Mama Mia: Here I Go Again

by Sarah Davis, B.BSc, Grad Dip Applied Psychology, Australia

I have had many conversations recently with women about mothering. It has been truly lovely to connect and share openly – learning from each other’s reflections and supporting each other through honesty and inspiration. I find that the more honest I can be about how I have ‘approached’ motherhood, the more awareness I bring to how I have been living as a woman and how my body feels as a result of my choices. Often we share very similar accounts of the demands and ‘exhaustion’ of motherhood, as well as the intense ‘needs’ from our children, partners and society – well, as least that is how the conversation starts. Lately, these conversations have felt truly honest and inspiring as we explore more deeply ourselves as women within this experience and ‘dynamic’ of motherhood; the understanding that is developing is deeply inspiring and loving. Central to this unfolding is a claiming of our responsibility to make self-loving choices, and a commitment to self; basically that the ‘drama of motherhood’ is often a result of our own disregard and lack of self-worth – to the total detriment of our body and quality of relationships we adopt the maxim, the ‘tougher we do it’ the ‘better’ and ‘more committed’ mother we are. Correct?

There has been much open discussion within the Esoteric Women’s community about what it means to truly live as a woman. I personally have felt deeply supported and inspired to build my awareness of how I have been living, to feel my body and re-connect to my true nature as a woman; this has been achieved through attending Esoteric Women’s Presentations held by Natalie Benhayon, as well as healing sessions which include Esoteric Breast Massage and Ovary Massage. I have found the Women in Livingness blog to also present a fantastic forum for sharing our experiences as women, with the opening article by Rebecca Baldwin ‘Modern Woman’ – a product of society or of her own true nature?, setting up the intention of the blog beautifully.

With this level of support I have reflected on my life to develop an understanding of how I too, as a mother, got to this point of exhaustion as the ‘committed mother’. Firstly, I feel this occurred because I actually had no previous ‘marker’ or ‘reference point’ for what it felt to truly be a woman – and so mothering became a ‘false marker’ – that is to say, I ‘put all my balls in the one court’, so to speak. From school, sport, to academia I had lived in a very masculine energy and ‘achieved’ through this. From the moment I became pregnant I felt different – I felt a softness and tenderness in my body; my breasts became larger and I loved the feeling in my body of being more feminine. When pregnant, people and society expect you to slow down – this would have been the first time in my life that I slowed down, it was awesome. Combined with the ‘intimacy’ of breastfeeding, the cuteness of babies and how much they needed me, I became overly identified with this as ‘who I was as a woman’ instead of mothering being another experience of myself as a woman – as I really had no other experience in my life of connecting to stillness and femaleness – so mothering became the benchmark. As well as the feeling of stillness that came with pregnancy, what drove my identification with mothering was the belief that ‘a mother’ was the ultimate way to be a woman; I believed that the role of mother would give me what I had always deep down wanted – recognition as a woman.

Nowadays, as I have re-built a foundation of connecting to and honouring myself through loving choices, I feel the difference between identifying myself as a mother, and lending a part of myself (large as it is) to mothering; the difference may sound subtle, but to me they are worlds apart. Previously, I mothered and lived from a place of over-identifying with the role because I believed that this was what it meant to be a woman. My relationships suffered because of this – because I was not bringing the full ‘me’ to the world. Whilst on the surface I had many friends and ‘happy’ children, I always felt disconnected and isolated… and I know that my children noticed this also. How confusing for them to see this ‘achieving and good mother ticking all the boxes’ who carried an energy of sadness, exhaustion and overwhelm.

Secondly, this ‘martyrdom’ was due to my identification with what I ‘do’ and the need for recognition of this: rather than seeing myself as already enough, I used how well I ‘did’ motherhood as a way to ‘value’ myself and ‘get love’ from others.

This is no surprise as this was a theme throughout my life: at school I performed to satisfy parents, teachers and society and I was rewarded for this; in sport I excelled and was given the label ‘elite’ which recognised me above others; in academia I achieved and was given status… motherhood really was just an extension of this momentum. I ‘did life’ with an intensity and drive that had previously been rewarded as successful, so it was natural that I ‘did’ mothering in the same way, with a drive to succeed and get recognition. This would take the form of ‘happy’, ‘fed’, ‘inspired’ children and a ‘clean house’.  The thing was, I was not in-truth bringing me to my relationship with my children, husband or the world – I was hiding in the ‘intense demands’ of mothering: it was like I was saying “don’t try to connect to the real me ’cause I am too busy for that… there are dishes to be done, beds to make, lunches to pack etc.”. I now see that this was an excuse for me to not feel what was inside – an emptiness and disregard. I had run away from this all of my life, and motherhood had become my latest treadmill.

My kids for the most part got to experience a person (me) in ‘auto drive’, always with the end result in mind – ‘get them fed’, ‘get the house clean’, ‘get them to their friends’ house for a play’, ‘get them to bed’…  This would always lead to exhaustion as I was not connecting to me first, which would have allowed me to feel and respond to my body, and also to others. I would ‘go hard’ from the moment I was up until the moment the kids went to sleep – then I would crash and my unlucky husband would get to ‘share’ the evening with me – really it wasn’t sharing at all as I made everything about me and getting my needs met at that point because I had neglected them the entire day. Instead of feeling it, I would hold on to my anger and frustration and let it build up during the day, only to ‘unleash’ it on my husband – he only had to look at me the ‘wrong’ way. I would often be irritable at night – living a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ situation where I was this ‘loving’ and ‘enthusiastic’ mother by day and ‘angry beast’ by night. I do indulge using this metaphor somewhat, though it is not far from the truth. I remember how I would repeat again and again how my husband had ‘let me down’ and not ‘supported me’; this could all be over a damp towel he had left on the ground from his shower, an unmet expectation, or simply not paying enough attention to me or giving me the response I wanted. In-truth, I had not supported myself the entire day with any kind of moment to stop and feel, and instead of taking responsibility for creating this momentum I would blame others for my feelings.  I also used this drama to avoid intimacy with my husband – I felt little connection to myself from the driven and emotional way I had lived my day – and to connect with him meant I needed to feel the momentum of energy I was in. I would rarely choose this level of responsibility – it was much easier to have a fight. The other way I would be with my husband was to make him the focus or centre of my attention, as I had done with the children throughout the day. This didn’t bring satisfaction to either of us – with him often ignoring me as he felt my ‘neediness’, and me pushing harder and harder for recognition, “look at how much I am willing to do for you”….

Anything I did do for myself was usually around food, to bring comfort and stimulate my energy levels which would drop fast throughout the day. The more tired I got, the more likely I was to yell and blame others for making life hard for me… oh what a very dramatic and old story it became! I was trying so hard to keep up ‘pretences’, to look as though I was coping, that I rarely considered opening up to another woman and sharing with her my true feelings. I knew I had the best of intentions and that I loved my children and husband – though my feelings of overwhelm and desperation continued.

Our ‘stories’, patterns, beliefs and ideals continue unless we firstly bring honesty and awareness to how we are living; (or as I later learnt it) the quality of our livingness. I was honest enough to be looking for this awareness as I was willing to begin to feel the hurt, pain and separation I was in, and the impact this had on my family, and others in general. I remember that one of the first things I read from Universal Medicine was a line in a pamphlet which talked about the possible benefits of a healing course for our family and friends. I could feel the truth of this possibility and I have personally experienced the power of taking responsibility and choosing to heal and reclaim myself as a woman first. This has brought, and continues to bring, loving change to my life, and through inspiration and reflection, to the lives of others around me. Nowadays I am feeling the natural effect in my family of what happens when I come from my wholeness and simply be as a woman– my husband loves it and my kids have become more playful and open with me.

I am enjoying being with myself more every day, as well as experiencing more love, joy and playfulness in our family than I could have imagined possible. Instead of my day feeling like I am in a tunnel with a train coming towards me, I feel like I am on board in a very cosy cabin enjoying the ride. As I am re-connecting to my true self as a woman, I naturally let the world in and am open to truly loving connections with others – is this not something we all want?

This process of learning to honour ourselves as women and the changes that occur is worthy of much continued conversation….

290 thoughts on “Mama Mia: Here I Go Again

  1. Thank you Sarah, I enjoyed reading this so much, every word an honesty that we so rarely share as women. “… rather than seeing myself as already enough, I used how well I ‘did’ motherhood as a way to ‘value’ myself and ‘get love’ from others.” Reading this line I was reflecting on how insidious the belief is that “I am not enough / I am not good enough”, surely it’s one of the worst ones and devastates many people of all ages. We have such little focus on the simple person within us being enough, it’s all about what we produce and our output, to me that’s why life feels so empty because we are missing within it. Thanks so much for everything you’ve shared, be great to get a book out of you, I could have kept reading!

  2. If we as parents truly care about our children then doesn’t it make sense that we care about ourselves first. The more I become aware of the impact caring and love for myself has on me and the way I go go about life, the more I see for myself the impact this has on my family… this is what I call love.

  3. As women we can only truly support each other when we are willing to open up and look at the expectations we have placed on ourselves when we become mothers and feel we have to live up to pictures of how the ‘perfect’ mother would do it. I can remember feeling scared of getting found out because I felt like a fraud so much of the time and it was only when I started to explore some of the unloving ways I was treating myself that this started to change and I let go of so much of the seriousness of getting it right and reconnected to the joy of living in the moment rather than ticking boxes. This then allows those around us the space to be who they are and have fun together.

  4. This article was an absolute lightbulb moment for me. How women could identify with their mother role I knew, but that women also feel that while being pregnant is what it feels like as a true woman, is new for me. Now I understand why women put so much importance on being pregnant.

  5. When I became a parent I had no idea what I was doing. All the ideals and beliefs of what it meant to be a good mother kicked in and I just did my best at that time. Always looking at others to see if they had the answers and overriding my own feelings as to what was right for my children. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would listen to myself more and not worry too much about what others think about me or my children.

  6. Placing the ‘doing’ before the ‘being’ is a perfect set up or game we play that can keep us in a cycle of exhaustion and feeling drained, worn out, sadness and resentful, a cycle that is of our own making to keep us small and contracted. But when we begin to be aware of the momentum of the ‘doing’ whether it is in mothering or in some other area of our lives such as our work we see the ‘doing’ is not it and we begin to make changes where our connection to our being becomes our focus and eventually the ‘norm’ – a work in progress but never-the-less a necessary one in our unfolding to living the vitality and truth of who we are.

  7. When we open ourselves to others and share what and how we feel, we find that we are not alone in what we are experiencing. Then it’s easier to change what is needed or simply allow the support and understanding to come our way.

  8. I too was caught up in mothering, this was who I was, this I thought was me, I could hide in the mothering role and not be responsible for what i was truly feeling, I am now learning to mother myself, and with loving care I am learning how to be a woman first and foremost, before any roles.

  9. Honoring ourselves as women…. today I felt how the karma is there to deal with for all the time I was not honoring myself and giving my power away to men. Working myself to that old pattern to get back to the sacredness which I hold inside me.

  10. Great to have this honest conversation about what we choose when we take on the role as mother, and it can come subtle and veiled or it can come with the big guns….”where I was this ‘loving’ and ‘enthusiastic’ mother by day and ‘angry beast’ by night.” either way it is the same, just carrying levels and we can distract ourselves for some time by taking on the role and not being with ourselves as a woman first.

  11. I love how you share about why you ‘loved’ mothering as when pregnant it gave a moment to be tender and delicate and to be allowed to be more feminine and sensitive by the world. It also explained why so many women love to be mothering as the can be tender and delicate without being seen as week and over-sensitive. This really shows that the way we are as a woman is not our true way and as a result also society is not honoring the natural delicacy and tenderness that is so evidently true for women to be in.

    1. Beautifully shared Joseph, you have summed up one of the big illusions so many subscribe to, and the power we have to make life hard… or gentle and loving.

  12. Beautiful Sarah, this was like reading my life as a mother some many distant years ago now . . . thanks for giving me the opportunity to laugh at what was once a very real drama or so I thought at the time. Enter side stage the understanding that I need to connect and listen to my body and go with what it is telling me and everything turns around . . . diet, sleep patterns, relationships, bad habits drop away as does irritation and frustration so the whole family benefits. Just how you have found out for yourself and today you are thriving.

  13. A great sharing of how living from the whole you as a woman, the quality of your livingness and honesty make such a difference to yourself and the family, ‘I am enjoying being with myself more every day, as well as experiencing more love, joy and playfulness in our family than I could have imagined possible.’

  14. This process of learning to honour ourselves as women can take some time if as with many of us women we have had years of doing the opposite, small steps daily can make all the difference.

  15. The markers are often what can be the foundation to fall back on and remind us of how we have moved from this. As mothers is can be such a downhill slide from recognising what the marker is when they have not been full founded as a woman first.

  16. With this way of motherhood we also run away from intimacy with ourselves and our partners …and our children.
    We have to be in this connection in our heart in our body to connect truly with others. If we come from ‘our head’ we just bring mental forces and control life.
    It is to surrender…

  17. Martyrdom is an absolute unnecessary result of not accepting the love we are and the ease in which life just happens when do try to control it.

  18. Gosh, it is so true – and beautifully written here – that the drama of motherhood is not an innate part of mothering, but rather something that is imposed upon it, clouding our view of how simple and sweet raising people can be.

    1. When we connect to ourselves the drama becomes unnecessary because we were only using it as a shield to hide behind and not let anyone see our true tender nature.

  19. I agree Sam, it essential we appreciate, accept, love and value ourselves, ‘Appreciating ourselves, accepting ourselves and valuing the love we are is the only way to go if we want to live a truly marvellous life.’

  20. When we use anything whether it is motherhood or something else to prove our worth we are treading a joyless exhausting path. Appreciating ourselves, accepting ourselves and valuing the love we are is the only way to go if we want to live a truly marvellous life.

    1. Wise words and something many of us have done, we get caught up in an idea of who we are, rather than being who we are in truth….”When we use anything whether it is motherhood or something else to prove our worth we are treading a joyless exhausting path. ” We can get lost on this path and it is only when we are honest about how this path feels that we can choose to turn around and choose another way.

  21. “Previously, I mothered and lived from a place of over-identifying with the role because I believed that this was what it meant to be a woman.” Being identified with what we do is how we have lost our innate knowing of what it is to be a woman….in the doing we loose our delicateness and nurturing qualities, it doesn’t sound huge when we write it down but when we live it the differences are huge and the gap very wide.

    1. Yes Alison I agree, we harden our body through the seeking of recognition outside of ourselves and this becomes a way of life to purposely avoid and suppress the delicateness, tenderness and gentleness that are the natural qualities inherent within a woman and a man.

  22. I recognise this statement “don’t try to connect to the real me ’cause I am too busy for that… there are dishes to be done, beds to make, lunches to pack etc.” and fell for this one hook line and sinker.

  23. To be a true mother involves us connecting to, and continually nurturing our sacredness as women, and this in turn will allow our nurturing qualities to emanate which will embrace all whom we come in contact with.

  24. “… a claiming of our responsibility to make self-loving choices, and a commitment to self; basically that the ‘drama of motherhood’ is often a result of our own disregard and lack of self-worth – to the total detriment of our body and quality of relationships ….” I so agree Sarah. When bringing up two small boys on my own there was almost a competition with friends about ‘aint it awful’….. Giving myself time and space – for me – was unheard of – and thought to be selfish. How differently i would do it all now. Giving oneself over to ones children was thought to be good mothering, yet if the mother in question is totally exhausted that is an impossibility.

  25. Yes, there is often a berating of those around us and the imposition of their demands on us as women that we can make an excuse for not addressing what we bring to both our own relationship and our relationship with others.

  26. We want to connect with all others but are less interested to re-connect with ourselves. We can even use all our children or other demands or helping to distract us from feeling ourselves and our bodies. But I notice that there is a tendency that we as women see that It is not working. We get exhausted and want space for us.
    The Way of The Livingness is the key in the return to ourselves.

  27. ” and motherhood had become my latest treadmill. ” Thank you Sara , this is the best way ever I have heard how woman uses the fact that they can physically be mother , and use that then to abuse their body and justify it so because they are a mother.

  28. There is a huge difference between, thinking I am a mother this is what I do, and I am a Woman first and I am a mother as well. Getting attached and identifying to what we do, offers us a weak foundation to live upon, how can we care for the women when we ignore her and spend out time doing role of a mother.

  29. Being mother is like being a child. We are constantly learning, getting rid of the imposed limitations of our roles, and opening from/to the immense possibilities we have as women beings…

    1. mmm I hadn’t considered that but yes, we are constantly learning what ideals and beliefs we have bought into and then working to figure out how to live up to them or to break out of them.

    2. Amparo, how cute, “women beings”, I haven’t seen that term before! It feels gorgeous, tender and very delicate.

  30. Everyone misses out when we get caught up in ‘doing’ motherhood and the process of learning to honour ourselves as women in definitely worthy of many ongoing conversations. As we reconnect to our innate wisdom and learn to take care of ourselves we can support each other in this and become role models for everyone.

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