Parenting as passionate agents of change...
Mothering, and being Mothered is an operatic, epic experience, that creates ripples that shape our lives. Both individually and as a society.
The most important job in the world. The hardest. The most rewarding. Definitely the most amazing experience of my life, from which I have been eternally changed. This Mothering gig demands sweeping statements of epic proportions, and it is all true. The reverberating ripples throughout my life of being Mothered, of each experience of pregnancy, birth, the ongoing unfolding of Mothering, is what has shaped, is shaping me, as an individual and as a member of society. That’s epic.
This ancient yet always new, operatic masterpiece of Motherhood plays out so eloquently. So much perfection and beauty amongst the chaos… My body became home for another Being for 9 months, and for the subsequent lifetime, my arms, face, voice and presence represents home. I literally, then metaphorically became home to my children.
The kind of home I offer my babies in their early life will become what they seek and be most comfortable with in life. Consciously or otherwise. How I relate to the world, how it relates to me, my perceptions of others and of environments – my embryonic babies experienced all that right along with me. Activations of the autonomic nervous system, any rise in heartbeat, shortening or deepening of breath, the release of adrenalin through stress or oxytocin ‘the hormone of pleasure’ whilst lovemaking or feeling safe and supported – it all adds up to ‘this is what life is like’ for an unborn child. Limbic Imprinting begins at conception.
Our birth experiences were pivotal, as was their postnatal welcome. In psychological terms, this phase of life is called the primal period. Babies need to be held close and warm, in an environment that is soft and safe. Calm, quiet, stillness allows new babes and the immediate family to bond and absorb each other.
Fortunately, the stage of life my partner and I were in meant we were somewhat prepared to face massive changes. More so, I was supported to spend lots of time in loving union with my little ones, breastfeeding, sleeping, eye gazing. This was one of the greatest blessings of my life to date.
As my children grow, they learn about the world and their place in it. They non-cognitively absorb reams of information about their family, their home, themselves. A process of familiarisation takes place as they learn language and customs. Being human, I along with most parents and caregivers have conflicting needs at times, I make mistakes and the babies/children inevitably have had moments of feeling abandonment, fear, hunger, pain, stress. We have mis-attunements, and moments that require repair. It’s part of the same familiarisation process, preparing them for life in the larger human family.
Their limbic imprint is being continuously established as predominant environments, experiences and states of being are reinforcing the developing neurological pathways of perception and expression. Genes are switched on or off according to need or use – epigenetics in action.
As a modern Mother of the 21st Century, primary Carer to my gorgeous Babes, I have undergone cataclysmic changes from what my life was like before. Stress, anxiety, overwhelm, relationship dissatisfaction and a loss of sense of self are all common experiences for me and most new parents in the early 2000’s. We have not yet caught up and developed the super human abilities it would take to do and be all that is required of us. The ‘bar’ of parenting greatness is continuously raised, the busy-ness of our lives increases, and the very composition of our society is changing rapidly. It’s very challenging – and I am one of the fortunate Mama’s, living in relative affluence, in a home of my own, partnered and amongst a community of like minded people. So why the challenge?
These days the common barometer of satisfaction and success, as we reflect on our parenting choices, is no longer just our own experiences as children or comparisons with our own upbringing and peers. Post internet, the incredible amount of exposure we have to new ideas and information increases our understanding, but also undermines satisfaction whilst decreasing self worth. Todays Mothers are “more attentive, compassionate, involved, patient, knowledgeable and educated than any other group of mothers since the beginning of time — but suffer from so much self-doubt, inadequacy and overwhelm that we barely even benefit from our position of relative privilege. Though most are striving, hardly any of us are actually arriving at a level of self-assuredness and satisfaction proportionate to our dedication and investment.” from ‘Motherwhelmed’ by Beth Berry.
The tug of all kinds of accomplishment, both within and outside the home, are strong. Harmful modern myths abound, including perfect parenting as opposed to individualised parenting, the questionable meaning and myriad manifestations of empowerment, more being better, independence meaning freedom but really bringing isolation (especially to Mothers rearing children so far from extended families, a common aspect of modern life) – there are so many cultural complexities for us to navigate nowadays as Parents.
The ‘home frequency’ we offer our babies, what we bring to their nervous systems through where we dwell in our own, both in pregnancy and early childhood, influences them throughout life, through the mechanism of limbic imprinting. If our own limbic imprint is holding us back from being the parent we wish to be, we can apply conscious intention and attention, and benefit from healing modalities designed to address core beliefs. To make lasting change in our own imprints/modus operandi, we must go to the cause, to our own beginnings, the place where painful patterns were put into place in our childhoods. In grieving the cause, examining the beliefs, we can open up new perspectives, new behaviours, new levels of generosity and love that were impossible before. We can become the parents we wish we had, become generational change agents!
As individuals and as a collective we need to be mindful that the rapidly changing world isn’t putting too much pressure on Mothers, we who are the most influential factor of our emerging society. The mental health of Mothers is fragile and important. The capacity of a Mother to give and receive love, to be generous in spirit and model goodwill for others, to live the deeper truth of interconnection, of interbeing – informs the creation of each new Being that joins us here on Earth.
*As appeared in Nurture magazine, Issue 20.