“We cannot hold onto to things and enter. We must put down what we carry, open the door, and then take up only what we need to bring inside.”
This was part of the passage of my daily meditation from the Book of Awakening this week. It struck a deep cord that carried me back to my first pregnancy and transition into motherhood.
I thought I had done the necessary preparation for the 4th trimester – I made padsicles, frozen meals, organised some body work at my house, had the herbs for a sitz bath, prepared my perineum for minimal tearing, and set boundaries on visitors….
What I didn’t prepare for, and what no one told me to prepare for, was the shift in identity/the loss of identity that comes with becoming a mother. Of all the moms I knew and of all the ones I followed on social media, there was no hint of such a grand change. To my unknown eyes it seemed like everyone who had, had babies just kept going, doing the things they always did, being the person they always were, so it didn’t even cross my mind that this wasn’t a possibility.
Because of this I ended up trying to carry everything from who I was, to that door of new Motherhood. Trying to open it with all of who I used to be, trying to force it all through to come out into some nice package on the other side. I was trying so desperately to not let go of who I was then, I wasn’t letting myself become who I was now.
I tried to navigate this transition on my own for months, feeling lost, alone, broken, torn between past and present. Not wanting to let go, but not even sure of what I was holding onto anymore. Sometimes waiting for the ‘old’ me to return, sometimes desperately seeking her. But mostly just not knowing who I was anymore.
There is something about the transition into motherhood that is hard to describe to those on the journey. Some will understand it enough to do the work, others have to get lost and find their way.
I have tried to describe the loss of identity many times and not been able to find the words. It’s hard enough to describe how disconnected you feel to your own body, let alone your own soul. And the experience is different for everyone, all dependent on what we try to carry through that door.
It wasn’t until I heard the story of Inanna, the Goddess of Heaven and Earth, who travels to the underworld that I finally started to recognize what I didn’t do and what I could have done differently in my journey.
There is a passage in the story where Inanna can no longer ignore the call from the Underworld. She knows that it is a place that needs complete focus in order to journey down to and, hopefully, return from. So she goes to each of her seven temples and shuts each of them down. She puts the fires out and locks the doors, knowing that nothing from the upper world can continue, if she is to give her full attention to the journey ahead.
I realised that in my journey to Motherhood, I left the fires in my temples burning. Thinking that I could tend to them as well as go through the most momentous transition of my life. I was being pulled backwards through the door that I was trying to walk through.
So this time I have labelled those temples very clearly, some I know I will never be able to return to, and some I hope to one day return and relight the fires. I know that I must put down the time together as a family of 3, to fully transition to a family of 4. I know that my career must take a backseat for an unknown amount of time. I know that my alone time will be non-existent for many months. The travel we used to do as a family with ease will stop. The small amount of time me and my husband have together now will decrease. The Mother I am today will change.
I will put the fires of those temples out, I will put down what I am carrying so I can open the door to being a mother of 2, and walk through that door with only what I need.
Letting go is hard, but sometimes holding on is even harder.