Milestones of Motherhood ~ Identity as Metamorphosis
Just now I’m working on the Identity chapter of Milestones of Motherhood. Identity is such a huge issue, and so much of our growth and transformation through motherhood is tied up in how we see ourselves.
In the beginning for many of us we feel a sense of excitement, but also a sense of loss of the way things were previously, as we know, once we become mothers, things can never really go back to how they were before, but as our mothering experiences are few, we have little experience upon which to build our new identities.
When we are sttuggling, in the early days, but also at times of intensity, of change or of difficulty, it can feel as though we almost lose ourselves to mothering. We are all but consumed by the needs of others, by emotions, by exhaustion.
Yet from being lost, from coming close to touching the bottom, we really do discvoer more of our own depth. Also we are granted the wisdom that, if we wish to continue mothering, we must take care of ourselves also, so we begin a journey of rediscovering, and nurturing ourselves along with our families.
I’ve likened the process of our transformation as mothers to that of the butterfly; remarkably, once the caterpillar has shed its skin many times and is within the cocoon, it releases an enzyme which completely digests itself; what remains is a nutrient rich liquid from which the butterfly will emerge. Yet within this liquid are imaginal cells, cellular images of the component parts of the as yet formless butterfly. The caterpillar has held, latent within itself, these cells since its creation. It is the biological intelligence within these cells which, when nourished with the enzymes of the dissolved caterpillar, become the blueprint informing the grow and formation of the butterfly!
How amazing is that!
Yet I see such a process within us as mothers too, for in our hearts, in our minds, we too hold these imaginal cells, our visions, our hopes, of how we would like to mother our children, and it is through the intensity of the experiences, through the losses of our former selves, that feeling that we are almost dissolved by the intensity of it all, that we truly begin to touch with the greatness which lies within all of us, a greatness, strength and deep wisdom which is brought to life and maintained by the unconditional love we feel for our children.
And once we come to see this within ourselves, to stretch our wings, to see how consistent, loving mothering enables our children to thrive, so too do we deepen into our mothering identity. We literally grow into ourselves, we deepen in understanding both of ourselves and of the world, we learn, we evolve, we change and transform. We come to truly recognise and value mothering, and from such place of deep value, we become stronger, and like the butterflies, more magnificent in our identities as mothers.
No longer holding our heads low and mubling something about being just a mum whilst the kids are small, but rather standing tall, spreading our wings and living with pride and confidence for we know the true worth and value of consistent, responsive and loving mothering, both for our children and for the wider world.