Weaving Motherhood

A few days ago I updated my bio to say I’m the mother of 3. My youngest is 3 months old now and my oldest is 5, soon to be 6. I’ve been breastfeeding for almost 6 years straight, with a 3 month break when my oldest weaned at 20 months and his sister didn’t arrive for 3 more months. So much has changed in such little time, yet days feel long and sometimes nights longer.

It was after the birth of my second that I descended into the abyss of the mother victim. for a few years after she was born I was clawing my way back from the underworld. I had gathered some real gems and also was so ready to integrate back into the upper world.

Now I feel myself teetering there again integrating a third baby into our family. I look down the abyss and know I don’t have to go down there again. It’s ok if I do. I know the way back up but the journey lost its grip on me.

The dialogue around motherhood is so complex in times of social media and women’s so called liberation to work outside the home and a total collapse of village like infrastructure and yes even the patriarchal structures that envelope is all. I know I shouldn’t mention patriarchy but it is indeed true.

My maternal grandmother had three children well before she was 30, which was the age I was with my first child. Life hardened her when my grandfather passed away after a car accident that left him on life support for many days. She didn’t have a college education, well at least not a full one. But onward she went providing for her kids, working full time in and outside the home. She hardly complained or felt bad for herself. She drank and smoked too much (still does). She was strong and willful and capable.

Why am I sharing this you ask? Well, stay with me but I think we all know motherhood reveals threads of our ancestral lineage that are coming undone to be woven into a new masterpiece.

My mother was 14 when she lost her father. That was around the same time she met my father. I don’t think I need to explain more about that dynamic but they were, seemingly to me, happily married for more than 15 years before divorcing when I was 14. Again ancestral ties coming undone. Karmic imprints being completed.

My mother never spoke much of her father or shared any of his life with us, which looking back was just normal since he was never part of my life. Yet, now of course I see she had so much unresolved grief that it was too much to bear.

Are you a lineage re-weaver? Taking threads from the past and making them into something beautiful? Maybe you too are like me and made a full descent into the mother victim because those before you simply could not.

The reasons why they could not are simple and complex like life itself. There are the responsibilities, like those my grandmother took over when her provider husband passed on, and then there is the emotional capacity, the support network and even the cultural context.

It’s taken so much for us to get where we are. Spiraling from the times of matriarchal villages to the dawn of agriculture and patriarchal religions to now where “feminism” doesn’t necessarily help mothers. Oh we’re so confused collectively about what is needed to sustain and nourish life.

But mothers are not confused. Or at least they’re not confused about what’s required to nourish life. They’re not confused when they’re up soothing a baby again and again at their breast throughout the night. They’re not confused when they prioritize connection and bonding over doing and productivity. They’re not confused about what life needs or what mothers need to thrive.

Just because we’re not confused doesn’t mean we get what we need. And there the mother victim archetype comes in like a ghost of the past and takes up residence in your heart if you let it. And please do let it if you need to go there. The descent is wild and messy and painful but also ecstatic and liberating.

After all you are reweaving threads but first you have to get naked to the truth of motherhood.

I once had the image of feeling like I was at the end of my rope between two babies born 23 months apart to my husband losing his job when I was 6 months postpartum. Many if not all mothers have felt this. It’s the next image that is a bit more terrifying. Motherhood takes you to the end of that rope and then asks that you strip the skin from your own flesh and tie it to that end so you can keep hanging.

Those days were so hard and also so beautiful. My full descent and embodiment of the mother victim archetype was liberating for my lineage and also for me.

Yet, don’t be fooled. The victim is never banished! She still dances with me from time to time and I’m reminded of how her imprint moves with me when things get challenging. It’s like meeting an old friend that you know won’t change, who may be on a totally different life path now, and yet you love them nonetheless.

Knowing how the mother victim archetype shows up in your psyche and in the collective helps us heal and move towards creating changes that actually support mothers and families. We can’t get what we want in victimhood but she must come and dance with us into the future.

Now I sit with a baby asleep across my lap and honor this journey I’ve been on over several years time. Sometimes I just let myself go into the mother victim archetype again because I know I don’t have to go into the abyss again and she’s much more pleasant when I embrace her as my own.

No more banishment or ignoring the undercurrents. The mother victim archetype is here to reveal and heal. It can reveal where we need more support and also where we need to become stronger – psychologically that is. It helps us heal ourselves and our lineages so our daughters can embody the expressed mother, the nourished mother, the whole mother.

And we can too.

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