One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do…in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I was talking to my uncle the other day – my mother’s brother. This side of my family are oddly isolated. Each family member and their little family operates much like a satellite – spinning around in the atmosphere, occasionally bumping into each other and then bouncing off again on their solo journey. Even more oddly, many of us live in the same neighbourhood. I am no different – I love to bump satellites with them, but rarely go to the trouble of organising a proper get together. A shame really, because I really like them, this eclectic bunch of healers and artists.
So my uncle and I bumped satellites at a function I helped organise for the area’s complementary therapists; my grandmother, uncle and mother have been practicing complementary medicine (chiropractor, osteopath, homeopath, naturopath, herbalist) in this little valley for more than 30 years. When they started, the country folk around here had never seen such things before, although some of them still used home remedies that their mothers and grandmothers used. After initial mutterings of quacks and witch craft, my family settled in and have been in constant demand ever since.
Have you found that sometimes you start telling one story only to end up telling another? Here I am telling you the story of my family, and I still haven’t told you about the conversation that sparked this post!
So, anyway, here I am at this function and my uncle and I are chatting, as you do. I ask him how his daughters, my cousins were going – they are about 10 years younger than me and off doing young women’s things in the big city, much like I did when I was their age. He replied that they are growing up beautifully, and that he didn’t need to worry after all :). So we started talking about the fears that we have as parents, the worry and the hope, all mixed up in this unruly package of love. I made a joke:
And then my uncle said:
You know, our children choose us because they need what we have. The most important thing in being a parent is to just be yourself and love them, because that’s what they need from us.
I let his words percolate and settle within me, and felt a great sense of peace and relief (a sure sign that I have come across a truth). This wisdom has revisited me quite a few times over the past few days. One of the roads of thought it has taken me down is a reaffirmation that my style of mothering is perfect for my children – they chose me, they need me to be who I really am.
I am feisty, strict, demanding – and I will play board games and read stories for hours. I yearn for freedom, space and solitude – and I am reliable, I keep promises, turn up on time and know all their friends’ names. I am not sporty, crafty or good at dancing – but I play backyard cricket whenever my son wants me to, I make sure my kids always have art supplies and a place to create; and music, books, good food and beauty are always present in my home. Sometimes I shout, yell and curse, feel disappointed and am just plain old bad tempered – but I never blame anyone else for my moods and I apologise if I step too far out of line. I can be distracted and irritable – but I am always there when my kids really need me.
I am that I am and it is enough.
The other road I have travelled down when thinking about this wisdom is how women torment themselves because they do not fit into our society’s ideal mother image. Newsflash – no one does. This is not an image, it is a caricature, grossly deformed and completely unattainable. I see women quietening their loud voices, strapping down their wildness and modulating their laughter to squeeze themselves into an illusion. It breaks my heart, it really does.
None of it is real. The only thing that is real is you, the real you. Where do I find this real me? Look for it in your favourite places – and it doesn’t have to be the kitchen (although I like to cook, not everyone does and not everyone should). Look for it in your favourite things to do – and it doesn’t have to involve your family. Look for it in your favourite books, movies, music and art. What is it about these things that you like?
Your work then, is to uncover the real you (the clues are everywhere, always) and be true to her (or him). It’s called integrity. You may know it as being real, having a strong moral compass or being true to yourself. It’s the most important task you are to do here, and your children are here to help you.
And the Great Mother said:
Come my child and give me all that you are.
I am not afraid of your strength and darkness, of your fear and pain.
Give me your tears. They will be my rushing rivers and roaring oceans.
Give me your rage. It will
erupt into my molten volcanoes and rolling thunder.
Give me your tired spirit. I will lay it to rest in my soft meadows.
Give me your hopes and dreams. I will plant a field of sunflowers and arch rainbows in the sky.
You are not too much for me. My arms and heart welcome your true fullness.
There is room in my world for all of you, all that you are.
I will cradle you in the boughs of my ancient redwoods and the valleys of my gentle rolling hills.
My soft winds will sing you lullabies and soothe your burdened heart.
Release your deep pain.
You are not alone and you have never been alone.
~Linda Reuther, from Homecoming (via ShamanTube)