I have been inspired today over at Lavendilly - after reading my beautiful friend Jen's latest post on re-defining achievement. I think this is my all time favourite topic and one that we Mammas can help each other with.
We modern, well educated girls were brought up with a strong work ethic and a genuine achiever spirit within us. I have really strong memories of being encouraged to seek the best life has to offer. It was oh so important to achieve your best at school so that you could achieve a great further education....so that you could achieve a great job....so that you could achieve your career ambitions.....so that you could achieve personal and financial rewards..... so that you could one day be able to settle down and have a family! For me, it certainly was a high flying time, literally.
As a young, single woman I achieved many of my dreams - among them several academic achievements in film, education, yoga, creative arts and experiential therapies. I've enjoyed a rather colourful musical life in an array of rock bands and melodic, alternative duos and trios and performed solo across London. I travelled widely and experienced some of the most amazing nature power spots in the world from the incredible experience of the highest highs and lowest lows of Egypt to almost touch heaven in the Himalayas to the indescribable majesty of the fjordlands of Norway - to mention a few. I have held a variety of jobs from check-out chick to artist to nannying to singing to early years teaching to now leading singing and chanting circles and co-facilitating our Sacred Essence circles. And as for my spiritual journey, I have been transformed a few times over through the many beckonings of my soul to partake in the ancient arts as well as modern forms of self inquiry and 'inner work'.
I am proud of my achievements as a young woman and now I feel I have arrived where I really want to be...... because along with this achiever spirit to soar in the world (which never seemed truly satisfied), I also have this beautiful innate mother instinct which longs to retreat to the comfort of a safe and secure home, to nurture my precious babes as best I know how. It's a balancing act this motherhood/womanhood gig. One eye on our beloved ones and one on our beloved self quest! (As illustrated in the eyes of the mother in my painting above, Woman and Child, 2009.)
Torn is how I felt just this afternoon trying desperately to plant the limp potted plants into the (now not so new) garden bed while the children got louder inside demanding my attention. While my achiever spirit screamed within "I want to create a beautiful garden!", I looked down at my earth crusted fingers and hands and then into the yearning eyes of my littlest one, dropped the shovel and went about scrubbing my hands with vigour so that I could go to her.
As modern women and mothers, we embody this dual purpose every day, and it's hard to know how to juggle time between them. It's hard sometimes to be satisfied to be one at a time. For me it's definitely a test of patience. Then I realise, that sometimes deafening cry of the achiever spirit within me, that really doesn't like to be interrupted is actually being called to her greatest quest ever! All of the experiences and acquired skills of my past life as a single woman have been grooming me for my most important role. Like my friend Jen, I make the choice to be present to my children (though sometimes they might need to wait a minute or two).
Ah well.... the garden bed lies fertile......and she waits.
And my children, my truest legacy, and my Mother spirit call me to be better than ever.
Some days I don't know if I measure up to the challenge and I long for one path, but of course my children chose me for who I am... and I am... one woman with two spirits.