Although the tone of this chapter may sound as though it is written mainly for new mothers who may not have considered these matters before, much of it addresses things which recur with every child. I know only too well that one baby does not completely prepare you for subsequent ones, so this fact leaves much room for learning in the circuits of motherhood. Often this learning takes the form of exploration or experimentation, where different ideas and methods are trialled over the years. As your experience accumulates and your intuition develops, you will look back on the once insurmountable things and see them as nothing much. It is important to remember this in the heat of the moment when you may feel like it is all too much to handle.
A Change in Focus
Parents, and most particularly mothers, soon discover that their life becomes landmarked by the different stages and events their children go through. From conception through pregnancy to childbirth and beyond, the events surrounding your children all take on increasing significance in terms of your own growth and development. And this is because so much of yourself has been intimately involved with their existence and the fact that parenthood changes the focus on your own existence in so many ways.
The world is so often just a reflection of where we are at, and on what we are focussed. For example, when you are pregnant there seems to be so many more pregnant women than before! You tend to look more at women's bellies than at their other parts! They were always there of course, we just didn't have the (self) awareness to notice them so often. This is an example of how a change in external focus can bring about a change in internal focus.
There is also a change from focussing more on the past and present into concern for the future. Rather than defining ourselves in terms of where we have come from and what we have done, parenthood forces one to look forwards, to develop a longer term view of life and also to feel more responsible for the kind of society and planet our children will inherit.
In motherhood, a massive shift in focus from the personal to the impersonal takes place. By definition and experience you have become a different person. You are not just a woman (someone who can have children), or a mother (someone who has borne children), you are now a parent (someone who brings up children). Rather than thinking about what life can give us and what we can put back in as individuals, parenthood forces us to think
in terms of the family unit, the family lineage, and more about the human lineage. It offers us a chance to appreciate a bigger picture of the world rather than limited self-focus. Obviously parenting is not the only way one can gain expanded consciousness and a broader view of life, and obviously not all parents gain these attitudes from it. But the potential is there, and through self reflection any parent can realise those things within themself.
All these changes in focus help a woman to expand her consciousness which, after all, is the nature of evolution. At many levels you will change dramatically, and yet, at another level, your essence remains the same. Depending on your focus - how much of it is self directed and how much of it is non-self directed - the changes can come easily or with some difficulty.
In many ways, many of the events of new motherhood are to be expected. You've read about this and that, you've heard there will be difficult times but "It'll be OK" you tell yourself. "Yes, yes I know all that" you proudly exclaim to those who proffer advice. But really, what we think we know and what we really know are two different things and nothing makes this clearer than having children! Even the things we expected will take us by surprise - not to mention the things we didn't expect!
There are just so many areas where your little bundle of joy will precipitate change in your life, and every one of these changes will be deeper than you ever imagined. Relationship matters, family matters, sexual matters, employment, transport, travel, freedom and restriction, personal space, peace, fitness, health, financial, study, work, food, sleep, yoga and meditation, personal growth - no aspect of your life will remain untouched by the combination of the foreknown changes and surprise changes that motherhood brings. This chapter attempts to address change from the two points of practical experience and shameless spiritual idealism. The reality, your reality, will hopefully end up (like mine did) somewhere in between those two goal posts!
Headtrips: Keeping Hold of Reality
I would like to introduce you to a term I have found immensely helpful in my life. I discovered it during my ashram training days and it describes, very succinctly, the difference between reality and non-reality. The word is "headtrip". I come across a lot of people who haven't heard this term yet or who don't understand theconcept. So I would like you to help