this person's perspective, I belong to the 'family' and meeting the needs of the 'family' outweighed my own by far. I was just being rude and totally selfish. (If you are wondering about whether a current relationship is supporting you or not, these articles will help "Is she really my friend?" and "Let go of a relationship".)
Breaking Patriarchal Rules
One of the ways that patriarchy ensures that women and mothers don't experience their empowerment is by convincing us that we are responsible for other people's feelings. In the past, I would not have dreamed of being unable to meet up with this person because that might have hurt feelings.
It didn't matter at all that it would have hurt me. A lot. Or that my kids would suffer not only with an overwhelmed mother but also by me modeling that we cannot be true to ourselves as women. Becoming a mother has forced me to be evolve beyond this download because I want more for them.
Now, I'm first listening to my feminine wisdom first and tuning into what is authentic for me - what is authentic for Deirdre in this moment.
After becoming a mother, I learned that if I want to show up as the woman I came her to be and also be the mom that I choose to be, then I'm not able to have this extra stimulation in my life. I am not able for these additional connections that, for me, are just too much to process right now.
I hope there was value in this for you and would love to hear your opinion and experience around becoming a mother and the themes I explore above. Please comment below as your feminine contribution here really, really matters!