quarters about how to be a mother, this book included! But always remember, that some advice is better than others. By all means listen, talk, consider and weigh up all the options, but in the end it will come down to your own parenting priorities as realised from within yourself. Not all of these things have to be learned in just a few months, just the ones you need at the present. And these things are already there in you now. They must be, because you are there now.
As explained in the very beginning of Chapter 1, we have many teachers and sources of guidance throughout our lives. Some come from books, some from schools and colleges, some from our elders, mentors and some of it comes from inside, in our meditations, prayers and spiritual reflections. In the different areas of mothering there are many experts. The midwife or clinic sister may be very well educated in the physiology of babies and breastfeeding, but if she not a mother herself then her advice is really only valid up to that point. Your own mother may be a source of great knowledge in some areas but also some of it may have been based on lifestyles, morals and concepts too outdated for you. Your best girlfriend may be 5 years ahead of you in mothering experience, but if her house is always unclean, messy, or full of undisciplined brats who run the place according to their own rules, and you don't like that, then I would be careful about accepting any advice about mothering she gives. The point is, you may have to shop around to find that one person or even a range of people who "click" with you in just the right way.
Most mothers fall upon a mixture of sources from which to obtain information and advice, and the best approach is to integrate this with patience and intuition. You may like to join a support group where mothers of lesser, equal and greater experience share their stories and experience. There are many different groups focussing on different aspects of motherhood such as: breastfeeding groups, post-natal depression groups, premature baby groups, multiple birth groups, natural birth and homebirth groups, a pre and post-natal yoga group. Go along to these groups and watch how other women interact with their babies. If someone impresses you, then they might have some practical advice that you could take on board.
My belief is that in addition to these sources of advice input, we should find someone who becomes our guide in ways which bring out our best talents for the vocation we have chosen; someone who is concerned for our growth through the
process of mothering, not solely concerned with information about the process of mothering. This is the guru-teacher figure. If your own mother is not that person, then you should try to find someone who can be your spiritual mother, a spiritual midwife.
In our society, the post-natal domestic and social support available to women is grossly inadequate. In the traditional cultures, when a woman has a child, particularly her first, she is assigned an older female member of the family or tribe to be by her side - to actually go and live with her during the first months. The older woman may be her own mother, an aunt, or some special woman who may also be a midwife or healer or keeper of the women's knowledge. This relationship equates with what yoga calls the guru-disciple relationship. On the gross level the older woman arranges practical assistance that allows the new mother to focus on developing her relationship with her baby. On a deeper level the mentor will be passing on her knowledge about mothering - her own experience as a mother, as well as knowledge that has been handed down to her. In this way women's knowledge becomes ever-cumulative instead of being reinvented by each generation, as we see today.
I truly believe that we need a return to this system. Perhaps only a few women will invite such a relationship initially, but those who do are setting themselves and their daughters up for an easier path of learning. The basic skills are all within us - they will arise through instinct. The finer points will come with experience, maturation and most importantly guidance for our role.
A Mother's Mother
Your growth into motherhood will involve firstly changes in the relationships of your immediate family and that of your partner's family. When you first become a parent, everybody in your family takes a jump up one generation which means that as you are feeling your way through new motherhood, your own parents are going to be feeling their way into grandparentdom, your sisters and brothers become aunts and uncles, and your in-laws become related by blood rather than just marriage! All these people will want a piece of your pie (the baby). The variations of harmony and disharmony this can create are innumerable and indescribable. As well as the comfort and wisdom the older generation can bring to your life as a new mother, there can also be complicated plays of power and politics. As if juggling the needs of your new baby, other