When my eldest son moved out to go to university eighteen months ago I began the death rites. Not for the loss of him, he is still very much in my life, although our relationship is growing and changing. I began saying goodbye to my identity as a mother to dependent children. And my identity as mother was closely tied to what I believed held me back from fully immersing myself in the writing life.
Motherhood is so idealised in culture. The nurturing, self sacrificing, earth mother, transcending culture and being entirely of nature. But Mother Nature can be as cold and cruel as she is warm and nurturing. They are two sides of the same coin, not polar opposites. The nurturing mother quickly reveals her mourning, resentful side when she is no longer vital. Everything that she willingly suppressed in her own life for the prize of being central in the life of her child, reveals itself as a surprising rage and alternating grief when she is no longer needed in that way. Think of Demeter withdrawing life and growth from this world when Persephone chose her husband, Hades, and moved away from her mother. (I’m not the only one who finds it hard to believe Persephone was abducted, right? I think that was the story Demeter believed to keep a respectable face in the face of her daughter’s shocking choice of husband)
For years I have found purpose and comfort in embodying the archetype of the nurturing mother. It is a role that has greatly nourished me and those around me. But I have also used it as an excuse to not move fully into my creativity and my writing life. Can I step back now and allow myself to be nurtured by the energy of The Empress, to tend to the seedlings of the garden that I tend, and allow myself to be nurtured with her tenderness too?
I hope so.