Motherhood and shadow work... two little peas in a pod. Can you have motherhood without regular invitation to embark on shadow work? I don't think so. Now, whether or not you take the invitation is a whole 'nother story.
What is the shadow and what is the work?
As I have dove deeper and deeper into my own self healing and spirituality I have found the ever presence of the shadow fascinating. There cannot be light without the shadow. The yin yang. Within the light there is dark, and within the dark there is light. A simple example would be making a decision, any decision. When we chose one way (the light) there is a loss (the shadow) of all the other paths. The word decide actually houses this shadow in the anatomy. The root of the word decide is 'cide.' Cide, as a root, means killing or destruction. To decide something means to kill other possibilities.
The shadow 'work' is to acknowledge this part of the process. To celebrate the decision, while also acknowledging and holding the fact that this means x, y and z won't be happening because of this choice. Do we have to dive into the shadow, and drown ourselves with the dark? No. But to ignore or pretend it isn't there leads to a life half lived and half awake. More often than not that shadow will find a way to arise when ignored.... usually in unhelpful, inconvenient times.
Motherhood and shadow work go hand in hand. Our children are so skilled in helping us 'discover' our shadows. That flash of rage, the sinking from guilt, the judgement we feel towards other parents etc... All the parts of momming we try to scoot over and brush up quickly.
I have been asking for more opportunity to see some parts of my shadow. As I sat down for meditation yesterday I specifically set the intention for time with my shadow...
'Your wish, is my command.' -Universe
I planned a 15 minute guided mediation session. I got out multiple food options for the 6 and 3 year old. Put on a show, scattered about different toy options. Then, in my most serious mom voice, told the girls I would be stepping out to the porch for 15 minutes and to not interrupt unless there is an emergency. Note to future self, 'emergency' is very subjective...
As I settled into presence and breath/body awareness I began to relax and deepen my focus. At about 3 minutes in I felt a tap on my knee...
"Mom can you cut this cucumber for me?"
I watched as my whole body constricted and anger flooded my stomach. I took the cucumber and snapped it in half with my mom strength and handed it back to the 3 year old. She smiled wide and skipped off gnawing on the cucumber.
Back to my practice. Deep breaths and resettled. At that moment I acknowledged the way the anger washed over me and how quickly it came on. This is not something I usually sit with. I normally shut it down fast. I run the dialogue stating how she can't cut a cucumber herself, of course she needed me. She needs me for everything. Bless her little heart for even wanting a cucumber over the bowl of goldfish I left out. etc etc etc.... Shaming the part of me that felt that flash of anger.
After ten more minutes, the pit in my stomach had moved on, most likely because space was held for exposure and curiosity. Relaxed and peace filled, body like jello and feeling still. I began to make out a faint whisper
"Mom, mom, mom."
My eyes popped open and I yanked my earbud out. Body tight, pit of anger back.
"Piper, I hope this is an emergency." Mom voice.
"It is, it really is. I just wanted to tell you J (my mom, the girl's grandma) is awake now."
I watched bewildered, as she skipped back indoors. Emergency? I gaze back out ahead of me noticing that anger again. This time I threw in the towel. I got up and went inside, at least I tried to get the time in, I will try again later. I did not sit with this feeling, I banished it. I told it to go away. I went inside and returned to my regular role as mother and doer of all the things.
Interestingly enough, guess what came up and up and UP the rest of the day... anger. I was angry that my sitter was stuck in an airport, but I quickly rationalized it, and thought about myself being stuck in an airport just the day before and how that's fun for no one. I was angry that the dog threw up all over my bed, but shut it down because the poor dog gets carsick, and at least she held it until we got home. And the irritating situations just kept coming as I swatted them away like a ping pong champ. Then it happened. I unexpectedly was taken over with rage. I snapped at the dog, I snapped at the girls and watched them look at me wide-eyed and felt the flood of shame, but then still angry.
Had I made room for that anger in the small doses it was coming up would it have turned into rage? I don't think so. Had I been mindful of my shadow popping up and chosen to hold space in each moment, as it arose, it could've moved on. Instead I stuffed and stuffed it until there was no choice but to explode like a scary clown jack in the box. Had I stomped a few times, shaken my arms and wiggled my arms about, meditated some anger affirmations, acknowledged the anger and located it in my body, anything except what I did, really.
This is just one snippet out of weeks and months and years of mothering. The invitations are always present to dive deeper. To chose not to be unconscious about my reactions. To know the saying 'that's just the way I am' is such bullshit and all that means is that I am acting out in unhelpful ways, but not willing to understand or know why. Doing the work is worth it. It is worth taking these experiences and learning more about ourselves and our shadow. This is the path to living a wholehearted and authentic life.
Wishing you all many blessings as you swim through the day weaving around and through obstacles that present as invitations to dive into your own inner soul work.