Mother; we all have one. We were all birthed from our Mother’s womb, whether or not we know her.
Mother; we* will all be one. Whether or not we have have children.
The Mother archetype is the second phase in a woman’s life, following on from the Maiden phase. Typically, the Mother years span our 30’s, our caring, protecting, nurturing decade when we are in full bloom, where as the Maiden covers years 12 (approx) to 29. This phase is archetypal and embodies the mindset, maturity, emotions and feelings of the “Mother”. Of course, there will be an overlap between the phases for many women as some will be Mothers at 16 years old or not until 45 years old, and some either through choice or otherwise, never become a Mum.
You are the Mother.
The Mother phase may not seem applicable to some as they have chosen not to, or are unable to have children, but that does not rule out the Mother in all of us. She is the Creatrix of life; be that children, career, project, self, garden, however you choose and what ever you create in this life. You are the Mother.
Who is She?
She is a whole host of labels including : Stay At Home mum, Working mum, Pushy mum, Step mum,Tiger mum, Elephant mum, Helicopter mum, Over protective mum, Negligent mum, Judgmental mum, Holier-than-thou mum, Yummy Mum(my), Slobby mum, Competitive Mum, PTA mum, Earth Mum, Hippie Mum, Teen mum, Old mum, Geriatric (in the UK, pregnant women over the age of 36 are referred to as geriatric…charming) mum, Adopted mum, Child-less woman, IVF mum, Single mum, Busy mum, Absent mum… I’m sure there are 100 more labels that I have missed that could be added. But is that really who she is? I think not.
This phase of our lives is possibly the most judged; we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t! Your choices here are up for discussion and scrutiny whether you like it and know it or not. But why is this the case? Society and of course, Patriarchy.
The role of mother is valued and equally not valued. Our fertile years carry an expectation that we will reproduce whilst at the same time judge us for staying at home to raise our own children or pass comment that we have returned to the workplace instead of being at home. To stay at home is a luxury as it is seen as not be participating in or contributing to economic growth of the society, yet to work is seen as a fault as we expect the state or strangers to raise our kids whilst we are at work. Its a no win situation. And that is without the gender pay gap the maternity leave wrongfully exacerbates via unscrupulous and manipulative employers. You will of course be no stranger to the fact that this is specific purely to Mothers; Fathers are not subjected to such restrictions, judgments or expectations.
Should you be childfree/childless during these ‘fertile’ years, you are not free from probing questions and judgement either – regardless of how inappropriate or hurtful the interrogation. “My body, my choice, my business – fuck off and mind your own” is not, however, regarded as a suitable answer by these judgey types. The flow of the caustic opine is purely one way.
Whilst the Mother is pregnant, in current society, she is revered, fawned over and strangers have a desire to touch your ever growing belly, sans permission. A pregnant woman is celebrated. That is until the baby is born, then the focus shifts. This is the time when Mothers are at their most vital, most important, most in need, yet this is the time when your role begins its demise in patriarchal society. You are invisible, unless you are being judged. Mother is on the pedestal and every expectation not met is a failing to be scorned.
And I am no stranger to judgement; being judged and judging others. It’s not pretty from either side but it’s there and it runs deep. We judge others from our own insecurities and hurt beyond belief when on the receiving end which further fuels the judgement cycle. Or maybe that’s just me.
grieve the loss of our maiden years
Moving from the Maiden to the Mother is not necessarily an easy transition. We are older, with different priorities to our maiden years, many of us have way more responsibilities too. Raising children, caring for parents or other relatives, supporting friends and sisters with their children, birthing and working in careers, starting and building own businesses and countless other responsibilities that tend to fall on us at this time. With that extra load, it is absolutely necessary to grieve the loss of our maiden years and its freedoms. We wear our tiredness as a badge of honour and medicate with wine or gin. Societal conditioning plays its part here too with the expectation of us to be selfless in the quest to achieve and do it all. There is also the male gaze to contend with, which is kept sustained by the media. It is a damn site harder to maintain the Maiden physique in the Mother years. Our bodies don’t just snap back into their Maiden mould postpartum, because they aren’t supposed to! They are fuller and rounder, plump and juicy like ripe fruit; no longer just a bud. Just like nature. We are a part of nature rather than apart from nature.
Let’s look positively at this phase in our life. There is so much wisdom, joy, celebration and beauty we can get out of these years should we let ourselves open up to receive.
This is the full moon stage of the lunar cycle – full belly, luminous, beautiful and glorious. Fully in protection mode, healing and receiving. Radiant with health and well being, she is captivating. She is a wonder. Magic.
Looking at the menstrual cycle, the Mother phase is ovulation, our inner summer. This is our most fertile time, when we have the most energy and are feeling super charged, super sexy, confident and magnetic. (Ironically, in my Mother phase years, I felt super knackered, super frumpy, insecure, full of doubt and lonely as fuck – more so in the first few years rather than the latter as I had then made friends with an amazing group of beautiful, loving and supportive women!). We are living with the lessons we learned during our Maiden’s journey. We are wiser, older, more aware of who we are and what our values and priorities are.
How can we ensure that the Mother years are the positive experience they ought to be? How to cultivate that supportive and nurturing environment? You just know what I’m going to say… Circle!
THIS is one of those times in life when your circle is your life line. Whether a circle of women you gather with regularly in sacred space, or a specific Mother’s circle, the support is there waiting to hold you when you need it. You can be honest and let out the shadow side without judgement and are encouraged to share ALL aspects of this Mother energy – the good, the bad, the struggles and the victories. The fellow women in circle will have been there or going through it similarly. You also have the opportunity to pay this back when the time comes for other women to need the support. It is connection to peers interwoven between generations and differing experiences. There are are many things we would love to say or admit but can’t coz judgment. And judgement surrounding Mothering or the choice not to become a “Mother” is one of the worst and most deeply felt. Personally, had I had the circle in place back when I entered the Mother phase, my own journey would have been dramatically different. I know that to be a fact.
What was my experience was that this phase was my loneliest in my life. I went from being confident and self assured at 31, to birthing my son and experiencing a 180 degree flip in my personality. When I needed support the most, when at the most vulnerable and lost, self conscious and lacking in self confidence and ability to be the Mother I wanted to be, I was without the support I needed. The friends I had had were gone, and I didn’t initially have the confidence to make more, for a good few of years. I had my Mum and Mother in Law, both of whom were supportive in their own way, but these 2 women did not a circle make. But once I started believing in myself again and my capabilities, forcing myself out to meet new people – and finding the right ones – my life changed. My group of friends in my circle are treasured and invaluable, not just to me but to one another – our support is collective and given amongst each other as needed.
Just think what the Mother years would look like if circles where caring, sharing and supporting each other were the norm rather than the judgement and criticism faced in isolation.
The village raises the child. The circle honours the woman.
(Lissa ~ Wild Sister Rising)
*The we here refers to CIS women, as this is my frame of reference and understanding.