Creating Yourself: Something Maya Taught Me

It's the last week of my 21-day recon trip to NYC. I've spent the last two weeks getting to know this wonderful city and her occupants. As you probably know by now, during my stay Maya Angelou died. On the very same day, I received a text from my bestie that their dog had killed their blind chicken named Special Ed. So there we all were, in the heart of the Circle of Life, explaining coming and going one way or another. It made me wonder if you too thought a little about your role in life, and how it's changed in the past years or months or days. 

One reel that spun for me was the concept of creating yourself. I read a quote early in the day from Maya reading, "I created myself. I have taught myself so much." I have to say the cool part of my work is getting to be part of a process and witness the energy and experiences of women "re-creating" themselves during early motherhood. I think of all the births I've attended over the past decade of my life and how women literally made a choice, in labor, to forge and create a whole new path in life. Willingly and un-willingly. 

In these moments, there is (of course) the immediate, "OMG...We're parents," moment after your baby is bornHowever, what I've learned in this decade of Maternal Health work is that the deepest work, the biggest transformation in a mommas life comes in the years to follow. Because, as your babies grow up so do you.  

For those of you beyond the early years, you give your sister-momma's advice that you "wish you'd go easier on yourself," during the early months. But, being a sort of Type-A, fierce, high-energy, "I fix it (all) on my own" kind of woman, I have also learned that when we hear that kind of wisdom (even from a loved one) I often bring my ear-muffs. You will hear what your people are lovingly saying when you're ready. 

All that said, these thoughts on "creating" yourself brought up a lot of conversation about the loss of independence you experience when you have your babies. There's not a lot of room in our culture to acknowledge the creation and change into motherhood, which can bring up a lot of grief for women. But, many times we don't know that it's grief we're experiencing. 

It's crucial to acknowledge the loss of independence - the grief that we can't really acknowledge the shock of loving harder and deeper and with that unexplainable love (no words describe it); the anger and resentment that can show up when your lover gets to sleep through the night and you don't; mourning your ability to get out of the house quickly and easily and on a whim (yah that ain't happening anymore); and denial that the transformation into motherhood could be anything less than blissful. 

You gain freedom when you quit struggling against the inevitable changes that are constant in the early years of motherhood. Think of all the work your child has to do physically to grow and learn. You do too! So allow yourself the room to soften. Create something new, in you.  

Now tell me, what are some of the ways you've learned to thrive in your transformation into being a mom? How can you share your wisdom with one of your momma friends this week to give her insight and help her create herself? Tell me in the comments below. 

The wise and brave Maya said, "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." We are totally blessed to have had this woman as a leader, lover and iconic expression of humor and soul. Dear Maya, you gave us all so much. From grace, wisdom, vitality, inspiration, and spiritual grounding. You lead us all to be better women. Indebted to your devotion and love, we will miss you something fierce. 

Big BIG Love, 

R