I think many mums reach a kind of questioning about their life, a need to resolve the many pulls that tug us off centre, off target and out of sense with what we believed ourselves to be. There we were thinking we were proceeding towards clear intentions and goals when suddenly they are consumed in a fog of changed thinking, changed feeling, and the goal posts have moved anyway.
Did anyone else feel like that? Please say it’s not just me?
This book was one of many I dipped into about the spirit of motherhood. What was so astounding about it was not so much that it described so recognisably the challenges modern mums face, but that it was written in 1955! Updated 1980. And yet still it resonates. Makes you wonder how much we’ve actually moved on since then?
Here’s some of it that may sound familiar:
‘For to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mother-core, like spokes from the hub of a wheel. The pattern of our lives is essentially circular. We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive…..How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of all these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives….The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls….The problem is not Woman and career, Woman and the home, Woman and independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces pull one off centre; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.’
Through analogies with the shells she finds on the beach (hence the title) Anne goes on to explore the different relationships within our families which we have to adapt to as they grow and change.
Mothering can be one of the most transformational times of our lives. It changes our perceptions and perspectives. It changes what we thought we believed. It changes our whole life.
The changes can be beautiful and inspirational, uplifting and exciting. But all change is challenging and takes a while to grow into. Then, when you think you have some answers, it changes once again.
So is there ever an answer?
Not if you’re looking for one elsewhere.
But yes; in that you observe and absorb all changes, keep an open heart and mind, have patience and flexibility, and you’ll finally grow your own.
For only your own will do.
(‘Mumhood. How to handle it. Why it matters’ was written to support you in finding some of your own answers. Hope it helps).