Recently I had the pleasure of a four week excursion into Motherhood via Annapurna Living’s offering. Co-helmed by Carrie-Anne Moss and Natalie Christensen, MOTHER was a gentle and affirming journey throughout.
Motherhood is an adventure. In many ways, when we bear children, we either want to right the wrongs of our own experiences or we perpetuate them unknowingly (or perhaps it is a little of both).
I would have especially loved this course when my son was little and I was the juggler of many, many balls and felt very much alone in the process.
Young children take it out of you. They rely on you for everything and you must continue to do everything else that you did prior in addition to being the rock at the centre of their world. If you yourself have no rock at the centre of yours, you soon become depleted. I know this far too intimately.
I spent a lot of time and energy searching for that rock.
I looked for it outside of myself in relationships (with my husband, with friends and neighbours and colleagues) and through spirituality.
Let me add that I had been seeking religion for many years, looking to become an adherent to something that would resonate true, that I could share with my family. I was continually disappointed and disillusioned throughout this process.
My ex-husband was not interested in any institutionalized religion (nor spirituality, for that matter), and while I had strived to find one that we could participate in as a family, I found that in the end all I had been successful in cultivating was quiet annoyance at best, indifference at worst.
My own interest in what was dismissed as “woo-woo” essentially distanced my son’s interest in even the more commonplace spirituality that many enjoy as a central tenet.
So as I continued the journey on my own, one I had been on since childhood, really, I tried to regiment the rest of my life into submission.
(That failed miserably.)
I had assumed that simply handing out tasks would guarantee their completion. I had assumed that I was at the helm of a ship and by proxy was its captain, completely discounting the fact that there was another person whose buy-in I had to seek, through discussion and agreement (something we continually faltered at).
I had been on the managerial track within a large multinational corporation, aiming to go from an administrative position into lower management.
I wasn’t sure where that would take me, exactly, but I knew I wanted to do something different and that was what I envisioned as being the next step.
I had done all the work.
I had become expert certified in all the software packages we used.
I had started on Six Sigma training.
I had attended the Franklin-Covey “What Matters Most” and “7-Habits” training sessions, wielding a leather-bound and monogramed daytimer as proof of that accomplishment.
I had mined the tools of the Heart Math Institute as they were offered back then.
I had sat through many workshops on work-life balance.
I had confidence in my skills and my intrinsic value.
(Enter year 2000/2001 : all the balls I had been juggling started falling one at time to the ground, with no relief in sight; I had what could only be termed as a massive meltdown.)
This singular event changed me.
It changed how I viewed myself.
It changed how a collective of people (husband, family, employers and coworkers) viewed me.
It changed how I would walk in the world, going forward.
No other event in my life, other than my father’s passing in 1991, had had such a stark and startling effect.
I felt alone and unsupported.
(Perhaps I had always felt that way, throughout the length of my life on this hurtling rock.)
Let it be known that I would have benefitted greatly from a good psychologist at this point. Good ones are hard to find, though, and while I was seen by several not much had been worked through. Most of the breakthroughs occurred through means initiated on my own.
I had been building a self-help library, but going forward it became heavingly larger.
I turned to the expressive arts to work things out.
I started blogging my journey.
Then my mother died, in 2003.
Nothing puts everything into question more than the loss of a parent. My second parent had left the building and if I had felt alone before through the morass that had become my life, I felt it even more keenly then.
There is much I have learned in the many years since then.
A sense of liberation grows as children age. Parenting (particularly single parenting) a young child is enormously difficult, but as they grow into themselves and become more self-sufficient, you can focus less on their physical and logistical needs and more on building a relationship with them. Not to say that that isn’t already an established thread throughout, but one which can be focused upon more deeply.
I was blessed with an easy child. He was, as a young one, loving, kind and relatively even-tempered. I was always able to reach him and we had a deep level of sympathetic understanding. He has grown into a young man with much the same qualities, although for about a three year period I had to hunt and peck in order to find those parts of him. I had to remind him of who he was (in a way that would reach him, and that was at times difficult).
I had to hunt and peck in order to find those parts of myself, too, and at times that was difficult as well.
Most of the training I had undertaken those long years ago is now pretty much obsolete.
Job hunting is a new animal, and I am still unsure how to position myself, and how the game works.
Aside from that, I don’t like games. I never have. I like to come to the table with the truths, as I know them.
(I have been wrong about truths, but my caveat has always been the admission of my own fallibility in that regard.)
I grow in confidence but continue to balk at how to find my place in this changing world.
My strengths lie in areas that are more intrinsic than measurable, and so much of today’s standards are about quantitative skills and measurable accomplishments.
Yet another thing I balk at. I am a whole package, a human being, not a set of charts and lists.
As a woman, a mother, a human, I continue to seek support, as well as find ways in which to offer the same in kind.
The online community is huge and changing, and just as volatile as the real one (perhaps even more so).
There exist little pockets of belonging in the world and I am glad that I am finding them, little by little, bird by bird.