I’ve been discussing motherhood with my Guides over the last week or two. Driven by the recognition that I am now the mother of an adult not a child.
It’s a strange rite of passage for both of us. One that my mother and her mother and her mother went through in their time. How strange that I feel I have to include those who mother in all sorts of other ways. And fathers too. But I can only address this from my personal point of view. Years ago they handed me the child I had grown in my womb and left me to get on with it. Well I got on with it. There was no other option. Surprisingly I found myself receiving so many moments of pure joy. As well as becoming prey to a whole new set of fears and judgements. In me and from others. However I learned and accommodated all of these into my own style of mothering. Motherhood turned out to be something I felt I could be good enough at.
So long as I withstood my inner urge to tell myself I’d got it all wrong. As well as the social pressure to tell me it was all my responsibility. In effect my fault. For anything related to my child. As the years passed I settled into my stride growing more confident with being a mother. I encouraged my child to tell me about her life, feelings and thoughts. I sheltered and defended my child. It was also necessary to remind my child how beautiful and talented she was. Then things started to shift. It seemed to be my challenge to push my child out of our nest and into the wider world. Motherhood became about independence, free will and negotiation. Big themes for big changes.
I feel that’s when motherhood shifted into a new phase. I was having to step back from my role of carer. What would emerge as my relationship shifted to being alongside another adult?
Now I understand why my Mother (now in Spirit but guiding me) laughed and talked about payback. Because my soon to be teenager didn’t always agree with me. Or want what I wanted. Nor did she feel that rules were necessary. Like all of us at that stage she found ways to rebel. Perhaps not big outward rebellions. But quiet, stubborn positions to hold. She also started to have her own secrets. As well as her own judgements about my mothering of her. Her feelings disappeared behind a wall that I couldn’t climb. So I respected her privacy. I talked to myself about how I needed to change in response. I revisited motherhood as an idea. Calling for my Mum I asked for guidance. Finally I learned to tell myself ‘it’s just a phase’.
Eventually I got tot the point of knowing I had to connect with her as an adult not my child. That’s when this particular rite of passage began. Because she needed to tell me things about my mothering that she didn’t agree with. I remember thinking to myself as a teenager that if I became a mother there were things I definitely wouldn’t do. Things my Mum had done to me. Actions that I judged were harsh or cruel. Yet I did the same things to my daughter. Because I understood that those actions came out of love. It was important that I teach her boundaries, about how to live alongside others and how to care for herself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
I never told my Mum how much I appreciated those things I’d kicked against. I never shared my growing pains so she could explain and help me understand.
But I also wonder if she wasn’t ready to hear what I had to say either. An important part of seeing my child as an adult has been making room for her to tell me how she thinks I got motherhood wrong. Where she feels I’ve failed her. Letting her speak her blame. And yes, I could talk about the difficulty of balancing so much judgement and doubt within me. I could say I love you over and over. The temptation not to have that discussion is very strong. Perhaps there is a need in me to feel like a perfect mother in response to all of the years of responsibility and worry? Yet if I accept she is an adult I have to make room for her point of view. There has to be space for her to say she is angry with me, hates me, never wants to see me again. I have to bear both the love and rejection she may feel.
These are all her choices. And I can’t hold on to her as my child. I have to hold onto her as my adult daughter. With a life and concerns of her own. Hoping that she will have a good life. Being optimistic that she, in her turn, will understand when she becomes a mother. My Guides have helped me see that underneath everything there is always love. Pain is the response to love being conditional. However painful this transition I undertook to do it as part of being a mother. It’s the path I took with my mother. So I can embrace my love for my daughter knowing that any pain is momentary. Below it will always be love. It’s time to let her be an adult in her own right. And time for me to love the person she has become. Whether I agree with her thoughts, feelings and choices or not.
After all, if I have done some good things in her life she will be able to share her pain, criticisms and judgements of me with me. Not silently letting them eat away at her heart creating bitterness and distance. I love her and wish her well.
Day 572 of our blogging challenge