I remember the moment I surrendered to motherhood. It must've been around 2am, trying to feed my 8 month old baby milk from my empty breasts to no avail.
By the time I had reached that point, I was already struggling with parental burnout, total exhaustion, zero confidence in my ability and a crushed spirit. Of course no one guessed this was going on for me, as I was putting a lot of effort into looking like I've got my shit together.
None of this was actually related to my baby, for she was just a baby doing what babies do. I don't blame myself (anymore), because I was in the trenches of it all and I didn't see a way out until that moment.
But what happened in that moment of surrender was nothing short of magical. In that very moment, I surrendered to life and to motherhood. I let go of my expectations, both for my child and for myself. It was one of those moments you hear about, Jesus take the wheel kind of thing. I was on my knees saying OK, I accept. Accept what? I don't know, but I'll have it all please.
I swear to you, the next morning, things started to change. The whole energy of our house was different. I was able to see cleary what the next steps were. For starters, I put my baby on formula and I went to therapy. She started sleeping through the night. There was less crying, too. I also dove deep into Jungian psychology (Jung found me by way of Divine intervention). What changed most was my own energy. Jung himself said what you resist, persists, and I think that because my second child was a girl, I felt a lot of pressure to be in-synch with her 100% of the time. I really just wanted her to love me. Because I know of so many mother-daughter relationships that went wrong, I desperately didn't want this to happen to us. In resisting the present moment and it's challenges, I was unconsciously creating a divide. Everytime she would cry, I felt like I was a terrible mother to her. Looking back, I was trying too hard to control every situation. I wanted things to be perfect so that our relationship would turn out perfect.
In that moment of surrender at 2am, I saw that I was going about it wrong. My daughter didn't need me to be perfect, nor did she need me to create a life that was without frustration. What she needed (and I think, what all children need) is yes, a loving parent, but also a parent who is able to hold the ship steady through the storm. Someone who is emotionally available, who is present, who has an open heart, and who is able to go with them in the darkest of places.
What I learned is that being present, and engaging with life on a soul level, rather than staying in my controlling and rigid ego, actually increased my capacity to connect with my children and to show up with more compassion. I believe she and I strengthened our relationship by way of me shifting my energy. When I decided to surrender to the present moment, I softened into the imperfection and unpredictability that is life. Now that I wasn't resisting what simply was, I had more energy, more patience and felt more joy. To speak in esoteric terms, I was vibrating at a much higher frequency, which had a ripple effect in my house but also in different aspects of my life. I'm not sure I would be here today had it not been for that moment at 2am...
I softened into the imperfection and unpredictability that is life.
As I write these words, I am reminded of her birth. Being my second, I already knew what I was doing, how things would feel...but above all else, I knew that I wanted her birth to be shorter than my first. Intuitively, I knew that the only way to speed things up was to surrender to the process. Instead of resisting the contractions and cursing (damn that 4 to 7cm stretch - no pun intended), I just let myself get carried away. I've never felt more empowered, embodied, and goddess-like in my entire life. Succombing to the pain, accepting the suffering and carrying on has a divine quality to it. Come to think about it, birth is the first lesson in surrender motherhood offers you, but it surely isn't the last.
On the spiritual path
Whether it's a lesson in surrender, compassion, patience or love, I am constantly reminded of the spiritual nature of motherhood. How it has this quality of taking you through the whole range of human emotions, sometimes all in the same hour. It also prompts you to surrender to life, to examine your values and beliefs and to expand your consciousness. And if you embrace it, if you allow yourself to be transformed by this experience, it can be a portal towards spiritual awakening. I know it was for me.
As Lisa Marchiano states so eloquently in her book Motherhood, Facing and Finding Yourself: "Developing a mature spirituality does not necessarily imply participating in formal religion. It does mean [...] to come to an understanding of our significance and place in the universe. Motherhood offers us an excellent opportunity to make sense of our place in the cosmos."
I believe that the act of surrender is a spiritual one through which we recognize that perhaps, our ego is not all there is. Perhaps, there is a something greater in which we can trust.
I believe there is.