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Wednesday, 24 September 2003

Unfolding As a Mother Mothering and Personal Growth

Written by  Chantal Danino Holt

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Upon the birth of my youngest child, my older daughter told me, "She is lucky to be born in this period of your life". There is a 17-year difference between my two daughters.
I have often thought about this, and, over the years, have come to the conclusion that each one of our children is mothered according to where we are in our growth process when we give birth to that child. My three children are markers in my life, each representing a different period, and a turning point.

My Child of Love

My first child was born when I was 22. Married at 18, straight out of high school, I saw the future blurred in a smoke screen of teen-age love towards my Prince Charming husband. She is my child of love, the physical manifestation of a union based on passion and innocence. What did I know about being a mother? After the birth, I felt alone, alienated, and guilty for not being the radiant mother and wife expected by my family and by myself. I plunged into a postpartum depression that lasted nine months.

As I came out of my soulquake, I realized that a first child can make or break a couple. I divorced when she was two years old. It was the mid-70s and I was swept away with the waves of the Women's Liberation Movement. Being a mother was now fun and we made a great team.

When she was four, I decided to start a new life in a new country. My thirst for freedom had a price: I could go but I had to leave my child behind until I 'proved' to the non-involved father that I was serious, settled and could take care of her. I left.

I was still not mature enough to realize the impact that separating from my young child would have on both our lives.

My daughter joined me in the new country nine months later, and we celebrated her 5th birthday in the joy of reunion. We were girlfriends. She was a full participant in my life as a young divorced mother, full of life and lacks and needs. She was the companion in my moments of happiness and those of despair. At times the situation felt like more than I could handle, but even in my darker periods, the thought of going back to the old country was not an option - I had tasted freedom, and, even if it had a bitter taste at times, I would never give it up. My daughter was my motivation to grow stronger.

My Child of Repair

At 30, I felt ready to commit myself to a serious relationship and I met my husband-to-be. Our son was born three years later. He is my child of repair. I mothered him in joy and wonder, amazed at the pleasure of doing the simplest things like feeding him his first juice. I was repeating gestures done for the first time 12 years earlier, this time with blissful relaxation. I was a late bloomer, finally coming to terms with motherhood and giving it the space that felt right for me. After a year of being a fulfilled at-home-mother, I decided to go back to studying psychology. I was ready to search for rational answers to existential questions.

Three years later, I became unexpectedly pregnant. I was not ready to give up my burgeoning sense of a strong self, and I was occupied with building a career. My first reaction was that it was bad timing. I wanted an abortion. Very soon, I realized that, even though I was pro-choice, I could not go ahead with it. The seed inside of me felt like a full human being and my instincts told me to keep it. At the beginning of the fourth month I had a spontaneous miscarriage. I was devastated. Again, guilt showed its ugly face, this time accompanied with grief, sadness, and an unbearable sense of loss.

I started to wonder about the meaning of painful experiences in my life. There had to be a reason, otherwise the pain was wasted and nothing made sense. Psychology gave me some of the answers, but if my mind was calmed, my heart was still longing for meaning. I became interested in alternative mind/body/spirit therapies.

My Child of Soul

I was 39 years old when I became pregnant for the last time. By then, I knew that souls have a timing of their own, and it is always perfect. She is my child of soul. Mothering her is easy because I have learned not to mold my children into what I want them to be, but to respect who they are in their essence. When I stray, they know how to realign me with their mothering needs with gentleness and firmness. They already know what it took me years to find out.

Soon after her birth, my partner and I decided to renew and strengthen our commitment and got married. The three children were present at the intimate ceremony.

There is no separation between who I am as a person and how I mother my children. From my work with energy as a Reiki Master, I know that each negative word said to my children leaves a hole in their inner being from which their self-confidence and self-esteem leaks. I also know that each word of love and each thought of love helps them to expand into their full potential.

I thank my children for choosing me as their mother. As I look at each one, I see myself at their ages and my heart swells with love and empathy for the soft-spoken and strong willed eight-year-old, the rebellious and bright 13-year-old, the gentle and free-spirited 25-year-old - all parts of myself, helping me to mother each one according to his and her uniqueness.

I have been a mother for a little bit more than half my life. Unfolding as a mother has been and is a daily challenge, an opportunity to grow and heal as a human being.

Last modified on Monday, 16 January 2012 18:45
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Chantal Danino Holt

Chantal Danino Holt

Chantal Danino Holt, the mother of three children, is one of the founders and volunteer directors of SHANI, a non-profit organization against child prostitution, and is also a social worker, Reiki Master, reflexologist, and works in visualization work and psychotherapy with individuals and couples, integrating mind/body/spirit healing with conventional psychology. During the year 1999-2000 she was the coordinator of the WholeFamily Marital Center.

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