When my daughter was a baby I was in overdrive. I worked outside the home, in a job that required 50 hours of time on a slow week and up to 70 hours of my time during crunch weeks. While I was being Super Career Woman, I was also determined that I would be Super Mom too. The problem was, I didn’t quite understand what being Super Mom truly meant.
For the first couple years of my daughter’s life, being Super Mom equated to what I now consider incredibly superficial and ultimately irrelevant things. Things that in the big picture absolutely don’t matter. Things that my daughter won’t remember or know unless I tell her. Things like being determined to cloth diaper, making *all* of her baby food from scratch, only allowing organic foods to enter her body and dear gosh there would never be sugar anywhere near her. No TV either. And all her toys would be wooden and there wouldn’t be a commercial character anywhere in sight. And of course all her clothes would be made of organic cotton or bamboo.
I laugh now at how much I just did.not.get.it. How I put such emphasis on these things that have nothing to do with our relationship or connection. I overwhelmed myself doing all the “right” things, when perhaps allowing myself to be human and having faith that my child would survive to see her next birthday, even if she did play with a plastic Disney Princess tea set. I focused on the outside things, not the inside things. I lost myself a bit, thinking that if I controlled all these outside things *that* would mean I was good mama. And dear god, I so desperately wanted to be a good mama.
Fast forward to today. This morning my daughter ate Oreos for breakfast (hey, she had organic milk with them, so it’s okay). She was outside in her pool before 10am and before the temperature had reached 65F. I did manage to get some apples and sunflower seed butter in her before she snacked on a cupcake. Lunch consisted of chili cheese fritos, a hamburger patty, three green beans and then some more cookies and milk. Yep, I’m going for that Mother of Year award, Nutrition division.
I played Barbies with her today. We did some painting together. We snuggled and watched a couple of TV shows. We cleaned our living room, dining room and kitchen today, without tears or screaming. I gave her lots of hugs and asked her for help and mentioned how she always makes the shoe rack look extra awesome when she organizes it.
We had a great day.
I finally have it (mostly) right. It’s not the outside stuff, like whether every meal is fully nutritionally balanced or whether she has branded character toys, it’s the inside stuff – the fact that we played together, that we created together, that we worked as a team cleaning our home – that matters.
It was quite a process of letting go and realizing what truly matters and what doesn’t. I was guided by not only my own instinct, but also by great mama writers and bloggers. Women who have been there and done that. Women like those in the Mindful Parenting eBundle (note this is an affiliate link – I appreciate your support). Parents and organizations who know what is important for us to focus on our relationship and connection to our children and all the rest is truly small stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter.
I’ve spent the last few days consumed by tears. Tears of frustration. Tears of disappointment.
Tears of grief.
Grieving a plan that refuses to come into fruition.
Grieving a dream of what my life would be like.
The Warrior in me rages against this grief. Fight! she screams. We have a battle plan, she insists.
I’m tired from the seemingly endless battles in this war against What Is. In these battles I have raged and fought against Truth and Reality for so many years now. I don’t have much fight left in me. I want peace. I want to Be.
To Be, I will need to walk away from this War, stop engaging in the battles. It’s time to release these thoughtfully constructed plans, these dreams, these expectations of what my life “should” look like and time to surrender wholly to what is. It is time to release what isn’t and allow what Is to be my Dream.
This release, this surrender will not come easily. I have held onto these plans, this dream, this vision of my life, for most of my adult years. This fight has consumed me and has prevented me from enjoying and being whole in what Is.
Many prayers will still be sent. I feel them in my heart, in my Soul, in my womb. I know the bargaining with the Universe is not quite over. This release, this surrender will be slow and at times over-whelming. I feel the Fight still strong within me. And yet, it is time. My longing for peace is becoming stronger than my longing for completed plans, accomplished dreams, plans and dreams that are clearly not meant to be.
Time to release the anger. Time to release the frustration. Time to release the blame.
Time to release the plans, the dream.
Time to Surrender to what Is.
Time to know in my bones, that this beautiful life of mine, that I have right now, is enough. In this beautiful life of mine, right now, I can be whole and happy.
I love this beautiful life of mine. As it is. Right now.
To my ancestral mamas,
I forgive you.
I forgive you for being human. I forgive you for clinging to your own hurt, terrified and lonely little girls inside your souls. I forgive you for not being able to pass on the love, the acceptance, the connection, the beauty that you wanted for your daughters, for yourselves.
I forgive you all for thinking you were terrible mothers. I forgive you all for being terrible mothers at times. I forgive you the hurt, the pain, the loneliness that you all passed down, generation after generation, all the way to me.
I send you love. I release the heavy burden you passed down to your daughters because you didn’t know what else to do with it. I’m setting it down for us all.
I send you freedom. All of you I carry not only in my DNA, in my blood, I carry you in soul. As I repair and grow and transform and heal, you do too.
I give to us all a beautiful relationship with my daughter. The pain, the fear, the loneliness no longer serve us. It is time to connect, to bask in the joy and beauty of motherhood, to release the fear of fucking it all up.
I soak in your strength. I bask in your love. Together, we will start to enjoy today, to enjoy our beautiful children, one moment at a time.
Community is such a large concept. Often we hear people talk about the lack of community; the lack of communal support he or she feels. Looking at society I can see this lack of support as families have pared down to the “nuclear family,” losing the beauty of multiple generations and extended family under one roof or at least within close proximity. Neighbors no longer knowing each other’s names. There is a great tragic loss in this lack of community. Honestly I see this loss of community as a trauma in itself – isolating us more and more, having us burrow further into our own pain and not being able to look out at others and notice theirs. Not being able to reach out for support, love and healing.
Peter Levine writes about how healing trauma must always happen in community, with at least one other person present to bear witness to the traumatized person. The reasoning for this is simple: trauma happens when we are alone. This is not to say there are not other people physically present, or there is not another person or persons actually creating the trauma event in our presence. It is to say that we are alone – the only witness to ourselves in the trauma. Our bodies absorb the trauma and we tend to isolate after – either by choice as a survival mechanism or because we are manipulated to by an abuser. Trauma equals isolation. In order to come out of the trauma, to come out of the isolation we need a safe community.
This community can be one person. It could be a hundred people. It could be a therapist or counselor. It could be a spouse or partner or close friend or other family member. It could be a teacher, a mentor. It could be a stranger. It could be anyone. However that other person or persons, the one who is to bear witness to our trauma, needs to be firmly grounded or else he or she will do us no good. James Finely describes bearing witness to a traumatized person as keeping one foot firmly grounded outside the circle the trauma, and the other foot firmly yet gently steps inside the circle. The traumatized person needs the other to be grounded, this is possibly the only way the traumatized person can find her or his own grounding, perhaps the only way he or she can get back into her or his own body. The traumatized person also needs to feel the other person within her or his trauma, to feel truly heard and seen and understood.
We need community. However we need that community to be grounded. Knowing the extent of trauma in our world, finding these people who are firmly grounded can be a challenging task. So what do we do?
We seek. We look for those who have gifts to offer to help us in our own grounding process. To help us get back into our own body. To help us heal. Then we pass these gifts on. The beauty of these gifts, of learning how to become mindful, how to ground and stabilize our body, mind and soul, is that we can pass the gifts on AND keep them forever. It is the non-dual beauty of healing – realizing life isn’t about either or, rather it is about and. It is raining and cold and I can be warm and cozy. It is dark and I can see light. I can be angry at you and love you with all my soul.
We can heal ourselves and heal within community. As we shift, as the trauma releases from our body we will be able to see more and more community available. In the beginning though we have to be vulnerable and risk further hurt. Not further trauma, but potential pain. And in being vulnerable and open, we can see the pain in others and perhaps give them some community to heal.
Bearing witness to our own pain. Becoming and remaining grounded. Healing ourselves. Being healed by our community. Healing our community. Finding strength and grounding. Offering strength and grounding. Offering and receiving in the same breath.
I’m thankful for my ever-expanding community. Many of the people in my community are strangers. Strangers who probably don’t know how much they have impacted me, how much their existence has helped me heal. Others are close friends, my husband, my daughter. And a wide range of friendships and acquaintances in-between. Each person giving light to my darkness, whether he or she knows it or not. And hopefully, prayerfully, I give a little light to their darkness too.
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