Shifting from me – a hierarchical household of “my rules, my house” — to we — a shared partnership — began a new kind of mothering for me.
Top-Down Mothering Through the Generations
I’m the mother of Olivia and Stella, the daughter of Corrine, and the granddaughter of Ramah — a bloodline rich with strong yet soft feminine energy. In our family, mothering was a top-down, a fairly common hierarchical household of “my house, my rules”. I was happy and thrived in my childhood home and carried forward what I’d experienced when it was time to mother my own children without any thought. It wasn’t until I found myself struggling with the constant and intense rebellion of my daughter, Olivia,that I began to think about my mothering.
Whose Behavior Has to Go?
Of course I wanted Olivia’s rebellious behavior to stop. It wasn’t right, I told myself, because this is my house and these are my rules. But nothing seemed to work.
So I started to think about my behavior and for the first time saw my “top down” mothering style. I wondered if my style had been too contracted and limiting for her spirit. Focusing on my behavior was when I grew up as an individual and a mother and everything started to change.
The Importance of Reflection
If I was ever going to truly “hear and see” Olivia, I needed to hear and see myself. So, I spent time reflecting not only on my mothering style, but the other beliefs, behaviors and patterns that I brought to the table. Every disagreement was an opportunity to explore some more. I realized what I inherited unwittingly from my family, what I’d absorbed from our culture, and what I took as truth because friends and people I respected said it was so. Reflecting allowed me to see this and then decide what was true for me.
Self-Care + Personal Boundaries = Freedom
What I found to be true was that my own self-care was the most important gift that I could give as a mother. Taking care of me meant that I had energy to create solid boundaries for myself. Solid boundaries gave me the space to be aware of what I was feeling, to know when old beliefs and patterns were creeping in and then decide if that’s how I wanted to show up as a mother. Interestingly, its my solid boundaries that create space for my daughters to freely explore and discover who they are.
My self-care routine is the pillar of my mothering: yoga, meditation, journaling, prayer, nature walks, and a clean diet. After many years on this path I’ve found that I’m less reactive and often choose more responsible words and actions. I’m softer, more open and more receptive. I still get frustrated and angry at times, but I return to my center more quickly. I apologize on the spot and ask the girls how I can be better for them. I teach my daughters by living what I believe to be true.
Shift from Me to We
It was the shift from me – a hierarchical household of my rules, my house, — to we, a shared household partnership where all of us focus on supporting individual self-care, boundaries and freedom — that began a new kind of mothering for me. One where I see the privilege of serving and honoring another human being’s journey, while still honoring my own.
Around the time of my “growing up” as a mother, I came across this quote that really hit home for how I feel:
“…They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you they belong not to you…”~ Kahlil Gibran
I bow to my mother, Corrine, whose top-down mothering style worked beautifully for me. And I bow to my daughter, Olivia, whose rebellion has been one of my greatest teachers.