|The Annunciation by Anna Alvarez Errecalde, self portrait with her son. 2013-2014|
I just want to say something about being a parent, a single mum in particular because that's my experience. I have an essay being published in a book called Single Mothers Speak on Patriarchy due for release soon, however, I am moved to say this - partly as my own ongoing self-medication, and partly in the hope it might help someone else to not be so hard on themselves. It's quite obvious really, but the hardest thing in the world.
Being on a journey of the "conscious" parent is an undertaking of the highest order, of changing imprint and indoctrination at the most core level of intimate being. It is a practice, but unlike other mystical practices it involves the direct and immediate relationship with another human being - a vulnerable and not fully matured human being - to yourself, who is interdependent with you.
Within a patriarchal/dominator/androcratic social system in whatever form, where many but not all parents were raised with trauma based, fear based and authoritarian styles (smacking, coercion, punitive discipline and so on) in order to perpetuate hierarchies of power over, of domination/submission, to undertake the journey of the "partnership" non-fear based, caring and respecting parenting, is a monumental and exacting task. Many parents do not realise they choose this path until they are knee deep in baby shit and conditioned, often aggressive response to challenging situations - often by that time alone, isolated, segregated into boxes (houses) with varying types of survival needs operating - jobs, study, other intimate relationships, poverty and the need for water, food and shelter. In the culture I know, this explains a great deal of post natal depression, which, coupled with huge hormonal changes, propel many western women into messy and botched initiatory journeys. I am such a woman.
Major patriarchal religious pathways have failed us because they have denied the cyclical nature of being, and failed to nurture societies in order to prevent the trauma parenting - which becomes the trauma adulting - of the members of their societies. Segregated people have internalised segregated ideals. As a parent in these climates, all varying socio-economic climates, climates of war, climates of relative ease (at what cost?) climates of abuse and violence, and so on, the immediate challenge becomes the confrontation with nature and the cyclical, unfolding nature of becoming, taking the form of the infant, the child. (which is why pornography often wants to violate the child, the "barely legal" youth, as a means of perpetuating patriarchal values - to destroy what it can not have, to destroy a potential that may one day become a threat to its existence).
We are being becoming. Always becoming. We are not pre-packaged, we must grow ourselves in the immediate moment of supporting the growth of a child. That is a call to an extremely high standard that we will not meet, not every time. And we have a lot of difficulty to deal with in all and every form, whether poor diet, mental health, war, domestic violence, introversion, poverty...the list spectrum goes on. It's fucking hard. We often can not see the deepest gains we make (if we make them), and may not live to see them. The wounding of the mother, which is the internalised oppression dealt by patriarchal/dominator social and mythic systems, and which permeates ALL lives, has polluted the ground of all being.
Don't be hard on yourselves, mums and dads on the journey. Take your tears and wash your hands clean. Take your tears and bathe in their sublime power. Our tears, collectively, show our grief for this dysfunctional period of the human story, they are our yearning for change, for health, for evolution - if we believe that we can evolve.
When the child is attacked, directly or indirectly, we see clearly the mandate of our culture. We can then try to be alert, but it requires our energy. Our commitment. We can stand and defy the sly, subversive patriarchal mandate. Let's not be so hard on ourselves. The practice is the flowing back and forth, parent and child, a lemniscate of intentional love.
Personally, I fall down every day, sometimes every minute, but I keep getting up, I drag myself sometimes only to my knees, I sleep vigilant, but every morning, every moment, I rise to meet my children and the possible future they represent, with passion and love.
-Louise M. Hewett
Louise M Hewett is a Mother-Caregiver, Artist-Writer, Feminist and Priestess of Goddess, simultaneously, without hierarchy. She has been involved with Pagan and Goddess spirituality for more than twenty five years, expressing her experiences of unlearning and re-membering in ceremony, art, writing, and song lyrics, and has recently self-published her first novel, Mist. Louise lives in Strathalbyn, South Australia with three of her four children and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Visual Art degree at Adelaide Central School of Art.