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“After the Storm,” in the months following another miscarriage, a mother restores her sense of hope in her womb on a rock by the river. She doesn’t yet know that she’ll be pregnant with her first born later this year. Photo by Colin A. Danville

You might need to be a mother to feel whole in this life
© 2016 by Binahkaye Joy

Every woman is different. For some this will deeply resonate. For some this will not make a wave in your spirit. For some this will sting. For some this will push you to the edge, finally. This will bring about a courageous and terrifying leap and initiate the work you know you are supposed to be doing with your womb. For some this will be the first time you admit that you are in fact a mother, even though your children are yet born, or yet known to you.

It’s not a mistake that you are seeing this, right now, at whatever space in life you happen to be. It’s not coincidence that you’ve been navigating the whys and hows of your fertility practices with increasing intensity and are now confronted with a truth so loud there is nowhere left to hide, or deflect, or dismiss. This is not “baby fever.” Your ovaries are not “itching.” There is nothing comical or witty about this calling on your soul to be a mother, or if you’re already a mother, to have more children.

This is not make believe. This is real. This is how babies get born. This is why each member of the human population exists. Some mother allows the possibility of life to take root beyond just a thought in her head. This is why you get to exist. Someone, your mother, said yes to the reality of your life. It’s now your turn to do the same.

Once you acknowledge the magnitude of the mothering path that has been placed on your life, you begin the work of being a mother. For me, I came into this awareness almost seven years before I ever held my own baby in my arms. At the time of my mothering revelation I was in a relationship with a man who I imagined was my soulmate. I ignored all sorts of signs that he wasn’t, and pretended instead that time and persistence would help him come around to seeing how amazing a life with me would be. On the morning that I first said anything out loud about my interest in becoming a mother, he laughed. That I didn’t walk away then, or rather hadn’t already walked away because of other clear incompatibilities, is one of the hardest parts of my story to reconcile. So much grief was born of that denial. In that one snicker, he showed who he was and who he was not. And still I stayed too long, trying to forge a reality that was not real.

For those of us partnering with men to conceive our children, it is critical that we be in a space of radical honesty about the mothering imperative we feel in our hearts. If you do not feel safe, supported, enthusiastic, hopeful, or confident that the man inserting his penis into your vagina can authentically and lovingly hold space for your mothering dreams, then that is something you need to process and make an informed decision about before approaching the moment of conception. It is totally possible to create a child with someone who is not your perfect match. This happens all the time. Beautiful, amazing children come from these unions too. For some mothers, this will be your path. You are no less a mother, however unworthy some people in our society would lead you to believe.

But if it is important to you that the father or fathers of your children honor your humanity as a mother, and respect your rights as a mother, then these are ongoing conversations you need to have with yourself and with the men you are allowing to access your womb.

If your journey to embodied mothering is through alternate forms of conception, surrogacy, adoption, or other paths not always visible in motherhood spaces, it is still essential that you speak in a manner of ultra transparency about your calling as a mother with yourself and anyone who is partnering with you. There is specific work that will take over parts of your life, or perhaps, if you’re like me, all of your life. Whoever is in your intimate space will need to understand the weight of your calling. You must decide if they truly do enhance your mothering work, or rather present opposition to the fullest realizations of your mothering dreams.

When you step into this calling, you see early on that being a mother is not something you do on the side. It is everything. And how you wrap your life patterns around the enormity of that everything is your choice as a mother. Every mothering journey is unique, and you have to know that for the sake of your life, and for the sake of your children’s and your future children’s lives, you have a responsibility to center your process as a mother if that is what you need to do.

This means something different for everyone. For me centering my mothering work means that I consider the implications of every choice in my life as it relates to my calling as a mother. For you, it might stimulate other forms of inquiry. Your intuition will lead you through the questions you need to ask and answer. You might need a journal, or some special place to capture your thoughts. You might need your sister to hold your hand as you utter these truths aloud for the first time. Whatever it is you have to do, create an opening for these deep soul dialogues, and keep that channel clear always.

Do you need to end a relationship that does not nurture the radiant space that is essential for the evolution of your mothering work? Is your current job sucking the life force out of your womb? Do you need to move to a new city where every street corner does not remind you of some abuse or violation you experienced years ago? Are you at all conflicted about your choice of birth control? Is it even your choice to be on birth control? Are you worried that the abortion you had in college has left some scar on your future opportunities to be a mother? Have you been putting off that call to the fertility clinic to schedule your first appointment? Are you afraid that saying yes to your mothering process will jeopardize all you’ve managed to fortify inside these corporate, male-dominated systems, systems intentionally designed to be anti-mothering spaces? Do you see pregnant women everywhere you go and feel both a burst of hope and grief? Have you been secretly considering adoption for some time now? Do you go to sleep thinking about baby names? Do you lament the sight of blood in the first hours of your menses?

You have a lot of work to do. Before seeing a positive result on a pregnancy test, or listening to the heartbeat for the first time, or cleaning poop out of who know’s where, or singing a lullaby so your baby will fall asleep–before all of that, there is so much work to do as a mother. Acknowledging this work, giving it a name, giving it room to happen in your life matters greatly to how your process as a mother will unfold. Ask yourself, everyday if you need to, What is my story as a mother? How are you being ushered into this work? Why are you saying yes? Where is your circle of mothers to support you in your calling as a mother?

So no, you are not crazy for wanting to be a mother! You are not obsessed. You do not have to wait until someone else gives you permission to activate your motherself. This is your body, your life. It’s time when you say it’s time. The reason you feel empty in moments that are supposed to be the height of your joy–moments of great achievement in the world– is because this critical component of your being, this spiritual commitment you made to preserve the opportunity of life for your children is going unfulfilled.

It is entirely possible that everything will continue to feel out of sorts, stagnant, or unaligned in your life until you embrace the fullness of your mothering path. Finances, career, fertility, emotional wellness, education goals, creative practice, family issues, relationships, hormone imbalances, housing, your sense of belongingness and community–your motherself is the most influential determinant of every other area of your life. This is because as mother you represent the source of life. If in your gut you know that you are not doing everything you can to honor the sacredness and power of that mothering work with the life your mother gave you, then there will be a pervasive and depressing void that grows, a shadow that haunts you through every pivotal milestone. It will hover and cling to you, reminding you always that something is still missing from your life.

But nothing has to ever stay that way. Today is your day to be the mother you need to be. Pick up this calling with both hands, however unwieldy or impractical it might seem. Trust your path. Mothering work is the creator’s work, and it will always make a way for itself. Its ringing will only grow stronger in your heart. You will never be able to unhear the truth of who you are. Dear sister of mine, whoever you are, wherever you are, do whatever it is you have to do to be a mother. There is no one else you need to convince; you are worthy of being a mother as you are. Go ahead, live within the fullness of your motherself, however you envision her to be. There you will know freedom. There you will be whole, and abundantly so.

Follow-up essay: “Yes it Hurts”: Mothering Work, Labor Pains & Possibility


Binahkaye Joy lives in Washington, DC with her husband James, and their sons, Bloom and Wonder. She is available for in-person and virtual workshops, speaking engagements, and private sessions. For booking and programming information send inquiries to thefamily.dances@gmail.com.