Our ability to mother is learned from our own mothers and from our personal experience as infants and children. Healing our relationship with our mothers (and fathers) opens our hearts engaging our intuitive wisdom. Remembering our own infancy and childhood — how it felt to be a child, no matter how painful — can evoke in us a sensitivity to our own children. If our own needs as infants and children were not met, respected, affirmed, or even acknowledged, how can we in turn completely give ourselves over to the notion that we should follow our hearts and pick up our babes even before they cry, simply because we heard their silent call — a tug on our heart or breast letting us know they are awakening ?
The first taste of what mothering demands comes through labor. Birth prepares us for the years ahead. Can we welcome — surrender — stop resisting — or at least stop fighting the sensation ? For it is in surrendering to labor that our first lesson in mothering is born. And what satisfaction there is in finally letting go. Allowing ourselves to be swallowed whole, emerging each time anew as wiser women and mothers.
Babies, I’ve discovered, are unpredictable — and rightfully so. They demand we open ourselves to each moment anew. When we accuse our infants of inflicting pain, causing us trouble, being fussy, difficult — portrayed as “out to get us” — might it not be that we are actually the ones who are refusing to cooperate? Are we not refusing to “grow up” and be mature adults able to set aside our wishes (at least temporarily) for one smaller, younger, and less able? Can we simply let go and listen to our inner voice, responding with joy to our little ones calling to us — needing us so deeply, for so short a time? Any woman with older children will gladly remind us how short a time it really is that we have this opportunity.
For me it took a lot of emotional stretching, a lot of crying with my first child (for both of us), before I respected my intuitive voice. No one can tell us the right way to mother our children. No one knows our babies as well as we do. As much as I still want to hear that there is a magic formula to mothering, I see with each joyful/painful step I stretch — that I do indeed stretch, more and more. And like a developing muscle, I become increasingly resilient. A muscle’s strength comes with stretching, not contracting. It is the stretching that brings oxygen, nourishing the muscle so that each contraction is more effective.
By loving myself, mothering myself, I allow myself to grow. To be nourished by my children’s growth and to forgive myself when I resist. It is not our intuitiveness that fails us — it is we who refuse to listen, or have simply never learned to recognize that inner voice — a voice who can guide us in all walks of life, a voice we can trust.
Published in The Doula (USA) Fall/Winter 1986 A mother’s personal exploration in trusting her intuitive gut feelings. Tapping into ones own core as a means of intuitively responding to our babies and children.