The Mother Magazine, Editorial
Issue 41, Jul/Aug 2010
The Radiant Mother, by Veronika Sophia Robinson
My mother was a full-time mum who epitomised the radiant mother archetype. That's not to say she didn't find aspects of mothering difficult or challenging, far from it, but she did bring joy and a delicious sense of humour to her role, not to mention fun. For her, every day was a new adventure. She built us a flying fox to swing on through the garden; made my brothers castles from wood; played hide and seek in our large, rambling garden; sewed rag dolls and dresses; constructed a huge wooden climbing frame; built bonfires in our fields; grew vegetables; and planted an extensive orchard and nut grove. Saturday night was pancake night, and Sunday lunches were always a feast of roast vegetables, for which we would dress in our best clothes. Each morning she squeezed all of us a fresh orange juice, and when we stepped off the school bus in the afternoon there'd be a meal of freshly chopped and grated fresh raw vegetables waiting for us.
Raising eight children and still managing to laugh and be at peace must surely call for some sort of recipe? My mother's elixir was yoga and meditation, and daily immersion in Mother Nature. Around her in sub-tropical Queensland, she thrived among frangipani, hibiscus, freesias and fruit trees. Her hands were happiest when growing new life, whether it was babies birthed from her body, tending plants, or other creative projects. My mother never knew boredom, and I do believe that's one of the keys to being a radiant mother: the ability to tap into our creative energies and weave them into the raising of our children. My family recently had the pleasure of spending five days in Nature with subscribers of The Mother. Enveloped in the love and peace of these radiant families, I saw, once again, the radiant mother archetype, and came home renewed by being a witness to one of the most essential things for a peaceful culture: strong foundations built on a family where the mother is enjoying her role.
I've always felt a deep sadness when I hear of mothers saying they have to go back to work because they're 'bored'. Bored of their children or bored of themselves? I'd say it's the latter. It's too easy to dismiss full time mothering without looking within to find what's missing. There isn't any reason to be bored as a mother or as a person. Our difficulties come from a culture which doesn't reflect the value of our parenting gifts, and offers no bouquets for the art of spiritual housekeeping. That's the culture's problem, we don't need to make it ours too.
As I write, on a rainy Summer's evening, my fourteen year old daughter is snuggled on the sofa smelling a lavender bag made by the hands of one of our favourite 'radiant mother' friends. Discovering our creative nature and engaging with those little acts which make our heart sing are the keys to bringing our full self into mothering. Some mothers enjoy baking cakes, stitching lavender bags, sewing clothes, knitting toys, making herbal tinctures, writing stories, tending houseplants, crafting soap, weaving, bottling pickles and jams, building treehouses...
For me, simple acts such as hanging the washing on the line under the plum and apple trees, and folding the clothes, or baking date scones, growing salad leaves or reading a story with my teenagers are all part of the mothering day. My daughters' ideas of a radiant mother include a mum who'll take her children on picnics, whether it's in the woods, by the river, on the family bed or in the bathtub! She's a mum who takes time every day to make home-made meals; is in tune with her children's needs; sings because she's happy; makes chamomile tea parties, with ginger and macadamia cookies; blends smoothies for breakfast; always has time for cuddles and puts work on hold to snuggle on the sofa. She's forgiving; likes to laugh; hums a tune; listens to her baby's cues so she doesn't need to cry; gives thanks for the beauty and brilliance of her children; and honours the children's other parent in word and deed.
A radiant mother is one who has learnt to nurture herself in little ways every day so that her well doesn't run dry. She takes time to mother herself so that she can be loving, lively, courageous and soul-footed. She knows who she is, and she knows what she needs.
The radiant mother lives in awe of the gifts she's been given, and doesn't live a single day taking them for granted. She knows how quickly life can change ~ and sometimes without warning ~ and she makes the nest strong, soft, warm, inviting, friendly and loving, knowing that her chicks won't always be there. Boredom isn't in her vocabulary, and it's never in her nest.
Fly free, fly high, and enjoy your chicks.