I was thinking about how we expect Motherhood to look and to be for us personally when we are preparing for our baby, and even during our Motherhood experience. I was thinking about how it is portrayed on social media and how there are so many different ways of parenting that get revealed to us on our path.
I realised that Motherhood is indeed a path. I go further to say it is a deeply spiritual path. I have started contemplating Motherhood as an initiation.
When a baby is born – Motherhood during postpartum certainly takes on a rite of passage – as we are reborn into a new Mother body ourselves. There are so many dramatic physical and hormonal changes that take place.
It can be hard to ignore that something very big has taken place. However there are many other things that also occur which are not so seen nor mentioned.
WHAT IS AN INITIATION?
An initiation is a time when you specifically release, let go, and largely deconstruct much of the former clad or presentation of your identity. There is a mood of surrender to something Higher or Divine.
It involves a sense of spiritual evolution, maturation and connection to something Divine or Universal. It is something that makes you a stronger and integrated person. When engaged with in a healthy way initiation becomes something that builds you as a person and brings you in a better alignment with your Truth and Soul purpose.
What does initiation look like? It looks like the unfolding. It is uncomfortable. It is about letting go of preconceived ideas, pre-lived in identities. It is about the unfolding of the butterfly and the greatest surrender to our Highest Self, our Highest Good and Divine Mother.
It takes an enormous amount of faith to believe in ourselves so strongly.
We were not taught to.
Yet we so deeply want our children to.
The best way is to show them how.
That is how I see initiation.
There are other times in a woman’s life that hold this potential and are also an initiation.
For example during the time of menarche. When a girl gets her first period. This is a time of profound imprinting of what her experience is, what is happening around her, her relationships with her mother, her community, her friends. When this is not honoured as such we feel bereft, we even shame or feel guilty about our blossoming femininity and we try to hide it.
Most menstrual product adverts sell their products based on how much it can hide that you are menstruating and you can continue being productive and social during this time. We are being taught to not listen to our body and we minimise this important time for a woman.
If this time is honoured with ceremony, with sisterhood sharing and sacred information about what it means to gain your fertility and how this changes your life – we feel whole, held and our relationship with our own body and femininity blooms.
In many traditions it is around this time that ceremony and “becoming a woman” rituals happen. I myself, had a batmitzvah when I was 13 years old. We learnt the traditions every week with the elders. I wrote and delivered a personal commentary on the biblical reading from the Torah and we had a ceremony to honour my evolution – and the responsibility that comes with it.
When we leave home there is also a type of initiation that occurs. Maybe not with ceremony or outward expression but certainly within. When I left home at 18 years old there was some profound realisations and an initiation to independence from my mother.
When we become a Mother we meet our initiation repeatedly. It is not like ok – we have birthed the baby and now we have crossed over.
INITIATIONS IN MOTHERHOOD
We are constantly meeting and re-meeting parts of ourselves that have come into our awareness and our consciousness and are now ready to release. We meet them in different ways through our children as we get triggered and our wounded patterns emerge.
Parenting gives us a chance to reflect on them and release old habits of defense or behaviours that we have carried within to defend us from feeling hurt, rejected, abandoned, shamed and unworthy.
How can we sit quietly and comfort a crying baby when we have not been afforded this ourselves?
With all our heart we want to shield our baby from these same emotions we may have experienced in our own lives.
When we are soothing our babies to sleep we are recoding designs from generations that adhered to “sleep training”, night nurses, crying to sleep, absent parenting or even not feeling safe in our bedrooms.
When we are sitting and reflecting and hearing our children and giving them time and connection – we are facing and healing our own wounds from not being heard as a child, yearning for connection and not getting it.
Let’s face it – much of the older generation or even conventional parenting advice comes down to making children less of an hindrance so we can get on with our adult life.
It is based on forcing control and authority instead of considering what a child’s needs are in terms of emotional milestones.
If we examine the emotional needs of a newborn we will realise that connection and closeness, is essential. Because it is at this time a person is developing the emotional need of feeling accepted. Belonging.
Simply feeling and absorbing the right to be in this world.
How many of us struggle with this emotional need of simply feeling valued enough to be in this life without having to prove our worth and validate our existence?
We use affirmations of “I am Worthy”.
When you are parenting a baby who is crying or fussing at all times and you deeply want to meet his need – you meet your wound right there.
This is where parenting becomes an initiation. Every time. Every moment we meet this vulnerable point. What is our reflex? What is our patterning? What are we going to do to ignore, numb, override or deflect this challenge of looking at ourselves in our eyes and saying and believing, “I am worthy”. I have a right to be just like anyone else.
We may stuff something into our mouth. We may overeat or comfort eat. Or drink. Or take pills. Or get very busy with our work so we feel so needed. Or over extend to others. Or collapse with pain into bed. Or we may over exercise. Or become fanatical about religious practices because who is more important than God?
Or we may simply say over in our head – “Who am I to ask for help? I must do this all alone. No one cares about me or is here to help me.” and we martyr on, with a sense of false humility because we do not feel worthy enough to claim help when we need it or reach out.
THE INNER WORK
When we can become very present with what we are feeling and start to identify the self talk, the inner critic, the actions that come after the feelings, we realise we can start to reprogram this patterning.
There is a schism right there. When it becomes too painful – we can walk over the threshold and claim it.
This is an example of how parenting is a spiritual journey and is a constant initiation. Where we are invited to release the emotional responses, the inner patterning and identifications that are not true and do not work for us.
It takes a great love to do this for us.
It is a very hard thing to do.
It is why our children and our family are the greatest way for us to give up something so hard, embrace such difficult feelings and reclaim them and ourselves so we can reflect and hold the love we wish to deliver to our children.
In fact we are not parenting our children we have been graced with an opportunity to re-parent ourselves. So we can come back to the sacred container of pure Love, being held, without condition and flourish from this inner knowing.
When we feel triggered, frustrated, rejected – we have only ourselves to come back to – to hold ourselves, contain ourselves, give ourselves the depth of tender care and connection like a Mother gives her own child.
We feel triggered so easily as our children grow up too. We feel they are like extensions of ourselves out there in the world. If they make a mistake, or are rude, or don’t do the best at school we feel that it is somehow our ego too that is wrong and will not be accepted. But they are here to learn and moreover they are free spirits.
Our children have their own karma, their own passions and interests and their own personalities.
It is by engaging with the inner work, the initiation work of Motherhood that we can
celebrate our own inner child
work through our own Mother wounds
dislodge the ancestral generational conditioning
be the change we want to see.
HOW CAN WE DO THIS?
Start by observing.
Observing your patterns of behaviour, responses and what is going through your mind (self-talk).
Create a way to look at your own observations – like journaling, art, poetry, speaking to someone.
Become very clear about how you do want to feel, respond and behave in different situations.
Write about this, create art, dance. Do what you can to FEEL into that mood. Think back to an experience when you did feel like this.
HOW CAN WE DO THIS DURING POSTPARTUM?
Allow a mothers basic needs of postpartum to be met. These are warmth, nourishment, rest and support. Validate and support her own intuition.
Have a motherroasting ceremony with warmth, herbals and mantras to hold space and celebrate her new becoming.