Many a woman has confessed to me she feels guilty: “I know I shouldn’t, but I do it anyway. I scream, yell, get angry and then accuse only to feel terrible later. I’ve got to be a better mother! If I keep this up I know that by the time s/he is a teenager, it’s gonna be over. My kid won’t even want to be with me.”
My response is compassionate but I hold no punches. The stakes are high. So be forewarned. What follows may be upsetting to the you that you think you are.
You are not separate from the child before you. What you say and do to him or her, you say and do to yourself. You awaken to this truth as you are required to know it. The sooner you stop resisting the process of mothering, the simpler it’ll become. Some of you say it’s too much, too hard. Nonsense! The power in you is greater than anything you’re facing. The real issue is your unwillingness to align with true power and move out of fear. Fear is weak and not very smart. Don’t let it keep you from mothering well.
There are two things you need to know:
1) You are a powerful being;
2) You must learn to manage the power you are.
There is no mystery to mothering well. It is simply a function of listening — multidimensional, bifocal listening from the deep well within you (which is why I like to call it mothering well).
Whenever I’ve asked a woman what her deepest wisdom wanted her to do in a past encounter she is currently feeling guilty about, without fail, she knows. But she didn’t listen to herself and act upon her knowing. She allowed herself to be hijacked by negative emotion.
I call this wisdom Wild-Wise Woman. I hear her in me and I hear her in women who come to me for counsel about their own lives. The great feminist philosopher and theologian Mary Daly initiated me through her books to be receptive to the she that I hear and call Wild-Wise Woman. She taught me that to be Wild-Wise is to know how to survive in the wilderness of the female soul, to see with Wild Eyes from the Great Inner Eye / I asking the deepest whys about the wildness of women’s selves, and to allow guidance given with a sense of direction while traversing the patriarchy.
Listening to children can lead us to Wild-Wise Woman. And mothering well demands listening to children who are actually mighty souls in little bodies needing consistent care and wise stewards over time. So attempting to coerce or control a child needs to be named for what it is: a mismanagement of power by an adult unwilling to listen.
Every child comes with their own set of challenges, to be sure, but mothering well is only ever about holding a sacred space for these souls, and being a conduit for love. That’s it. If we feel disappointment, confusion, and inner chaos when our children don’t live up to who we think they need to be, then it’s actually an opportunity to clear the fear from our own body.
This is how life sets us up to learn what needs to be learned in service to the ever-unfolding soul of humanity. It’s never about the child. It’s about our inability to manage the power of our own soul. And the call to mother is the most impersonal act of intimacy that shows us where we need to grow if we want to be truly empowered women. And who doesn’t want that?
Women ask me for tools and tactics because they want a way out of what is facing them in their mothering role. It’s not easy, I know. But stop abusing the power you have as mother. Most of what is called parenting is actually manipulation aimed at getting kids to be and do what we want them to. These power plays are not the way of love. They are ways to perpetuate cycles of abuse that will come back to haunt, and guilt is one of the signatures of that haunting.
When a woman is unwilling and unable to hold the power coursing through her in response to a child, she usually believes herself entitled to yell, demand, accuse, and abuse the child or children in her custody. Entitlement is not power. Entitlement is fear masked as power.
It is, in fact, the demonstration of a disempowered woman and kids can sense her a mile away! Yet she will act upon the world as though she is in command without realizing that she is entirely lost to herself. Most children are infinitely patient with entitled mothers and see us clearly. It is this dynamic of clear-seeing that drives a woman crazy.
Why won’t my kid listen to me? Why does s/he keep doing this to me?
This is the song of the victim of woman singing from the lowest station of her life experience and refusing to lay claim to her true power because she is not listening to what her children are gifting her with the opportunity to learn.
If there is one tool I can offer it is this: See the child as a mirror and a teacher of the highest order. It will turn your world upside-down and this will serve you well. You will be pulled into the presence of something greater, and it is from here that you may be taught, guided, and guarded against mismanagement of your own power.
It is helpful to see every interaction with a child as a power calculation.
Am I trying to get power? Where am I losing power? What makes me think my child has power that I don’t? Why would I want to take my child’s power away from them? How is it right in my mind to fear empowering my own child?
Learning to be generous with power is a function of love. Where there is no fear, love naturally prevails. Love is the outpouring of spirit, the givingness of life, the great transforming power infusing all that is. It is the constricted heart that holds back in fear believing if too much is given, if too much is seen, if too much is allowed then all hell might break loose. Nothing could be further from the truth!
With awareness, all trials and tribulations can be transposed, transmuted, and transformed into loving light with clear mothering presence. This is the very essence of the mothering contract. It is an opportunity to learn the truth of life and your power in it.
So stop yelling and feeling guilty. There is a mighty mother in you wanting to wield power with tender care and great wisdom. She holds you accountable to the whole of life and is always watching — for every deed done will return to your experience if not done in love.
A clear conscience means that when your children leave the house of your mothering, you know they’ve been mothered well. Their souls and encounters with life will take care of the rest.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
This post has been republished to Medium.