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Kali, Kuan Yin and Mothering...

I recently had a dream where I was hugging my mother right before I woke up. And not a simple embrace, but a long, tearful connection that was deep and heartfelt. I woke up sobbing, chest heaving. Grieving and letting go all at once. She was free and I was too. All the walls had come down and we were in unity/harmony/surrender. If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie Encanto (only like 50 times over here), then you know that in the vision to save the family the main character has to embrace her sister who she has been resentful at her whole life. I could go on and on about how awesome that movie is, but I’ll save it for another time. Right now, I want to talk about mothering…

When I think about the perfect mother, I think of a selfless, soft, nurturing, ray-of-sunshine and comfort. I think of a person who is grateful, talented, and emotionally available at all times. A shoulder and a sounding board for all of life’s problems. A safe harbor in the turbulent seas of life. I often think of a homemaker...

The more time I spend as a mother, the more I endeavor to release those images and notions. I love them and honor their intentions for comfort and safety, and then I let them go. The more time I spend as an imperfect mother, the more I surrender to the perfection of what is. Or at least the conviction that Higher Power has me and my daughters’ backs even in the rocky times. My mother is not perfect, and neither am I, but I will try to focus on myself over here (progress not perfection!).

When my first little girl was born, I could never imagine leaving her side but then I had to in order to finish my license as a social worker (there was a time stamp on it and the clock was ticking). My baby had a wonderful nanny who would send updates and take her places and deeply loved and cared for her. It felt so awful. I hated work, I hated myself for working. I hated that I missed precious moments I’ll never get back. I was riddled with guilt, chiding myself for ever wanting a career. My own childhood trauma wouldn’t let me rest. My daughter was going to know every day how much she was wanted and loved (damnit!) if it killed me, she’d never have to feel the way I did…When not at work, I held her endlessly when I could. I had trouble hiring sitters. I stayed at home well beyond the point of needing fresh air and adult conversation. I cried on the floor in the bathroom often. I rushed everywhere. I never asked for help...

So, when I was pregnant with my second, I walked away from my career. My mental health was not at a high. Saddled with guilt and shame about my life’s ambitions and my ambitions as a mother, I thought for sure, that staying at home would be the most fulfilling adventure. I’d get to be there for every diaper, every skinned knee, every nap, every priceless picture and memory. But Oh. My. God. I was not prepared. I had no blueprint. I obsessed over baby books and attachment parenting. Then, I started to want things, like going out with friends, dancing, maybe even (gasp) working again. Why did I feel this way? The age-old conundrums of staying at home or working had hit my life like a never-ending hurricane of worry, thought, perfectionism, comparison, anger, resentment, and childhood trauma. I was mad at God, at my parents and society for failing to be my motherfucking village. I was trying to outrun myself. I felt like a failure at both work and parenting.

When I had my girls, I didn’t know that all of my fears from my own childhood would come rushing back to me. Deep feelings of inadequacy and worry plagued me as a child, and I was still inept at asking for help. I appeared fun-loving on the outside but on the inside, I was a caged animal, raw and wiry. Every time as a parent when I would lose my patience with my screaming child, I would crumble inside and feel doomed to repeat the traumatic cycles of my upbringing with my own girls, even though I promised myself I would NEVER do that. Eventually, this led to me hiring a nanny again, but also not returning to work. I took time to myself to just do whatever I wanted, I made pottery, I wrote, I wove, I gardened, I went to meetings, but the feelings of inadequacy only worsened. I went into a depressive place. I succumbed to the pain cave. I decided, I guess I just live here now, this is all that life has to offer. I have everything anyone could ever want, and I am still unhappy…

So, what happened? How did I come out of it? I’m not sure I have ALL the answers just yet. I am still in the midst of a pretty big shake-up in my life. Even though things got worse before they got better, taking that break and getting in touch with my creativity was my first steps back to Spirit. Thankfully I did not relapse on substances, but I can say that I imbibed attention and adrenaline if the opportunity arose. I am not allowing guilt about those things either right now. I actually think my body and mind needed some life, so they sought it out. Albeit to some, it might have been the wrong avenues, it was just right for me.

First the existential crises. Holding the duality of meaninglessness and meaningfulness in my life and actions has been intriguing to witness. I choose to live in meaningful action today, but I also know that what I do has perhaps little consequence in the grand scheme of history. So, after that understanding, life is more about Joy and having fun than worrying about the outcome so much. So what actions am I taking?

I am actively working in meditation (and in day-to-day life) to embrace all sides of myself. This means discipline even when uncomfortable. Dark and Light feminine, the dominatrix and the girl next door. The Dark and Light masculine, the taker and the provider or the weasel and the rock, however you like to look at it. I am all of these things. They all want to come out to play, and they need structure and balance. That means in meditation I acknowledge my urges; I look at healthy ways to let them out. This might mean paying extra attention to self-care, work, relationships, or surrender. I listen to my heart (and definitely my Yoni). What does she need today? How can she be of service to the greatest good? I think about the 24 hours ahead. By self-care I mean I ask my body and heart what they need that day (these aren't always easy). The answers usually involve putting effort into my clothing, physical connection with self (wink), dancing, singing, writing, and all manner of joyful actions.

I ordered two statues for my meditation devotion the other day. Kali and Kuan Yin. “Kali, (Sanskrit: “She Who Is Black” or “She Who Is Death”) in Hinduism, goddess of time, doomsday, and death, or the black goddess (the feminine form of Sanskrit kala, “time-doomsday-death” or “black”). Oct 30, 2022 (” “Guanyin is the Chinese translation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who chose to stay on earth as accessible examples for Buddhist faithful to follow. May 7, 2021 (” As you can see, they are pretty yin and yang. Sometimes you need Kali to shake you out of your slumber, and sometimes you need Kuan Yin to show you what to do once you are awake. Sometimes they are happening simultaneously…

Book Recommendations:

“Pussy” by Regena Thomashaur (seriously, top 5 books I’ve ever read, I wish all women and men would read this.)

“Come As You Are” by Emily Nagoski

“Finding your Way in a New World” by Martha Beck

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