Reflections ~ then and now
Post Hands-On Mothering
What Next and an Invitation
Walking my Talk
2020 began a year like no other,
offering many of us the opportunity to pause our day to day activities and take stock.
Following swiftly on its heels,
2021 heralded the end of a cycle of 21 years.
One third of my life spent mothering, and another opportunity for reflection . . .
Taking the positives from the pandemic and the enforced social isolation of 2020,
at the close of 2020 I began this process, its all about these 7 R's
Recover, (post hands-on mothering)
Reflect (on the learning of the last 21 years)
Reconnect (to myself)
Re-learn (how to study)
Reconfigure (mind, body and spirit)
Research and Develop (my next creative steps)
Regain - my sense of self (who am I now post hands-on mothering?)
from this . . .
This feels huge!
Unexpectedly becoming a mother changed everything . . . not for better or worse, simply radically different, quite a contrast from my singleton life!
In former times, as a creative, I might have been described (amongst other things) as the bolter . . . skipping or sometimes running from one discipline to another, one incarnation of my life to the next, but becoming a parent helped me to stay, stay in one place, stay with the process, stay with myself and stay with my son, what a journey . . .
. . and, that said, it was probably like many mothering journeys,
a mixed bag, so much learning on the job, moments of doing it well, times of doing it badly. It was a veritable smorgasbord, frequent flashes of hilarity, feelings of satisfaction, joy, love and intimacy, interspersed with hours of exhaustion, drudgery, rage and frustration.
Many of these experiences were rarely directly related to the hands on aspects of mothering per say, they were part of the mirror that all children hold up to their parents, unwittingly revealing our habits and handicaps, our likes and dislikes, and clearly highlighting the many disadvantages of the western model of the nuclear family, the absence of the village writ large. Also for me, with the increased levels of tedious tasks, especially domestic ones, it shone a bright light onto the additional and multiple layers of admin and domestic tasks being a parent brought, bringing into sharp focus my loathing of these things. This was definitely an added challenge!
However, now the fundamental part is done, 21 years of mothering down, that box, well and truly ticked. He is now, like the rest of us,
his very own unique collection of earth and stardust, strengths and challenges, and what he makes of it all, is his to choose . . .
. . . but what next for me?
Well, its a combination, a period of reflection, research and development, crafting different ways of being as I step into this new identity post hands-on mothering . . .
. . . and yes, I am still working,
and of course, still a mother and a parent, I am no longer actively mothering, so after a third of my life spent mothering, here was an opportunity to make change.
. . . although yes, I am still working
I am longer actively mothering and so here was that much longed for opportunity to make change.
Throughout my recovery process, putting myself and my wellbeing centre stage, felt not only key
to my post hands-on mothering,
but a radical step.
Challenging the prevalent narrative where the idolatry of the 'self-less' mother frequently runs rampant.
Daring to step away from the confines
and potential cages often ascribed
to mothers beyond their fertile years.
This felt essential, if I was to feel free
to step fully into this frequently
uncharted and often undocumented
stage of womanhood.
FURTHER REFLECTIONS . . .
Recovering my intuitive and creative self ~ required building a bridge of sorts, a bridge that I could cross back to myself.
Beginning slowly during 2020, but in earnest in 2021/22, quiet reflection
and additional sleep served me well. The timing of the pandemic offered the perfect window to step back a little from my work as an interdisciplinary practitioner, increase my commercial driving work, (the perfect occupation for reflection) and begin to craft a recovery program for myself. Finally acknowledging and recognising I was struggling with burn out. I began the slow process of getting well again, reclaiming the lost parts of myself through a dive into some further psychotherapeutic work, combining this with mentoring and coaching from Spring 2021, adding in a small selection of online courses, and the final, and important cornerstone of all of this, to aid the recovery of my intuitive and creative self, my immersion in nature. A combination of cold water swimming and drawing on practices I learned during my time co-leading Ritual Art in Nature.
The financial sacrifice to achieve this ~ no cinema nor theatre trips, no pub visits, rarely even a bottle of vino shared with a neighbour, I put all my spare resources into this. It was hard, but it was worth it! Asking for help, embarking on new reading, listening to different podcasts, has all contributed towards provoking new ways of thinking, being and doing. It has also helped to solidify some long-cherished ideals.
Finding a new, more grounded and embodied voice, this period of critical self reflection has been essential in recovering my confidence. Giving me a renewed sense of purpose for what I now see as a potentially rich and potent time.
Post Hands-On Parenting Transitions ~ towards the end of 2023, as I begin again walking steadily back out into the world with a renewed sense of purpose, I am also stepping forward into this enquiry, see my R&D page. What could our lives as women be like if we actively chose to live this chapter, fully, on purpose, and for ourselves? To do this well I believe we have to commit. I wonder if this commitment could be helped and reinforced by meaningful rituals, marking this time as a rite of passage into what could be the most creatively rewarding period of a woman’s life.
And of course, all these reflections
now dance between centre stage and forming the backdrop
to this next chapter of my life,
transitioning from mothering as a primary activity,
to parenting as part of the ground upon which I stand,
which brings me to . . .