The Exquisite Beauty of Recovering Mother Wisdom — A Resting in Progress
I wrote this blog to celebrate my oldest daughter Autumn’s 27th birthday, Nov 13. A sensitive woman of beauty, style, grace, comedy, adventure, curiosity, brilliance, integrity, love, power, and utter fairness.
Do you ever feel like precious time has gone by and you forgot to notice the spaces of beauty? Have you noticed that our attention can easily go toward what or who is making the most noise and focus on solutions to fix, change, solve, accomplish, achieve, while the entire time blissful beauty is quietly waiting for us?
Perhaps with a nod, a joke, or a kiss of indelible kindness. My attention for so many years went to my twins as their needs were loud. Sometimes I forgot to notice the quiet places or people.
It is never too late to remember the quiet, to savor and cultivate beauty in the simple soft pleasures that bring us deep satisfaction and invite us to rest.
Receiving beauty and rest sustains us, especially in relationships. Relationships of all kinds contain challenges. When we give space for a relationship to be what it is, it unpacks itself. We often see that the challenging aspects teach us to grow and mature in ways unimagined. Parenting is by far the hardest thing I have ever encountered, and I find endless opportunities to learn and grow. Parenting is not the kind of job that we clock in and out of. It often travels with us until we learn and understand that if we could have done better or different, we would have. We can learn to modify our actions, yet this does not always guarantee specific outcomes.
I spent my earliest years hanging close to my mother’s apron strings imitating her movements with eager curiosity. Little did I know I was absorbing imprints of a time when women were not well resourced, often abused, disempowered, and silenced. I remember witnessing numbing patterns that I swore I would not repeat. Oddly enough, the patterns I was certain not to repeat have become places of resistance in my life that I’m continuously learning to meet. One of these places is allowing myself to rest and take in quiet pleasures and people. Places of rest have taught me the most about being human, about being and doing enough, and about learning to mother and love well.
My journey as a mother began late in life. At the time, I thought I was well-resourced with years of recovery, personal therapy, spiritual practice, and professional success under my belt.
My first child, Autumn was born twenty-seven years ago naturally in our living room without interruption of any kind. After two hours of uneventful yet intense contractions, she quietly slid out with eyes shining wide open with an incredible tender innocence, a steady stillness that echoed pure love—her birthright. For the first ten days of her life, the only noise she made sounded like a little bird chirping.
When labor began I had just placed homemade pumpkin pies in the oven. The pies were still warm when Dad cut the umbilical cord and never tasted so good. I named her Autumn Bliss after a season where spiritual dogma and teachings that did not resonate in my body were falling off as compost for mother earth.
In this particular season, twenty-seven years ago, patriarchal discourse did not value mothering and disappeared women for centuries in countless brutal ways. I chose Bliss to name the ecstasy articulated through conceiving, carrying, and birthing life from my womb—from the wisdom within my body, an exquisite bliss that welcomes beauty and new life, a holy bliss innately cocooning us in a delicacy that unfolds with the tactual sensation of intimate care.
I named our time together, the honeymoon of spiritual awakening. We had close to two years laced with bliss before we were abruptly separated by the noise of unnerving sounds.
I was six months into my pregnancy, with twins when I woke with early signs of labor. Our midwife was at a birth and suggested I get checked at our local hospital. When I told the doctor on duty the story of how easily my first baby came, suddenly, without examination or consent, I was helicoptered to a more efficient and prestigious hospital, by myself, without my toddler, midwife, or community. Before landing, all signs of labor had ceased leaving me to wonder, why am I in this helicopter and where is baby Autumn? Regardless, I was admitted and told, “you are our patient now.” My midwife was not allowed to enter. I was alone in a loud unfamiliar place with strangers dressed in blue scruffs, carrying clipboards, pockets full of syringes, speaking a language I did not understand. It would be a few days before I would see my toddler again.
I don’t know if a mother or her body ever recovers from becoming captive to unceasing medical protocols that ignore the quiet wisdom inherent in her body. I do know that it has taken many years for me to unpack layers of noise, shame, and embarrassment that riddled my life with doubt. Unconsciously, I blamed myself. I told myself, I did something intolerably wrong when I was held captive from my toddler when my twins were C-sectioned from my womb at one pound each. My body still wakes up in cold sweats rumbling, running, groaning, shouting “No! Stop!” attempting to escape loud alarming noises that do not belong to me.
Sometimes, I feel like my body is exhuming centuries of severe trauma to women’s bodies and psyches that are agonizing to articulate yet unable to be silenced. Domination over birth, like sexual assault, is an attack on a woman’s right to a powerful yet quiet intelligence inherent in her body, to sovereignty, and to bodily integrity necessary to hear herself, feel herself and foster intimacy and care with herself and others.
I am infinitely grateful that Autumn came before my twins. Her life nourished this tender wisdom integral to my body to be a mother. Mothering her informed my capacity for sacred reciprocity: the balance of giving and receiving. Unbeknownst to baby Autumn or me, our cocoon fostered and protected a relationship of mutual benefit. I was being mothered as I mothered her. This opened a doorway within me that naturally led me to enjoy the beauty and listen to the quiet spaces within life. I did not know that soon our lives would implode with often unbearable volumes of noise that would traumatize all of us for years to come.
Twenty-five years have passed since the tragedy of my twins birth happened. I’m still threading together the pieces of a broken honeymoon with my endearing toddler. I consider myself one of the many recovering mothers who was called to turn away from a delightful someone or something because she could not hear through the alarming noises. As the quiet one in a family of ten, I remember many times needing something from my mother and her telling me, “you’re fine, you don’t need anything.” As if she were praying that I would grow up without her help or required attention. I promised myself I would never do that. Decades later as I watched Autumn so many times carrying on and navigating years of development with a mother caught up in the noise of attending to twins with compounded disabilities, I wonder did I do the same?
Holy mother of God. That’s a ton to unpack. I’ve unearthed this time and time again, noticing when I try to compensate for the times I could not show up in ways I wanted to. What I have come to see, is this. We are always doing the very best with the resources and capacity we have at any given time. There are a multiplicity of influences that go into our relationships.
The essential key I have found for being a well-resourced parent is taking time for rest, doing nothing, and allowing yourself to have simple pleasures. Easier said than done. Sometimes we need a reminder from the quiet spaces like nature, earth-based or body-centered meditations, a friend that listens well, or finding a trauma-informed therapist. Our children will always have needs and so will parents. When we honor this we learn to show up well-resourced and rested with more tools and skills to bed emotionally responsive in our relationships.
Some time ago, I had a realization that life doesn’t happen to us but for us. This understanding has shifted how I look at things or where I look from. Am I looking from a story in my head? That might say, “you did not do enough, you were too busy fixing, you did exactly what you said you would never do, bla, bla, bal” A space that is crowded and loud. Now, I stop, drop and rest. This naturally widens my view to take in pleasure, play, beauty, the quiet spaces, and the people that offer the relaxation of enoughness. What a revelation! You can rest. The heart story always says, “you’ve done more than enough and you did your very best.”
Allowing life to happen for us rather than to us, allows us to rest. Rest opens us to experience balance and see the beauty in everything: birthing and dying; giving and receiving; speaking and listening; teaching and learning; sorrow and joy; work and play; movement and rest; call and response.
Today, on Autumn Bliss’s birthday I continue to weave the delightful threads of our life together as a woman, mother, and friend. I choose to remember, cherish and cultivate the pure unbroken love that birthed Autumn Bliss into this life, a quiet spacious invisible bond that is continuously blooming with celebrations. This will never die or be broken.
On this mothering journey, I’ve sat in the dark long enough to know that when all else falls away, love remains.
It is this love that enables us to widen our horizon and see that maybe I (and you) did navigate this tough terrain of parenting or relationship okay—bravely, lovingly, and good enough—in the best way possible. Maybe I did learn to slow down, listen to the quiet treasures, fix less, and take care of myself well enough to see, feel and be present for Autumn to be well resourced, and thrive. I have yet to meet a parent that does not have a lingering wish that they could return to an earlier time and navigate differently, show up with more kindness, patience, and presence, with enough reserve to stay awake while reading bedtime stories.
There is no such thing as flawless parenting. Knowing this does not make this complex and shifting territory any easier. But it does make it much more beautiful, special, and quiet.
I just returned from offering deep dive healing retreats in Europe. So much beauty unfolds through releasing painful conditioning throughout these retreats. Participants often ask, how does this deep healing happen? What is your technique? They name all sorts of modalities that I must be utilizing. This “resting in progress” is a hint to the answer.
I have learned to listen to the quiet space within and all around me. I feel safe in myself doing nothing. I have learned to go slow-fully, follow the wisdom in my body, and lean into life. I choose beauty. I remember why I came here. I see that all beings are sacred and worthy of honor and dignity. This is my way.
When I forget, I stroke my heart stories and let the conditioned stories in the head rinse through me like a river to the sea. I am she.
Happy Birthday Autumn Bliss, may you love and be loved well.