"Sadly our culture teaches us that pregnancy and motherhood are a time to forget ourselves. That once baby arrives, we no longer matter...but the person you were before motherhood is not forgotten, she is enlivened. This mother will bring her whole self to the journey, not just the pieces that society deems acceptable or necessary. Motherhood is the time to step fully into the highest version of yourself, your highest power, and in that courageous choice the mother is initiated."
On my journey to new motherhood I read a lot of books. Like many women I became even more hungry for knowledge and devoured every recommendation along the way. I am a lifelong learner, curious to a fault, and not so secretly attached to the idea that knowledge will give me some sense of control. But motherhood, starting with the fertility experience and eventually a viable pregnancy, first and foremost teaches us to let go of our need to control both the experience and the outcome. This is the penultimate lesson in parenthood, and it starts from the very beginning.
Over the course of two years as my fertility, pregnancy and motherhood path took shape, my research deepened, and I was amazed to learn how indigenous cultures send their men on vision quests because men, unlike women, do not experience a visceral initiation into adulthood. I knew about the rights of passage young men experience in these cultures but I did not know they were linked to a woman’s experience of pregnancy and birth.
Women naturally experience an initiation, a life altering transformation, by carrying a child and delivering that child out of their bodies into the world. The physical and emotional toll, the pain and joy, the stamina and endurance, are not replicated in men’s physiology.
To compensate for this lack, many cultures have simulated ways for young men to experience a similar initiation into adulthood. Often these young men are sent out into nature, left alone to experience exposure to harsh climates, are given plant medicine to induce confronting hallucinations, or have their bodies pierced, tattooed or mutilated to mirror the physical pain of labor and delivery. This discovery marked a moment of awakening for me. In a new way I realized the power of being a woman. I felt inspired and strengthened.
Growing up no one ever told me how powerful my body was. Instead, as most western women, I was raised in a culture that taught me my body was a burden. Having a period, menstrual cramps, cervical fluid, pregnancy scares and eventually menopause were all things to be ashamed of, frustrated about or hidden. Being a woman meant living with a continuous, pervasive fear that at any moment my body could be taken advantage of, raped or abused. I grew up believing that this body, my womanhood, was less than ideal and more often than not, a hassle.
The journey to motherhood awakened within me a sense of awe. I had never once realized how incredible my body, a woman’s body, truly was. My body comes equipped with a natural cycle that detoxifies and eliminates, a cycle that is keyed off of the moon, natural light, and other women. My body can create life, and once that life is born, my body will create the food necessary to sustain that life.
My initiation into motherhood taught me reverence for the vessel I am experiencing life through, the vessel of the female body. And now, as mother to a daughter, I have a new perspective on how I want to instill admiration, respect and awe for all her body is capable of. We will celebrate her womanhood, not diminish or deny it.
This is the beginning of Initiating the Mother - awakening to your true power and strength. When calling in a child, you are calling in your greatest teacher. Sadly our culture also teaches us that pregnancy and motherhood are a time to forget ourselves. That once baby arrives, we no longer matter. The person we once were is to be closeted, forgotten and pushed to the side. Our needs, wants and desires are silenced and sacrificed for the life that is literally now in our hands.
Yes, on almost every conceivable level our lives will change. Our wants and desires may change as well. But motherhood holds the seeds to awaken your greatest potential. Your child will point you toward your most profound opportunities for spiritual work. Your child will show you where you are attached, reactive, caught in lifelong patterns that are no longer serving you in a positive way. Your child will demonstrate all the ways your love is conditional rather than unconditional. And if you are willing to show up, this work will push you toward your greatest evolution.
The person you were before motherhood is not forgotten, she is enlivened. You have birthed a child and now this child will birth a mother, one that is ready to lean-in to the challenges rather than retreat. This mother will bring her whole self to the journey, not just the pieces that society deems acceptable or necessary. Motherhood is the time to step fully into the highest version of yourself, your highest power, and in that courageous choice the Mother is initiated.
*For more information on "Initiating the Mother" and Lauren's new prenatal yoga program, click here.