Becoming mother is one of the most significant transformations of self growth a woman will ever go through. Part of our experience as human beings – regardless of whether we’re parents or not – is evolving and re-making ourselves, through all the phases of our lives. For this reason, I am hesitant to use the terminology of ‘self growth’ because I think that is something we’re always in a process of engaging in. But mothering for me has meant constantly going through transformations that mirror the transformations my daughter experiences in her own growth. I have come to view and experience mothering as the ultimate catalyst for self growth.
Mothering as Transformation
Mothering has a way of pushing you to your absolute edges. You can experience the most intensely joyful and fulfilling moments of love, purpose, and meaning. But you can also be so tested, so pushed, that you feel like you’re at breaking point. It is this cycle of breaking and re-making that mothering can propel us into. But finding and exploring the idea of ‘conscious mothering’ or ‘conscious parenting’ has helped me to find greater meaning, strength, and purpose in the most challenging parts of motherhood.
Part of what we’re warned about before becoming mothers or when we’re pregnant is preparing for the onslaught of ‘boring’, ‘repetitive’ or ‘mind numbing’ tasks. The tasks that seemingly go along with mothering a baby and young child. Tasks like nappy changes, cleaning up mess, cooking, washing, and everything else associated in the domestic realm. There is a tonne of domestic and emotional labour that is associated with caregiving. That is not to say that this labour is women’s work (it shouldn’t only be, even we know that statistically, it is. Tune in to episode 3 of TGEM podcast to hear some stats on this).
Yes sometimes these tasks may feel mundane or repetitive. These are all important and taken for granted aspects of mothering-work that we need to make visible and acknowledge. They don’t always feel mundane and repetitive though, and they don’t HAVE to feel this way. I’m going to dive deeper into the ways we can transform our understandings and the value we place on these aspects of motherhood. But for now, what I want to do is put these tasks of mothering aside and talk about what becoming a mother can mean beyond the immediate demands of caregiving. ⠀⠀
The task of mothering is one that is a psychologically intense task of nourishing, equipping, and encouraging the blossoming of another human being. We are simultaneously held responsible for their development and flourishing while also being required to release them into a world that we have no control over. This responsibility and process is one that transforms us just as much as it transforms our children.
What I’m talking about here is conscious mothering. If you’ve never heard of this term before, you’re probably wondering what ‘conscious mothering’ means? Does it erupt an image of a calm, intuitive, perfect Mum who does yoga, eats organically, never yells, and glides through motherhood? Remember to shatter that illusion: the perfect mother does not exist.
Conscious parenting is not about perfection.
It is not about pretending you are a spirituality guru.
It is not about judging yourself.
What it is about, is this…
Letting parenthood catapult us into a greater awareness of ourselves, and the world around us.
Surrendering to what ‘is’ rather than being in a process of constantly trying to change and work against where we find ourselves and our children.
Learning from our children as much as they learn from us.
Becoming conscious of our own thoughts, behaviours, history, and values.
Living presently to appreciate and be comfortable with who WE are as individuals.
Our job is not to mould our children into who we imagined or want them to be.
Our job is to model for them a person who is living their own lives to their highest potential, who can value and live within the present moment without always getting entangled in the past or yearning for the future.
Conscious parenting means working on ourselves and going through our own internal transformations in order to guide and support our children. There is a focus on our internal world as the marker of disruption or challenge, rather than the child. On connecting with our child and peeling back layers of behaviour to see the underlying emotion our child is working through, rather than resorting to traditional methods of discipline and punishment/rewards.
We relinquish control when we realize our children are not an object for us to dominate, but who are actually giving us opportunities to cultivate deeper connections in our world.
Are you the mother of a toddler?
Join my Transforming Toddler Tantrums Course to learn how to respond to toddler tantrums as a conscious parent.
Dr Shefali Tsabury
Here are some of my favourite quotes from Dr Tsabary:
- “When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a ‘mini me,’ but a spirit throbbing with its own signature. For this reason, it’s important to separate who you are from who each of your children is. Children aren’t ours to possess or own in any way. When we know this in the depths of our soul, we tailor our raising of them to their needs, rather than molding them to fit our needs.”
- “It’s no surprise we fail to tune into our children’s essence. How can we listen to them, when so many of us barely listen to ourselves? How can we feel their spirit and hear the beat of their heart if we can’t do this in our own life?”
- “Because children are essentially good, when we see a child hit, it ought to evoke in us an empathic response such as, ‘What pain they must be in to feel the need to hit’.”
- “Often it’s the adjustment of our expectations, rather than reality itself, that’s the hurdle we have to leap.”
One of the quotes that most resonates for me, and that I think about almost daily is that “our children are spirits throbbing with their own signature.” I think of that as I beat to my daughter’s rhythm and she pulsates in response to my energy. This is something I was told and have learnt through the wonderful coaching and teachings of Julie Tenner, owner of The Pleasure Nutritionist and co-founder with Bridget Wood of Nourishing the Mother who are an amazing duo who talk all things conscious mothering.
Using Conscious Mothering
Does this way of seeing the world resonate for you? They don’t have to, of course. Even if they do, I am resistant to the idea of dogmatically following any type of philosophy – especially when it comes to parenting.
But what comes from understanding and exploring conscious mothering as a parenting paradigm is releasing the pressured focus we have on shaping our children, and seeing motherhood as a catalyst for self-growth and transformation, that will ultimately allow us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be for our children.
As parents we can model and therefore infuse in our children the values, tools, and self-love that will encourage and facilitate their own ‘becoming’ in a world that is inherently complex and difficult. Herein lies the reason why the work mothering is so challenging, but also why it is THE most important and powerful work in our world (and yes you can engage in mothering work without being a biological mother – men too).
The work of mothering has the potential to change ourselves and therefore our world, our culture, and our society.
Want to learn how to support toddlers through tantrums from a conscious parenting perspective? Join my Transforming Toddler Tantrums Course to learn more.