The Mother Magazine, Editorial
Issue 42, Sep/Oct 2010
A Mother’s Baggage, by Veronika Sophia Robinson
Women often say to me that mothering must be easier for me than it is for them because I had such a great mum. Not true. Every single day of my mothering is a steep learning curve. Every time I think I’ve got it all fine-tuned, something happens to make me realise my attitude needs a tune-up! It wakes me up, and I recognise that I bring baggage to mothering. It’s impossible to be a perfect mother. Parenting is a process, an evolution. There’s no end point; no time where we have it ‘all worked out’. What I am learning is that a parent must ‘own’, acknowledge and delve into their shadow (aka dark side; baggage) and only then do they have any hope of being able to understand their child’s shadow, and to support them in their processes. We have no hope of healing if we ignore or turn our back on what presses our buttons. We must ‘slay’ the dragon. The dragon always has his hot little body firmly wrapped around the treasures: our gifts. It’s inconvenient, but we must face this invitation with all the courage of a Warrior Goddess and claim what is rightfully ours.
Mothers are like the Moon, ever-changing: waxing, waning, full, new. With so many faces to us, we have so many needs. What happens though, when our child is looking to us for their needs to be met, and we’re not there ~ physically, emotionally or mentally? What if we’ve been gone, even if just for a moment? We’ve shown them the dark side of the Moon. Sometimes our best won’t be good enough...and that nagging or raging voice we default to is the one our children will take into their parenting ~ if they’re unable to heal from their perceptions of the experiences of being mothered.
Just about every woman I talk to says she can hear her mother’s voice coming out of her own mouth when she’s cross. The words of our mother live inside us for life, whether they’re words of praise, kindness, empathy, wisdom or the dark, sharp swords of abuse, shame and ridicule. We have a choice. In every moment, we can heal this. We can heal our mother by not shunting her baggage down the family line; and we heal ourselves by recognising we don’t have to carry the baggage. Leave it at the train station. It serves no purpose to lug it along and inflict it on the rest of your life, or the lives of your children.
Some people had awful mothering in childhood. We want to believe such things can’t happen, and that all mothers are good and loving. Many people didn’t have love, awareness and compassion bestowed upon them in childhood, and therefore find it hard to access these traits and qualities when it comes their time to parent.
Nurturing and understanding our inner child ensures that she doesn’t need to stamp her feet and try to take centre stage at the very moment her own three children are jumping on the sofa like monkeys.
Within every adult is a ‘walking wound’. No matter how expensive the cut of a business suit, the alphabet after a person’s name, or the size of their mansion, within each person is someone who witnessed the dark of their mother’s Moon; they witnessed a mother who had turned away, even if only for a moment ~ or even in their imagination. We’re only ever as strong as our wounded inner child, and our optimal parenting rests on this place. It is our duty to nurture this wounding. As the wise, late Jeannine Parvati Baker often said: the wound reveals the cure. A friend reminded me of a quote, possibly by Robert Bly. We spend the first half of our life packing our bags, and the second half of life unpacking them (all the attitudes and behaviours tucked away deeply in our subconscious). No wonder they call it the mid-life crisis! We become completely unravelled when we start unpacking, and wonder who the heck we are.
In our 24/7 culture, we’re expected to be in top form and on display all the time, but even the great and glorious Moon takes time out. And so should we. Naming and nurturing our inner child should be a priority. We can recreate the Red Tent of our ancestresses by claiming space for quiet introspection: to read, write, listen to music; journal; dance; meditate. Doing so greatly eliminates the need for some unruly inner child to stamp through the place and demand the attention s/he didn’t get in childhood.
I remember my mum once saying how much my dad adored me when I was a little girl. He loved that I was “full of spunk”, and I probably was pretty cute in my little blonde pigtails, that is, until I was about five years old, and placed both hands firmly on my hips, stamped my foot and said “No”, with all the force of Mother Earth beneath me. I come from a long line of Germanic folk who practised “children should be seen and not heard”. But me, I came on this planet to communicate, and clearly I was aware of this mission from an early age. Many parents tend to want to squash or control such behaviour for no other reason than that they didn’t have any role models who showed them that it was okay to give a child freedom of expression. They don’t acknowledge their shadow, and project everything onto the child.
My mother showed me that women can do anything. I was born in rich compost, and to a mother who nurtured my deep desire to explore sacred truths. I remember her frustrations and anger (something which I totally understand now that I’m a parent), and that is as much a part of my baggage as her contagious laughter; sense of fun and mischief; the patience she displayed every time I brought a stray or injured animal home; and her wonderful cooking. She was the best mother for my childhood, and provided an important foundation for my life’s work: holistic, plant-based nutrition; education of the whole child; natural healing modalities; astrology and numerology to understand our drives, motivations and life’s challenges; gardening by the Moon; living intimately with Nature and her cycles. My mother opened my eyes to things I would never have learned in school or from the mainstream media. She taught me that we each create our own reality, so I would be the guardian of all the thoughts in my mind, as well as being aware of ‘what you sow, so shall you reap’. However, my mother wasn’t perfect. How could she be? She’s human. There’s no such thing as a perfect mother, so don’t compare yourself to other mothers. It’s futile. None of us has ever walked in someone else’s shoes, nor did we receive the same parenting. We all have shadows unique to our family myths and stories: incest; violence; alcoholism; depression; suppression of emotions; neglect, suicide, etc. Many of us were abandoned in some way, and are trying to parent as best we can from a place of utter emptiness. We can remind each other to be a ‘good enough’ mother; to forgive our own mother (and father).
I was never much one for playing with dolls, but instead would walk the back fields of our property. Across the rich red Australian soil, I’d trek alone up to the eucalyptus trees on the hills. In my imagination, I spent most of my play time owning an orphanage: it was the best orphanage in the world. The children were well fed on delicious food, just like my mother’s nourishing cooking, and loved fully by everyone who worked there. At the deepest level of my being I was drawn to protect children from feeling unloved and abandoned. More than three decades ago, I heard whispers of my life’s calling: “bring healing to the children”. In my metaphysical studies I learnt that ‘we teach best what we need to learn’. I didn’t start The Mother magazine almost nine years ago because I’m a great mum or because it’s easy for me, but because I have so very much to learn. That’s why I’m still here. Still learning; still digging deep within to excavate authentic mothering. Still slaying the dragon with my eye on the treasures. Easy? Not yet!
Blessings for a glorious Autumn, Veronika