the spiral of motherhood

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In my basement, I created a physical spiral today; the pathway made from a combination of sentimental keepsakes from my children’s early years along with mundane items of day-to-day life. Items such as clothes and bonnets I’ve sewed, pictures they’ve painted, photos—both printed and digital, and school creations. Each of these items feel like a small award ribbon of mothering: props for the job of keeping them alive, and keeping myself alive. Both are significant. 

Next I lit a candle for each child at the center of this spiral and prayerfully, after it was set up, I walked the physical representation of my mother spiral. 

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I entered my spiral of motherhood at the age of 27 and I will inhabit its expansiveness for as long as I live, knowing that as the years progress, my spiral will wind in ever widening circles. 

With the birth of my first child, I began the journey of my spiral. Pulsing, spinning, the spiral of motherhood is one of going into the mystery, never seeing too far ahead, foresight impeded by curvature. Within this spiral is the light of naming my babies, each one, and holding their small soft bodies in my waiting arms.  The folding in of the spiral takes both the bone-tired, fraying parts of mothering and beckons me further inward to witness the sheer joy of my littles’ first laughs, first words, secret moments accompanied by lullabies, and curiosity exploring. There is light found in being taken to greater depths of intimacy with my children, getting to know who they are. There is light found in experiences that soften and stretch my every fiber, helping to shape a way of mothering that becomes holy, illuminated.

Yet, at times my spiral was inhospitable. Mothering found me in shambles and desperate to exit the rotation of my spiral. It was a place of isolation and anxiety. The mommy neediness was too much some days. Battered with their routine and an almost unquenchable desire for my personal space, I was often brought to the edge of myself, not the best version of who I am.

But it takes bravery and mama-bear strength to continue on this path of motherhood. It takes pauses to remember that the light I illuminate is being absorbed by my children. And it’s remembering that this journey is best done with companions who are also walking their own spiral of motherhood; souls who are finding their way in grace-filled spirals.

 

History of the Winter Spiral Celebration:

A winter spiral is an event that takes place during the advent season, its history is over a hundred years ago beginning in Europe. This is a celebration of quiet confidence, of carrying light in darkness, of sharing that light with others. Evergreen branches form the path of the spiral. A participant enters the spiral with an unlit candle, winds his/her way into the center, and lights the candle they hold, walking back out of the spiral, but leaving their candle along the path. It is a meaningful event in the middle of cold, shorter sun-filled days remembering the light we hold within ourselves and carry out into the world gives us hope.