I spent several years at university studying the nuances of gendered narratives. I was convinced that the life paths of men and women should be the same, and that any gender differences were socially constructed.
And then I had a baby.
I grew another human inside me for over nine months. He became a part of me, physically, emotionally and psychologically. As intimate as I could be with anyone else, my son was the only one who was aware of all my chemical and hormonal reactions to life. He knew when I was stressed or anxious, even if I had a smile on my face. He knew when I found something genuinely, hysterically funny. He knew when I was uncomfortable around someone, and he knew those moments when I was blissfully contented. And this was all before I officially met him.
Being a mother has changed me. In fact, being a mother changes every woman.
We are entrusted with the care and love of these tiny people who take over our entire lives. We are the resident angels for our children on earth. We are always trying to help them feel safe and secure, while at the same time, encouraging them to flourish by finding independence and a free spirit. And we try to build a career on the side because we know they won’t need us so intensely forever. And we make sure they are warm. And that they don’t have food on their face. And that they have eaten enough. Or gone to the toilet enough. Or have learnt enough. And that’s just in one hour. I am in awe of my friends and family who balance purpose and mothering with such determination. So many conversations I have at the moment are with fiercely devoted mothers who want to be there for their children, but also want to make their own contributions out in the world. Raph was growing inside me when I was finishing my PhD, and he now sleeps in the next room when I am writing.
Being a conscious mother, most of the time, feels like just getting through the day, and showing up the next day for the same routine all over again. My Ode to Mothering blog talked about my deep love and respect for my mum, who raised five children. To this day, I still can’t fathom how she did it.
I recently came across this beautiful quote by Peggy O’Mara: “the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” This quote captures the indescribable beauty and the relentless pressure of mothering. I love my son in a way that I didn’t know before- it is the closest I have come to primal instinct.
Children are emotional sponges- it’s the cycle of life. We all absorb the energy and dreams of our parents, and then we spend the rest of our lives trying to make sense of them. So the lesson is: whatever we want for our children, we need to embody in our day-to-day lives. Children may pay attention to what we say to them, but ultimately they will reflect what we do and how we feel.
To be a conscious parent, the one question we need to ask is:
Am I modelling the kind of life I want my child to eventually live?
The best kind of parent loves their life, and sees their child as the perfect addition to it.
Happy Mother’s Day x