Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Regardless of our gender, our age, or our ability to take care of ourselves, we all need mother. Mother is a deep, archetypal force in our collective consciousness that begins in childhood with our birth mother’s role in fulfilling our need for unconditional acceptance, love and safety. As we mature and find our own way in the world, in order to be our best selves we must grow in our ability to mother ourselves.
I pass a small farm on my way to work in the morning, and lately I’ve been enjoying watching the young calves standing near their moms, sometimes feeding but mostly just standing close-by. They seem to be trying to maintain just a bit of physical contact. We know that human infants are healthier and less anxious with regular, close physical contact, and I’m sure it’s true with many other species as well.
We accept that mother is important for the young, but what about as we grow older? It’s not common for adults to be aware of or express a need for mother, but I believe it’s always there. Our mothers may no longer be present in our lives, or we may not look to them to provide the love and acceptance that we seek, but we need it nonetheless.
I’m finding that my adult self experiences a need for mothering in many different ways. Sometimes it’s that feeling of being alone or lonely in the middle of my busy, people-filled day. Other times I’ve come to recognize it when I’m frustrated or disappointed with someone who isn’t acting in accordance with how I think the world should operate. When I’m too focused on taking care of business and not enough on myself, and I start feeling resentful or overwhelmed, it’s a sure sign that I need mothering.
The first step in mothering ourselves is asking “What do I need?” Just stopping to ask the question is an act of mothering, because that’s what “mother energy" does; it seeks to nurture and protect. In the middle of the busiest day there is always something that I can do to take care of myself, even if it is only to stop and take three deep breaths, or smile and say thank you to the divine wisdom that breathes in me.
We may be grown-ups, but the child we were lives in us and contributes her perspective to all of our experience. We may be better able to reason through things and navigate the world effectively, but the dear child within never stops seeking mother.
Ask yourself often what you need, and do your best to listen carefully and nurture that need. You may be needing more quiet time for reflection and introspection, or you may need more fun. Whatever it is, engage it fully. Get on the floor with crayons and paper. Roughhouse with the dog. Lie on your back in the grass and watch the clouds float by. Sing to yourself, and for yourself. Brush your hair. Take time to watch the geese as they fly honking overhead. Make faces at your dinner partner and giggle, or better yet, show up with some big, wax lips. Stop and let yourself do absolutely nothing for five minutes, and see how delicious it is. Set a timer if you have to. The possibilities are endless.
May you always mother the child within you, and may this tool be a blessing. . .
(Dedicated to my daughter, Mara, with love)