"Held By Spirit" by Lucy Pierce
The Soulcraft of Motherhood
I want to talk, vulnerably, about a dawning realisation that I have never respected my children enough, that I have never respected enough their need for care and time and stillness and attention, for teaching and honesty, and the humble work of re-purposing energetic patterning., to serve rather than hinder their evolution, because I have been battling the stories that my formative years and my culture grew in me, of inadequacy and unworthiness, lack of advocacy and protection. It has taken so much for me to re write these stories and to discover within this new capacity to offer love and holding and infinitely tender compassion to my broken parts, that this is in fact the birthright of all those that are born unto life. Our survival and capacity to thrive and prosper is deeply dependant on the depth of our care givers capacity to love, care and protect.
Even as a drug free, natural/water/home-birthing, breast feeding, co-sleeping mumma. I have always struggled to fully own the power and significance of the profound work I have been doing in raising these small humans, because I live in a culture that brutally minimises and subjugated the task of mothering. There have always been ways that I have berated myself for being too attached, too enmeshed, too unhinged from the ways of our world. There have always been times when I have turned my back on my children in order to seek succour from the dry breast of my culture, the hollow identity of something the world might validate as worthy, seeking to become less of the mother that I was unmistakably becoming, trying to make less of myself again, make my children’s needs less obtuse and ever present.
Birthing a baby is an incredibly profound and arduous and transformational experience. Birthing oneself as mother is in one sense an aftermath of the experience of birth. On another level, birth is but the beginning of the altogether more complex experience of midwifing the emergence of the distinctive qualities and embodied presencing of “mother” into being. There is a far more subtle and prolonged process of reaching through the veils of time to retrieve our primitive maternal instincts, while simultaneously reaching forwards into our evolutionary pathways to bring through the capacities that the bloodlines of our future will demand of our grandchildren, correcting the overbearance of our ancestors, predicting the birthrights of our progeny. This is a much slower and less inevitable unfolding that requires our constant attention, formidable courage, gracious humility and evolutionary tenacity, especially in a world that is actually predicated on hindering this powerful movement towards awakening our full human potential through a path of radical self-determination.
I have long felt frustration at the way our world is so ready to institutionalise “child care” as though it were something easily quantifiable and replicatable. For me as I have navigated the terrain of caring for my children it has stretched me to become a much more fierce and unruly creature. The unique needs of my children’s blueprints calling forth unfathomable strands from our ancestral lineage to be rewoven into new, less restrictive patterns. They have triggered to the profound depth of me, the particular misconfigurations of my own conditioning and I have been asked again and again to reform myself, surrender outdated beliefs and limiting perceptions, that have hindered my capacity to facilitate their own energetic evolutionary interface with life that I signed up to facilitate to the best of my ability when I opened my body to receive, gestate, and birth them earthside. I have come to realise that I am perfectly designed to endure this bone-crunching work, because I share blood and lineage with them, because their souls chose me as their mother and mine chose them. Because the universe had orchestrated these particular relationships to converge on this earth plain, at this time, to aid in the evolution of humanity as an embedded aspect of the co-creative universe.
It is not easy work, growing one’s motherhood, it is a path of immense sacrifice and immeasurable joy, of gruelling labour and the most tender of becomings. In this work we are constantly birthing and growing love upon the earth, with the currency of our care, we are healing the wounded interface of the world with our kisses and our conversations, with our boundaries and our bodies. In our world those that care for children are always having to leave them behind to attend to the world, to work and to social engagement as so few social activities are designed to enrich and meet the needs of adults and children alike. We live in a very child unfriendly world, and I cannot help but wonder what the future of that world will look like.
As I age and grow and endure the forging by fire of aspects of myself required to be fully available to the psycho spiritual tasks of life, I see how it is the very parts of my self that have been wounded by patriarchy that are the parts required for fierce, attuned parenting of my children. My fierce instinct, the subtlety of intuition, the strength and power to know and to act, to hold space, strong boundaries, powerful self respect and the capacity to serve the other with devotion and astute endurance. For me having a child has never been something I have been able to hand over to the state. It has been in the grit and grind of finding ways of stay connected and alive to the needs of my children that have grown me into someone worthy of the task’s gravity of stewarding in members of our future generation.
I feel keenly all the ways that internally I have set them aside energetically to grapple with my place in the world, and my lack of capacity to simultaneously attend with soulful attunement to heir needs and to make a living and find a place for myself in the workforce. I have catagoricaly failed on the workforce front, but I feel that the internal struggle to own my impulse to fiercely mother my children and to energetically fight the world for my right to do so, has impacted on my capacity to offer my children their rightful sense of importance. When the carer’s psyche is continually fighting for her right to care, those being cared for are to a degree abandoned.
As the gruelling work of motherhood has grown me, I have become more conscious of my own worth and value as a woman who is mother, I have begun to sense, and attune to and to claim the qualities of woman that are required of an instinctual warrior of tenderness and love, of righteous advocacy and exquisite care, that true motherhood requires. I see how in my early years of motherhood I struggled to parent as a wounded, self-effacing, boundary impaired, uncertain, shame-carrying, obedient female, struggling to learn the power and autonomy required of her to honour her children over the world, to nourish the seed of the future rather than feed the ghosts of the past. There are still days when I struggled and fall, falter and fail.
We live in a world where children are often deeply disrespected, medicated, poisoned with toxic overload, passed over to underfunded institutionalised care, so that those born to care for them can continue to respond to the impossible demands of a consumer driven economy. As a woman I have felt the world inside me undermine the very qualities the soul of motherhood inside me required to grow in order to do the job of raising bonded, secure, awake, alive, empowered humans. I have felt the annihilating disrespect of the feminine that my world inhabits hinder my capacity to offer comfort to my children in their real human need for these selfless qualities of unbridled compassionate care. I have felt my own self-loathing and shame be the weapon that has in subtle ways shamed and imbued to my children that they don’t have the right to ask that their true human needs be powerfully and deeply met in this life…but actually they do, they do have that right.
Our children have every right to autonomous power, to full emotional expression, to a full-bodied bondedness to earth, community, family, self, an alive and heartfull relationship of self love and a knowing of their right to ask for their needs to be met, to expect that they can advocate for their own particular needs and energies, that are birthing within them, to steward in the next chapter of humanities evolution. I cannot know what my children will need to grapple with in their futures, but I know that they need me as their mother to do as much work as possible now, to dismantle the internal structures of a soul destroying patriarchy within my relational paradigm, so that as I unshackle myself from the subtle and overt disrespect and internalised shame, they are more free to know of their own power and agency to rebuild the human world as a force of reciprocal indebtedness to the magnificence of all creation.
I am apologising to my children for all the ways I have let the world inside of me diminish their importance, put aside their needs, belittled or silenced their hunger for space and care, to attend to my place in a system that is destroying our planet. I want to claim more fiercely, the full gravity and weight of my responsibility to the soul of the world, which I accepted when I birthed these babes into existence. I feel proud of the ways in which I have birthed within my own being a fierce, empowered mother, who is learning to advocate for her children’s full bodied existence, for their right to clean food, air and water. This is the force that will shape a world worthy of our children, it will require all of our evolutionary stretching into the uncomfortable unknown, as we dismantle the financial imperatives of a plundering culture and attune to a care driven economy. For me it has begun in my tenacious incapacity to let go of this gruelling work of the soul, that is becoming mother, a job that takes a lifetime and every inch of grit I have within me.
I want to change our world so that it is easier for new young mothers to find their way into fierce advocacy and powerfully attuned care for their tender hearted babes. I want these future mothers to have the unshakeable support of those of us who have gone before, to draw wisdom from, to take stock with, so that we can get our priorities straight. Having a child is a magnificent and astronomically life-changing event, learning to care for that child, to really care, ongoingly and impeccably will take more than just the unseen battle of a solitary woman forging her heart to love in the darkness of her own tears of struggle and isolation. Although that is a courageous beginning, it will require a culture that sees and celebrates the true value of this powerful work, of becoming custodian to the seeds of tomorrow, so that as a people we are fully alive and embodied and empowered and awake, fully versed in the language of our love and connection to the self and the all.
I want to find new ways of radically supporting those who are radically raising the custodians of our future, these children belong to us all, and while mothers are a really good start, and a mother and a father is a really really great start, and a strong extended family and friendship is wonderful, and a wider culture of advocacy and support is also imperative. These children belong to us all, let’s help them become as powerful and magnificent as the blueprint of their soul’s incarnation can allow them to be.
The daily skills of motherhood are varied and rare, the willingness to wield a firm and life-giving No; the capacity to remain present and calm and unattached to outcome in a wildly chaotic domestic landscape; holding the world of “to dos” at bay in order to hold and heartsing a babe to sleep and wholeness; navigating the push-me-pull-me maelstroms of the emerging will of the child, without wavering or shaming; staying awake and immutable in the face of blood and gore, snot and tears; putting yourself aside again and again and again because someone else has need of you, it is a path of alchemy, an act of revolution, to stay and grow these capacities within oneself, in service to the future of the world.
I want to wrestle this work back from the outrageously impossible economic imperatives of our age. I want to bestow swathes of acclaim on the parents raising their children alone, single handedly holding the world at bay and crooning to the insecure questions of a child that knows there is meant to be more holding than what this one harried human can offer, while simultaneously attempting to slay the dragon of “mutual obligation” and economic stability.
I am not criticising the choices of parents who choose to outsource this work, we all do what we must and can to survive in these times, but I do want to hands down salute all those beings who lean into this labour of love, who do without so much in order to be the one who is there, tending to the wound of the uncared for soul of the world. I honour all those beings who support a partner financially so that they may care for children, this transcends gender, but we cannot transcend the deficit of genuine heart-centred care and the legacy of pain it leaves in the wake of its absence, that is nestled in the cradle of our modern world and it’s parenting culture.
It does take a village to raise a child, and that starts in the nucleus of the primordial matrix of care, with honour and support to the mother, and the father, and the family, and the world, from the centre out. The core of our village is rotten and only our children can teach us the skills we need to learn to build a new one, when we stop long enough to turn to them and ask what it is that they are needing us to grow within ourselves for them to fully arrive into the vast offering of growth and potential, for homecoming and healing, that dwells at the heart of their care.
I want to stop minimising my motherhood and the needs of my children, I want to claim that even though I don’t get to do yoga everyday, parenting is a daily practice I show up for every living day of my life, without fail, rain, hail or shine. I don’t want to try to make my children fit the space my culture has allotted them because they’re bound to loose some vital psychic limbs if I do, and I want them to belong to the all of life, all the time, not just when it’s convenient for the world. I want to create a world that has a more heartfull regard for children and families, one where children are not relegated to the outskirts but are nested at the heart, as the future custodians of our people and planet, the future ambassadors for the living now, and where those who choose to do the hard work of caring for them are not relegated to financial and social invisibility and alienation, but rather shine and are celebrated in the satisfaction of this powerful lifework of sustaining life, growing humans, guiding and supporting life, creating life, from the depths of the heart, the body, the mind and the soul.
Prints and cards of "Held by Spirit" available on my Etsy site.
Text and image © Lucy Pierce 2018