Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Catalyst for Change

We are the ones we have been waiting for.
-Hopi Prayer.

Mary Alice, again, has roused me to reply to her blog with a blog myself. I have also used the quote that she used on her blog because this perfectly, I feel, pertains to the issue. This is, obviously, a topic close to my heart.

Yes, identity is difficult as you change through life. One’s roles are always in flux and those Saturn returns (which also happen every seven years or so) are very difficult to go through no matter how diligently we have given ourselves what we needed to grow and stay connected. Change is no respecter of self-awareness; it throws it out the window to start fresh, to change. With motherhood this change is dramatic. The center of the universe shifts from ourselves to our children and it’s difficult to maintain a strong center during this shift and not lose yourself completely. The rhythms that make up a mother’s day can feel like imploding, it is such a closed and constant and personal rhythm.

That is why I started blogging, so that I could connect with others, not just my friends and family, to make friends with a larger world to keep mine open and me open in the only way I knew how within the constraints of being a stay-at-home mom. I think that this is one of the main keys to maintaining equilibrium through the changes of motherhood: doing what you need to do to maintain YOU. And that is the tricky part, making sure that you honor and respect your needs and give yourself what you need to make it through the changes intact.

Your identity will change; you are changed. I think that this is what is particularly brilliant about life: growing. Everything on earth grows and changes and so do we—we are continually called upon to grow as we define ourselves against an ever-changing backdrop that is our life--identity changes because we juxtapose our identity with life, and life is always changing.

You have to know yourself to make it through these changes. Our landscape changes and we are called to ask, what does this new backdrop accentuate in me? How does this change the way I think, feel, and act? How does this new circumstance define me? If you don’t know yourself, you will, you will have to; life necessitates it. Those shifting times when I feel like I am driving in neutral are necessary and uncomfortable. Someone once said that you have to lose yourself to find yourself and it is so true.

These defining identity issues are not unique to parenthood. Becoming a mother is just one set of circumstances that allow you to evolve and change. Evolution of self is not unique to motherhood; identity is unique to selfhood. Motherhood is just one way, one set of circumstances, in which it occurs.

My final thought on the topic is that it is much easier (I find) to get through change if you don’t take it all too seriously--least of all yourself. If life up to this point has taught me anything, it is to not take myself so seriously; to laugh at life and myself and try to go with it as much as possible and enjoy it as much as possible. I try to do this every day as much as I can. Sometimes I fail miserably, and sometimes I am wildly successful, but through it all I am myself and the more I honor that, the easier it gets. I think that there is an inner knowing, a voice inside you that helps—especially when you honor it. And I think that if we listened to it and acted on its wisdom that we would realize that we are, indeed, the one we have been waiting for…that we have been all along. That life has been slowly washing away excess ego to allow our real self to shine through and inspire others to be themselves, too. That it is not only okay, but meant to be.



Mary Alice said...

Piaget theorists term it disequilibrium - that sort of mental discomfort that causes children to reexamine their current understanding of a situation and perhaps create a completely new scheme to utilize the new information. I think that we never outgrow the usefulness or discomfort of disequilibrium.

Domestically Challenged said...

Why do people expect to stop growing up just because they have hit a certain age?
You are quite right...we keep growing up....

I also think it's a cup half full / empty situation - my mother in law declares with glee "I'm growing old disgracefully!" she sees it as change but also an opportunity, a chance to do something different, learn something new. She loved having her babies, and being at home...but equally is having a ball now.

The trouble is - when we are in the midst of that SAHM moment, we are also the most exhausted, sleep deprived, mentally unfulfilled we have ever been, so it's tricky to have a good perspective...

Then the girls went to school, I suddenly had empty nest syndrome...and realised all those challenging moments hadn't been so very bad!

You are what you want to be...and Jo from I have seen so far, and reading what an amazing sis you have in Mary's not going to very long at all before you find the new you!

Domestically Challenged said...

I found this...
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
Soren Aabye Kierkegaard


JCK said...

O.K., you two sisters are something else. I love what you said here, and Mary Alice has indeed been a springboard, as I knew she would be - something that I love about connecting with each other via blogs.

Didn't Obama use that Hopi Prayer "We are the ones we have been waiting for" the other night? I think so. It is a powerful statement.

Honoring and respecting your needs is tricky. Especially balancing children and a husband, who often gets the least of it - after you start feeding your soul.

AuthorMomWithDogs said...

Jo, I think reaching out via your blog is brilliant. I wish such a vehicle existed when my daughter was small. I had her late in life, and so got to have a midlife crisis on top of an identity crisis! LOL! And, being older, none of my friends had small children, so I was very much alone in that regard. Not LOL.

I think that as long as you keep thinking, and remembering to ask yourself these questions, and reaching out to others who understand, you'll navigate through the churning waters just fine.

Anonymous said...

Children are such a great way to remind ourselves, in a reeling, slap-in-the-face sort of way, that we are connected with this nature, and at the same time, that we must let go of our nature - our "selves." I think parenthood is an incredible teacher, in that it helps us to give in to freedom, and allows us to let go of ourselves for another. In our surrender, we realize just who we are, and also who we aren't.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - I hope that comment I just wrote made sense. I'm extremely tired right now, and after reading it over, am not sure that I was clear at all. My apologies for any confusion or bemusement!

(Sleep deprivation from a wee one arising four or five times last night...)

Jo said...

Ophelia Rising:
Your thoughts totally made sense to me! I think the same that there is an amazing strength that comes with giving over your ego as you do in parenthood. It puts things in perspective and allows you to be looser in your life when you take things less seriously (getting perspective.

Jo said...

Thanks for the quote, Hen! I love quotes!

Jo said...

Thank you for the words of support...blogging has been a real lifting for me thanks to other blogger like you!