5/25/19 On the Archetype of the Mother
I have been thinking about the face of the Mother. When we look at the triple Goddess we see the Maiden, Mother and Crone representing the different phases of our lives as women. Each hold different facets of wisdom and each embody certain qualities. I have been reflecting on the aspect of Mother and the way this face of the goddess manifests when women come together.
During my trip to Salem last week, I stayed with 11 other women. Most of these people did not know each other outside of a few online interactions. Of the 12 of us participating in this witchy weekend getaway, I believe 9 of us were Moms. As I watched the interactions and energies of these women come together throughout the days, the topic of pregnancy and birth kept arising. Discussions of kids in real time also arose, but it was this space of gestation and coming into the word that seemed dominant.
I have seen this before. When women of a certain age (the “Mother” years) gather, this topic is naturally one that will arise. The process of pregnancy and giving birth can vary greatly and yet are all the same in their connection to creation of another human. The female body does this miraculous thing by holding and growing a person inside long enough for them to be brought into the world as another being on this planet with their own set of feelings and their own consciousness. This thread of birthing is an easy place to connect for Moms. I have run support groups for parents and taught workshops on a myriad of topics, I have been a part of a Women’s Circle for 15 years and I have seen this theme and the bond it creates flourish in all of these settings.
I am one of the three women who were on that trip last week who is not a Mom. I have not birthed or adopted a human in this lifetime. I can not join that conversation in a way that allows me access to connection. It took me ten years and a lot of personal work to come to peace with the fact that I am not a Mamma. And this was a choice I made. One I felt tortured about many times along the way, but one I chose. I own that. But not all women can. There are many women who cannot have babies, not by choice but because their bodies have made the decision for them. Women who have lost their babies. Women who will never experience pregnancy and birth but who have adopted babies into their worlds and hold the title of Mom just the same.
This can be a touchy subject. A painful and emotional subject for some. In my work as a psychotherapist I have been privileged and honored to bear witness to many women in their journey to discovering what it means to be a Mom or to not be as the case might be. And yet as women I believe we are all holding the Mother inside of us.
The Mother wound is a real thing for many folks. This does not have to mean that you had a crappy childhood or a bad relationship with your Mom. It’s so much more than that. The archetype of the Mother holds a Pandora’s box of meaning. Culturally (both family culture and the larger culture in which you live or were raised) as well as personally, we hold beliefs around what this role is. The Mother archetype embodies all we expect from the role of Mother. The trouble is, that when we put all of this on our own Mothers, (or ourselves), we leave out the fact that we are human too. I have met women who had amazing connections with their Mothers, who felt supported and loved, who have created internal pressure on themselves to live up to a standard they set based on this relationship or experience. I have met women who felt dropped by their own Mothers and found themselves overcompensating in their own role as Mom. There are many variations on this theme. We each hold within us an idea and expectation of what “Mother” is. And often we are going to be let down by this. By our own Mothers, by other Mothers and by ourselves.
I believe that the Mother wound can be healed within ourselves. I believe we can embody this archetype whether we have actual children or not. I am an animal mom. Granted this is not the equivalent of having human children and I won’t pretend that it is, yet I do “Mother” them. I take on the role of Mother to clients, to friends, at times to my husband too. I have “Mothered” into being numerous creative projects and my businesses. It took me a long time to be able to state aloud that I do hold the role as Mother, even though I am not a birth mom, or even a mom to human children. No one will ever call me “Mom”, yet this does not take away the gift I have been given in being able to embody elements of the archetype of Mother.
When I feel into the archetype of the Mother, I feel all her facets. Her unconditional love, her fierce protection, her solid boundaries. The Mother energy is nurturing, yet also strong. Her job is keep you alive! Sometimes this means you won’t like what she has to say to you. Sometimes you won’t like the things you have to say or do when you are embodying that role. There is a shadow side to the Mother just as there is a shadow side to all things. Being a parent is hands down the most difficult job in the world. The Mother holds a lot of responsibility and when in balance she can hold this because she also holds so much love.
How does the Mother archetype show up for you?
Emily Morrison MA, MFT