Tomorrow marks a special milestone in my motherhood journey – my DS1 (Dear Son 1) begins his first day of daycare. It’s not been easy to get a place as there’s been a baby boom in these parts and we’ve had to find somewhere beyond our town. We’ve found a lovely centre that’s rooted in Montessori philosophy where he’ll go two days a week. He’s sparkled with delight on both his orientation days. Other little people! New toys to play with! The novelty of it all! It was me who was shedding tears as we stepped into the classroom.
I’ve been reflecting on my 15 months into motherhood so far today, and the words to describe the change still feel loose and ineffable. But what I can say with certainty is that it has felt like a rearrangement of my entire being. Something magical and mysterious happened in birth where everything was sent into chaos (the healing kind) with the only way through being surrender, and then I was put back together in a slightly new way. I’ve been getting to know this new version of myself in this new season of life slowly. This has been both unsettling and fills me with awe on the regular.
Last month I read “Buddhism for Mothers” by Sarah Naptahli, a beautiful book that has re-ignited my interest in Buddhism. Sarah writes about how motherhood poises us to be particularly receptive to the teachings of Buddhism; for we’re attuned to both suffering and love in a profound way. She writes:
Many mothers remark on how having children changes their experience of watching the nightly news. As mothers, we feel the pain in the world more. We now see victims of crimes, wars and drug addiction as the precious children of suffering mothers. Stories of kidnappings, child abuse or suicide feel like more than we can bear. We understand that any death or loss affects a vulnerable family unit. Our reactions are a sign of our deepened awareness of suffering and unsatisfactoriness in life.
Part of the cause of unsatisfactoriness is what Buddhists call impermanence, or the way that everything must change into something else—nothing stays the same. Everything in life—people, circumstances, objects down to the smallest particle—is in process, and this leaves us with nothing solid and lasting to rely on
While dwelling on this for too long gives me vertigo, the other side of this new awareness is the love. Nothing could have prepared me for the love that has come with my son arriving in this world. And what a joy it has been to watch its infinite reach bloom within me. Sarah continues:
The second reason mothers are ripe to benefit from Buddhism is that we’ve taken an enormous step towards attaining what Buddhists call ‘the mind of love’. As we know, motherhood is about far more than suffering; it’s also about a mind-expanding experience of love. The love of a mother for a child is the truest love around. Loving a child teaches us what real love is: selfless, patient and forgiving.
Having this paradox articulated has brought me a great deal of peace. As has the mantra, Gentle, Patient and Persistent, it truly feels like the only sane way to approach this beautiful, hectic season of life.
So the daycare bag is packed, the name labels ironed on and the shoes set out by the door. And tomorrow our circle widens and our world changes once more.