by Sharlene Townes
There are many ways in which we embark upon a heroine’s journey – a voyage deep down into ourselves to heal and reclaim who we were destined to be. Motherhood is one such journey.
Many of us begin this path carrying the burdens of unhealed suffering - from our childhood, from previous relationships and from years of measuring ourselves against external definitions of what it means to be a woman – that left us wounded and uncertain of who we are.
As the focus of our world swivels outward to the survival and nurturance of our child - we are taken inward to the limits of our self-belief, our capacity to endure unknowns and to the very edges of aloneness.
As each new challenge presents itself - daily, hourly, minute-by-minute - we dig deep to draw on our creativity; our capacity for love; our natural curiosity; and a depth of compassion - that deeply bonds us to our child. This is our core nature. We may have lost connection with it, or to its potency, but motherhood provides us a path back.
There will be moments of disconnection, from our partners, from our families and friends, from life outside and at times, from our child and ourselves.
Lurking in the shadows of our most difficult moments we locate our fierce mother lioness. As she roars to protect, we find the courage to challenge opinions, question expectations, to make difficult choices and push through, where once we may have cowered.
As we develop into a fierce and loving mother, so we become more able to turn this compassionate and loving mother inward to heal ourselves. We are invited into a kind of self-responsibility and self-authority that can liberate us from external definitions of who we should be. We cultivate confidence, grit and determination which expands our sense of value and returns us to our intuitive nature. Driven by a new kind of love we heal our inner child and repair parts of ourselves previously unparented, neglected or mistreated.
The authors Hughes & Baylin in their contribution to ‘attachment parenting’, offer us a sturdy guide along this path:
Playfulness – when we can allow for ambiguity, spontaneity and flexibility, we are less rigid in the face of challenges, are able to remain open and creative, just as our children are in their play. We find solutions that expand our capacity to cope, bringing joy and building resilience.
Acceptance – as we accept our child and love them unconditionally, so can we offer this love and compassion to ourselves. Through an attitude of acceptance, we step out of judgement and persecution and offer ourselves the space to be the ‘good enough mother’, recognising this is enough for our child and for us to thrive.
Curiosity – our child develops naturally through their curious nature and we grow as women when we foster this attitude for ourselves. Instead of writhing in guilt at a missed opportunity or a small wrong doing, curiosity silences judgement and creates the space we need to learn and expand.
Empathy – we acutely feel the suffering of our child. This immense capacity for empathy, when turned toward our own inner child, allows us to come face to face with old wounds, hold compassion and comfort for ourselves, just as we would for our child.
Whatever remained unfulfilled and unhealed for our own inner child now has the power to create a new experience for our children.
“Nothing exerts a stronger psychic effect upon … children,
than the life which the parents have not lived”
Whilst motherhood is immensely challenging, this heroine’s journey can be an expansive and healing experience as we reparent our inner child and return home to the woman we were meant to be. In this we are at once alone and victorious on the mountain top, yet deeply connected to one another as women.