When I gave birth to my first child it was one of the most exciting times of my life. However, with the many visitors who came to see the new baby, there also came lots of comments, advice, and opinions.
I remember one afternoon, I sat on the sofa holding the baby and a family member who had come to see us walked into the family room and said, “You know it’s no longer about you. Now, it’s ALL about him.”
Surprisingly, as I sat and listened in silence, I had two thoughts simultaneously come to mind.
First, “Um, I don’t’ think so,” and the second, “Well, he’s probably right.”
Although he meant well and most likely referred to the broader aspects of parenting, without giving it further thought, I willingly “got in line” with his thinking.
The baby was, and would always take precedence before my needs.
“As mothers, we spend most of our time not thinking about or caring about ourselves and our needs. I know plenty of moms who don’t get showers regularly, don’t eat well, and never treat themselves.”
“How did we get to a point where something as necessary as self-care has become something we shrug off as part of motherhood?”
Known as a visionary leader, Suzi Lula challenges conventional thinking that says mothers must sacrifice and martyr themselves to be good mothers and presents us with a new vision of thriving motherhood.
Suzi Lula, M.A., A.L.S.P., is a bestselling author of The Motherhood Evolution and a much-sought-after Spiritual Counselor, who is an expert in the field of human transformation.
Combining her innovative teachings over her 18 years in private practice, along with her masters degree training in spiritual psychology, Suzi is transforming the way people think about motherhood.
I had the opportunity to speak with Suzi on how a new vision of motherhood gives all mothers permission to thrive.
BJB: In The Motherhood Evolution: How Thriving Mothers Raise Thriving Children you write, “Mothers experience such a profound spiritual connection when meeting our children for the first time and yet can so easily lose that connection when moving into the “doing” phase of caring for them…” Can you talk about this?
SL: As mothers, our lives have become so busy. The culture we live in is externally oriented and essentially acknowledges us for all that we do, and not who we are — our being.
I know for myself, I unconsciously fell into the way that I would receive validation which was for the things that I did, like keeping my house clean, always having the laundry done, doing the dishes right after dinner or taking my son to the right activities.
And when I think about us meeting our children for the first time, most have the experience of seeing the value and worth of our children for who they are, not what they’ve done. It’s such a moment in our lives to become aware of valuing our being, because it is ultimately our being that “feeds” our doing.
BJB: There is an unspoken cultural message upheld by many mothers that says “taking care of ourselves is selfish” and self-sacrifice is noble. Where does this come from?
SL: I trace this back to the idea of ‘original sin’ where guilt was overlaid on all of us. We’ve all heard this phrase in the cultural ethers that says there is something wrong with us, with women and feminine qualities being overshadowed by the masculine.
We all want to be good moms, and because there is so much to do that is where we get our value. With so much to do, so many hours of the day, and every moment of our day accounted for, we fall into a paradigm of lack that there isn’t enough for both of us (mother and child) to get our needs.
As a spiritual counselor, a day doesn’t go by when I hear a mom on both sides of the fence. Moms feel guilty when we do take care of ourselves and when we don’t take care of ourselves. We know deep down that we’re trying to do this important job while “running on fumes”.
We have children for whom we are responsible. It’s an insult for us to think we should not be at our best.
BJB: Intertwined with guilt and ‘original sin’ is the aspect of unworthiness.
SL: Speaking to worthiness is very important. It takes me back to the moment when we meet our child.
If you think of an infant you think of ‘original innocence’. You look at the infant as a blank, beautiful slate of innocence who is worthy. The infant can just lie there naked and bring us joy! The infant doesn’t have to do anything to get worth or value because he/she comes in with a sense of worthiness. It is the cultural overlay says, “No. You get your worthiness and value from what you do.”
Therein lies the challenge.
As a mother, I must have the courage to also say that my worthiness comes from who I am, not from what I do.
BJB: You call “mother guilt” an “epidemic”. What is the martyred mother?
SL: I actually believe that not taking care of ourselves is the most narcissistic thing we can do.
If I’m not taking care of myself, I’m trying my best but I’m running on empty and I’m exhausted. I need only walk into a room and everybody in my house can feel me. My son is walking on eggshells because he doesn’t want to say the wrong thing, and my husband doesn’t want to upset me. You can feel an individual before they even open their mouth. And we can feel ourselves. We can be like a volcano ready to erupt. Goodness help us all if someone says the wrong thing.
That is the definition of narcissism. Everyone in the family is unconsciously revolving around me and my exhaustion.
It’s the same with guilt. When I’m feeling guilty, I’m judging myself, I’m self-shaming, and all of my consciousness is being directed onto me. The reflection remains on me. This helps me to stay stuck.
And then I feel resentful.
When my son was first born, my husband would take a nap in the middle of the afternoon. I was like, ‘What?! You’re taking a nap?!’ When he awoke he was refreshed and happily played with our son. I found that I was jealous because I resented him for taking care of himself!
Of course men and women have challenges, but men have been taught that it’s okay to take care of themselves.
When we become martyrs we resent others for taking care of themselves. When you take care of yourself, you have an overflow that allows you to bring richness to your relationship with your child.
BJB: What are examples of the little ways in which mothers short change themselves?
SL: There are many ways, but one important way is to not even ask ourselves what we need.
BJB: How do parents pass on a mentality of lack to their children?
SL: This is a huge concept. We can so easily be fooled because there is a finite amount to time. As mothers with so much to do in so little time, I think we unconsciously fall into mothering from a place of lack. “Hurry up and get out the door. Hurry up so you can eat. Hurry up, hurry up…”
This is operating in the paradigm of lack.
When I take the time to participate in things that truly nourish me, time stands still and expands. What you receive from 30 minutes of nourishment is exponentially expanded, and time exponentially expands. I’m taken out of linear time and my experiences and relationships are better.
Those qualities bring me into a paradigm of abundance because I’m now fulfilled within myself.
This affects the quality of my relationships, my mothering and interaction with my family. In abundance there is unlimited joy, laughter, connection, and intimacy, the things we all want.
Every mother deserves to live in a paradigm of abundance.
BJB: This reiterates the importance of your question in The Motherhood Evolution.
Where are you parenting from, lack or abundance?
SL: That is the question. Depending on where I am when my child gets into the car after-school, or when I tell him to get off the phone, my response is determined by where I’m parenting from, abundance or lack.
BJB: You write, “One of the most liberating things you can do for yourself as a mother is to release the fantasy of being a good mother and instead seek to become a fulfilled mother…no matter what we teach them to the contrary, they will pick up how we really feel about ourselves from our mood, our vibe and our very presence.”
Many mothers do not take the advice they give to their children. With introspection, you realize there is hypocrisy if you’re not living what you preach. Can you talk about the damaging effect of hypocrisy that our children learn?
SL: Self-care is not for the faint of heart. It takes a level of courage to live in alignment and not end up unconsciously and unintentionally becoming a hypocrite. It takes courage, introspection, and calling ourselves out.
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
My son is really not interested in hearing my lectures. What he will remember is how I made him feel.
If my spirituality is important to me, then he will feel that without me even saying one word.
You can feel people who are fulfilled, and who have a deep connection with their faith. There is calmness and centeredness that draws you to them.
Children want to be engaged by a parent who is simply doing what they’re asking.
BJB: I think it’s important to look at how you view children.
SL: We now have the opportunity to awaken to this paradigm shift. I look at children as the closest to spirit, the ultimate spiritual beings. When you take a moment to really think about it, children coming onto the planet is the great mystery of life.
It’s evident that we come from something invisible that is greater than ourselves. When we look at infants we can see that they come from this invisible realm that they have come here to help us remember and to reconnect to what is important.
They’re being allows us to come home to ourselves and remember who we really are. If we stay connected, we allow the children to stay connected.
BJB: Marianne Williamson said, “…deeming motherhood “less important” has greatly diminished the psychological and emotional honor that is appropriately given to the role of mother. And societally, such a view makes it easier to underestimate the importance of maternity leave, universal childcare, universal healthcare and economic justice overall.”
What shift in perception has to take place among women to stop perpetuating this view of motherhood?
SL: I think it would be a shift in perception from lack to abundance, and from competition to collaboration. As mothers we really need to look at the ways we compare and compete.
Comparison and competitiveness come from lack.
We cannot wait to have our value bestowed upon us. We have to do it ourselves because as women, this is our time. When we can honor each other, everyone on the planet will shift.
BJB: What has been the most surprising or unexpected part of your work with mothers as a Spiritual Counselor?
SL: We all want the same things. And that is our bridge.
When you know better, you do better. It is time for all of us, mothers, fathers, and caregivers, to be conscious and forward thinking individuals concerned with the path of mothering as an integral part of human evolution.
It is up to us change our thinking about what is true, what is right and from where we mother our children.
The consciousness of humanity is longing for change right now, and each and every one of us has the opportunity to play a part in creating change.
According to Suzi, mothers are the “untapped spiritual powerhouse of the planet.”
“There has never been a more important time in history for mothers to step into our individual and collective spiritual authority.”
There is no time like the present to begin The Motherhood Evolution.
Let’s get on with it!
Originally published at medium.com