I was about to turn onto a busy four-lane street, when I saw a red Mustang stopped in one lane with a string of impatient drivers behind it. I thought the girls in the car must have been having engine trouble, but as I made my turn into the traffic, the car in front of me suddenly slammed on its breaks, stopping at the same spot those girls had. What was going on?
Then I saw it. For one long, sweet, breathtaking moment, I watched a speckled mama duck proudly waddle across the lanes with a dozen fluffy ducklings falling over each other to keep up with her.
They tumbled onto the curb in beautiful disarray like something out of slapstick routine as the mama pushed ahead in pursuit of safety. Thank God for careful drivers, I thought. And thank God for mothers.
That heart-opening moment made me think about the fragile things in our lives and our own role as mother. We are all mothers. In each of us, there is something young and tender that needs guidance, nurturing, and even the fierce protection of our love so it can grow to its fullest and express itself. Identifying what that is, I realized, can help us play our role of mother better.
Maybe what you’re giving birth to is a new habit or talent that needs shaping and support. Perhaps it’s a mission-driven project waiting to see the light of day or an ending that needs tending to so you can move on to new opportunities.
What’s the next part of you waiting to be born? And are you giving it the focus and attention it needs? Or are you too busy to recognize what it is or hear its voice?
Are You Listening to Yourself?
Abraham Maslow talked about the importance of being able to hear our own innerfeeling- voices. “An important part of self-knowledge,” wrote the prominent psychologist, “is being able to hear clearly these signals from the inside.” Many of us, however, have been trained to ignore our inner signals or put other things or people first. Yet honoring our inner impulses is what puts us in touch with our real purpose and makes us excited to share our passions – to give birth to the next stunningly beautiful part of ourselves.
If you’re one of those people (like me) who is better at giving to others than to yourself, it can take conscious intention and practice to listen for what your own inner voice is telling you. One thing that helps me get reconnected is to literally listen to my voice – to listen to how I am speaking rather than what I am saying.
We use this skill all the time to read others. We know a friend is upset or burdened when we hear her voice crack. We know our children are happy when they are animated and speak quickly. If we call a parent and we hear a listless voice at the other end of the phone, we know something is wrong. The tone tells it all.
While we’re accustomed to reading others in this way, we can get so caught up in what’s happening around us that we forget to listen to ourselves. Yet listening is what gives us valuable clues about how we can best mother that part of us trying to be born. If, for instance, you catch yourself sounding grumpy, impatient or tired, it’s probably time to ask, “What am I feeling and what do I need? What can I do to honor myself right now so I can give my best gifts to others?”
Likewise, when you catch that lilt of excitement in your voice or hear yourself happily whistling or humming away, take note. What are you doing or thinking about that is making your heart sing? That’s what can bring more joy into your life – and the lives of others – when you give birth to it again and again.
When you’re too busy to focus on what’s really important in your life, the part of you that is budding can become smothered instead of mothered.
To honor the nascent potential within you, practice asking yourself:
- What am I being called to give birth to, to mother, to bring to fruition?
- What is whispering within me to be recognized, nurtured, and protected?
- What choices can I make today to give that delicate, emerging part of myself what it needs to blossom?