Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I have been thinking a lot about mothering over the past few days. In part because I have been reading this book:
This is a really wonderful book! Actually it is written by one of my very favourite writers. She also happens to be a very special friend of mine, but that is by the by when it comes to her writing. Lucy writes about motherhood in a way I have never read about it before. Mostly when you read parenting books, especially about the natural/ Steiner/ attachment parenting styles that I would prefer, the needs of the child are central. What Lucy does however is she puts the 'mother' into 'mothering'. 
This book is a compilation of  work featured on her wonderful blog and also in other publications. Her writing is so funny and so sweet and so utterly true. I have spent my evenings reading this swaying gently between tears, laughter and those out-loud 'exactly!'s'.
Because Lucy's writing has touched me so much over the last couple of years and because she released this book just at the time when I needed to read it most, I have bought a second copy to give away here, to one of you readers. See details below...
 Reading Moods of Motherhood has gotten me thinking a lot about my role as a mother and as a woman in my own right. Funnily enough, and as the way these things always happen, my counselor set me a wee art project of making a 'constellation' of women in art form. A visual reminder to myself that I come from a long line of women, all of us mothers and all of us mothered sufficiently for the line to continue unbroken from the beginning of time right up to through me to Rebe...
 I was supposed to make clay models, but that didn't work for me, so last weekend when the kids were painting I sat with them and painted my history of motherhood. I started with myself at the front holding Rebe then moved backwards through my mother, grand mother and great grandmother.
 It was a really interesting exercise in that my great-great grandmother is faceless and nameless to me and all other women before her equally so. None of them are any less important in terms of mothering, but they have no real impact on me apart from the fact that they mothered. And in fact I have no idea how they mothered, whether it was good, bad or indifferent.
Realising this took a huge self-imposed pressure off me.
 You see I have been feeling very under pressure of late to 'get it right', 100% and completely. I have felt that because of our family situation that it is vital for me to be this amazing mother, the best in every way and I have been feeling like I was living on an knife edge of failure, terrified of the consequences for my kids if I got it wrong. But here in this picture, I see myself, I see some of the mothers that  came before me and I see the space of blank white paper that are the mothers who will come after me and because of me.
  I realise that I don't need to mother the world, I don't need to get it completely 100% right, that I am doing well enough and that within 3 or 4 generations I will be just a faceless, nameless link in the chain.
 In fact in the bigger picture, perhaps the main bulk of my job mothering is already done? I gave birth and I love...
 Maybe the rest is just window dressing?

Still, mothering for me is and has been more than just biology. It has been who I am and has been since the moment I knew I was carrying Rebe, nearly 8 years ago.
I have completely become mother. As I conceived Rebe I donned that Madonna's cloak and I have worn it night and day ever since.
The Madonna's cloak:  an almost tangible, nearly visible mother's love, flowing out from the mother and surrounding her children, enveloping them in security and care.
As each child weans, as each child finds their mobility, their words, their own two feet, their place in the world they move a little further away from the breast, from the mother within the cloak.
Separate, yet safe within the folds, each weaning takes them a little step further out from underneath the cloak until they are just barely hanging onto the hem, fingers waiting until that moment when they finally let go and walk off into their own separate future; their own selves.
But that is the cloak from the point of view of the child, and as inspired by Lucy I have been thinking about what that cloak has been to me.
When I put on the cloak, when I became mother, it was completely right. It has suited me and I wear it well.
At times it has been a security blanket, I have used and needed it to be my identity, to protect me from 'out there' to be my reason for NOT doing, for not being something else.
At times it has been like a straight jacket: stifling and restrictive and completely impossible to take off.
But what I see now, what I understand, is that inside the cloak, inside the mother 'I' still existed.
In fact, as I birthed and nurtured and raised my children and did the same for myself.
'I' grew and changed and became stronger and more beautiful that I ever was before.
And now I nearly feel ready to emerge like a butterfly from it's chrysalis.
But I'm resting here, within the folds a while longer, making sure we are all old enough, ready enough, developed enough for me to take off this Madonna's cloak of mine, to fold it up and put it away in a chest in the attic, ready and waiting to be passed on to my child if and when she is ready to wear it.
To win a copy of Lucy's book Moods of Motherhood please leave a comment below. Tell me what 'Mother' means to you?
You can have multiple entries by doing the following:

Be sure you come back here and leave a comment for each separate thing you do, each comment counts as an entry. The winner will be selected by a random generator on the 16th of November.


  1. Mothering to me is caring, loving, nurturing, feeding the minds and bodies of those I have given birth to and also those I love and care about around me. I don't think I will ever lose my mothering cloak (as you call it) - even as they grow older they still need caring, loving, nurturing, feeding but just in different ways.

  2. "mother" for me should be a safe, warm, comforting place forever - that's what I aim for with my kids anyway! I'd love to win a copy of this fabulous sounding book for our Attachment Parents Group library....


  3. Oh Laura this post spoke directly from your heart to mine.

    Being a mom changes and molds me in each and every moment of life. For me there is nothing else on this earth that has or will have to incrediable power to do that. Sometimes the constant changing and molding hurts so badly and some times it feels like my first morning stretch so very good.

  4. I really enjoyed this post, and Moods of Motherhood sounds fascinating. Mothering to me is a nurturing and unconditional love, caring, healing when needed, a guide. Mothering is very important to me, my children are teens now, and as my role shifts, I am always on the lookout for inspirational thoughts on this topic. Thanks for the opportunity.

  5. (via facebook) Janet O'Keeffe Murphy beautiful book

  6. (via facebook)Denise Ridgway Love a chance to read this xx

  7. (via facebook) Anna Moses I think every mother will be happy to read it