There is something I have been noticing and observing as I traverse this new reality as a Mother. In the beginning, when my baby was brand new, there were very few expectations placed on me outside of tending my self and my baby. It was acceptable across the cultural and social spectrum that I recover and bond with my baby. However, that began to change even as early as a couple of weeks postpartum and I reflect how susceptible I was to the pull of the current moving much more quickly outside of my baby bliss bubble. Even with a very tender bottom, big sore boobies, and a brand new baby I succumbed to the beckon of my family members to "get out of the house" because I believed them when they said "it would be good for me." Reflecting back now I am shocked and sad about how quickly I pretended to bounce back as if I hadn't just crossed the deeply transformative threshold from maiden to mother. And to be honest, part of me WANTED to move, and do, and be a part of it all again. It is a hugely meditative and healing process to simply be. At the beginning, the idea of 40 days at home in bed sounded dreamy, but a week or so in I started feeling this subtle tug to be doing something more. Nowadays there are all sorts of swings and carriers and pumps to get us up and moving again sooner than later, neglecting not only our own tender state, but also the very fresh and new tiny human who we just birthed. It's important to recognize the sensitivity of the newborn state as they experience life outside the womb for the first time. You can watch a newborn "startle" at the slightest shift in energy; imagine what bright lights and loud noise must feel like in those first few brand-new moments, days, weeks, even months.
In traditional cultures across the globe, women's post birth recovery is some version of "laying in" whether for 21 days or up to 40 days, and during this time she is not to be distracted from her tasks of healing and bonding. This is something so obviously significant and yet massively overlooked in our modern day culture, replaced with an expectation of back-to-work in your skinny jeans stat. This trend is slowly diminishing the role of Mother in our society. Imagine what a community without the role of Mother looks like?
I believe passionately in the health of our world as a direct reflection of the health of our Mothers. The role of Mother is the one who nourishes, holds, protects, teaches, and grows our future. How is it that this mighty feat has been diminished to an isolated journey of "not doing enough?"
As my son moves (runs, jumps, and spins) through his transition from baby to toddler, I notice even more starkly the strong pull to do more, be more, and get more done beyond the all-encompassing task that is being his Mother. I hear stories about "well when I was a mother I had to work full time with 5 kids." I am well aware that our current society is set up in such a way that it is nearly impossible for most families to exist on one income. However, rather than fuel me into the desire to outsource my child's care so that I can have a job and make money, it inspires me to dive deeper into the path of sustainable homesteading where we are less and less dependent on the current economical system. Living simply and being self-sufficient as a family is both cost efficient as well as healthy and fulfilling for all of us. My son learns tremendous amounts of knowledge as we play out side, planting seeds, digging in the dirt, and climbing trees. Logistically speaking, childcare would cost almost as much money as I could earn per hour with my college degree. And doing a job for someone else outside of my home gives me even less time to accomplish the truly never-ending daily chores that ARE raising a child and maintaining a home.
Of course this exploration of the role of Mother is also an exploration of the current construct of our society. Many women today are going back to work (or planning to) at the fresh young time of 6 weeks post part. Maybe, MAYBE they will have fully healed physically and are able tome about their day without any discomfort, but most likely their bodies are still tender. At 6 weeks old, babies are still hungry for skin to skin contact, breastmilk, and the security and comfort of mama. Full time daycare/pre-school is available at the tender and young age of 2 years old. What kind of society do we live in that families actually NEED to depend on that much time away from their children so they can take on a whole separate job? And some may argue of course, that they ENJOY their vocation and are happy to return to work. There is nothing wrong with this, until it becomes an issue of necessity and primarily for mothers who are forced out of their newborn nest far too early for both their health and their babies. So we return then to that point, the health of our Mothers. I am holding the vision that soon our society will remember the importance of a woman's mental, physical, and emotional well-being and how her post-birth journey impacts these states immensely. There is long term implications for a woman to be hurried through her unique healing journey and the effects on the newborn can show up in numerous ways from colic to indigestion, night tremors, bed-wetting, and everything in between.
It seems that the most radical thing to do is BE the mother our society is trying to push out of the picture. To the vast spectrum of mothering, lets add to the canvas the portrait of a mother who is wild and free beyond any limiting expectations of our modern day society. She questions the modern day approach, and instead tunes into her own intuition. She knows she owes no explanation for her decisions so long as they grow her child and herself in a healthy and strong way. This wild mother is abundant, resourceful, and supported, because her community recognizes her vital role. This vision is the fuel in my work and I dedicate my life to serving women in this way. I applaud all the services and resources that are sprouting up that support this vision and I see us growing stronger in this movement. The return of Mother.