When I was pregnant with my first child Jenny, I was given a book called Mother’s Day is Over by Shirley Rogers Radl. This book became the one source I could turn to and count on. It mirrored the reality I was about to live. It was the only book I read that didn’t sugarcoat motherhood. It was the one source that helped me authentically prepare for the good, bad and ugly of motherhood. I believe the truth of this book on one level was shocking, but it also made me feel connected to other mothers-to-be like me. The ones I perceived were afraid, confused, and wanting the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We didn’t want the fantasy that many of the other books shared. These books often left me feeling inadequate. They said I was going to have a wonderful and joyous experience as a mother. Really?
I was feeling devastated, scared, panicked, imprisoned and so alone. While I loved being pregnant, carrying life, birthing, what came after scared me to death. I have since learned one of the most important credos a woman carrying a child and a mother can follow: mother the mother within. This mothering begins by being honest with your self, by getting to know yourself, and by developing skills to mother. I believe if you don’t know what you’re mothering you can’t nurture it. I had to learn to mother myself to become a good mother. I had to learn to love who I was by forgiving myself, by being patient, and by teaching myself to grow up to be a good mother. Healer, heal thyself. Mother, mother thyself!
In January of 1993 I began to rewrite some pregnancy material I had written a few years earlier. I used this information as educational material for pregnant women in my movement classes. During the process of rewriting I began to get messages from my inner voices telling me I should write about mothering and motherhood, and about my experiences with abortions, births and relationships, and to what I regard as daily deaths. It seemed odd to me to be writing about motherhood. My girls were grown up. Jennifer was twenty-two, living in Japan and Jessica, twenty, lived on her own in Portland, working and finishing her GED. It was a time in my life when motherhood was the last thing on my mind.
In March of that year, I became very ill with pneumonia and was in bed for several weeks. Over my nine-week period of healing, I thought a lot about my work, my relationship, dancing, writing, and painting – all aspects of my life. The voices inside my head didn’t stop. Over and over again, messages came, pushing me to write about motherhood. Besides the voices in my head it became clear to me in my dreams and meditations that my personal life and relationship with husband number two was over. My voices continued to tell me, “Debbie, your philosophy and approach to life will be of great value to mothers”. Value? I’m getting divorced for the second time. What do I have to offer?
I thought about it for days and decided being a woman and a mother, and a leader who teaches people how to get in the body and be healthy might be enough. I could integrate my knowledge of the body, the universe, Chi, energy and the communication I know exists between the mind, body, emotions and spirit. It worked for me, so maybe it could work for others, for mothers looking for answers.
I began to explore my dreams and visions of motherhood and childbirth as it could have been for me, and as it could be for all women. Along the way I was taken on a journey where I developed new ways of thinking about abortion, motherhood, birth and death. I now have a new reality, a new paradigm for mothering and birth, and a new archetype of motherhood. I didn’t come to this knowledge and place overnight. It happened slowly as I allowed what I believed to be true and real to slowly unfold within and through me. I took the time to assimilate my feelings and thoughts, arriving to the motherhood truth I could stand for and confidently share.
While there were other logical, emotionally rewarding and personal healing reasons for me to write about motherhood one thing was clear: the inner voice inside me, in you, in us all is something to listen to. I trust in my inner voice. It has guided me on an extraordinary journey of learning to mother my mother within, and to mother my children.
The process of writing, of recounting so many memories has allowed me to relive the joys, laughter, fears and also some very deep painful experiences as a mother. These memories gave rise to the past and illuminated many details of my experiences, that now looking back, if I had the right guidance, some other tools, another model, maybe I could have changed their outcome. I think so.
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