My Calling as Your Mother

Dear Daughter,

My calling as your mother is to
lead you in the art of
seeing yourself as
a Beloved,

to show you how to
regard your body
as a Temple,

to hold space
for you to
find your
voice,

and to be
a nourishing light
on your path of embodying
your power and magnificent light.

Lisa McCrohan © 2017

“I wonder what design I’ll get,” My daughter wondered aloud to me when she woke up on Sunday.  She was talking about the henna design she would get at the Illuminate Frederick festival that my dear friend, Judy Bazis, runs.  Every year, my daughter looks forward to this festival, and she first goes to the henna table to sign up for a timeslot with artist, Elisa Rodero.

I marvel in my daughter’s love for the ethereal, the spiritual, and the sensual.  “She’s like you,” my mom once told me.  And though my life is about weaving together the sacred and the “everyday,” my daughter so naturally embodies this.

In the first few years of her life, I recognized how our world seeks to objectify, mold, quiet, and label a girl from when she is born.  And it came to me that my calling as a mom to a daughter is to be the sacred space that shows her how to treat herself with regard and integrity.

I remember a moment when my daughter was just two years old and a man at church saw me and my daughter exiting mass, he bent down to talk to my daughter and said, “Oh aren’t you cute?!  I like you in that dress.”  And then he touched her face.  My daughter instinctually pulled away from him.  He wasn’t trying to be creepy.  He was doing what is accepted of a white man in a patriarchal culture:  orienting everything around his pleasure.  Even another human being.

I was so caught off guard that I took on the “default” posture that many of us women have been socialized to do:  I didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable.   I politely laughed and walked off with my daughter.

But I knew what he did wasn’t right  – even if it is an everyday occurrence in our world – in the classroom, boardroom, and church.  I knew that I wanted to show my daughter how to have regard for herself – her body and personal integrity.  I wanted her to learn to regard herself as a temple and treat herself as a beloved.

When we got in the car, I looked at my daughter and said, “I don’t know how to do this YET, but I am going to show you that what just happened is not okay.  It is NOT okay for someone to come up and touch you.  Your body is YOUR body.  And you don’t have to make anyone happy with a smile or what you wear.  And I’m going to try to show you in life how to treat yourself with regard and treat your body as a temple.”  She was two.  But she understood at that moment that her mom was about her and her integrity.

I have come to recognize that if my calling as my daughter’s mother is to lead her in the art of seeing herself as a beloved, then I must lead by example.  Over the years, I started to have a deeper sense of regard for my own self – my body and my personal integrity.  I have started to more deeply regard myself as a temple and treat myself as a beloved.

I intentionally show my daughter how I care for my body.  I let her see me resting, eating, and moving my body.  I let her watch me as I comb my hair.  I talk to her about how a woman is to choose clothes based on how they make her feel and if they are comfortable for her body.  She sees me stretch and exercise.  She sees me taking naps.

I share with her that there are times when it is necessary for a woman – a mom – to have her own quiet time – of prayer, work, and retreat.  She sees me at my desk writing.  She hears me talking to her dad, “I’m going to take a bath now” or “I am going to spend some time writing,” and dad is the point-person who is “on” for questions as they arise for our children.  I have boundaries and limits.  I want my daughter to know that her wellbeing matters, too.

I do not want her to live life serving others at the expense of depleting herself.

I let my daughter see me as a professional woman and getting paid for the work I do.  I talk to her about my calling to write and lead.  She knows that I am a psychotherapist, author, and leader.  She hears me and Brian talking about requests that come in for me to talk at events or lead workshops and how we negotiate contracts.  Yes, she hears us talking about social justice and serving our community.  But I also want her to know that a woman in any profession – especially an artist as she may well become – isn’t to be expected to give her decades of hard work, education, and training away for free to every single person who asks.  I will not have my daughter think of herself last nor undervalue herself.

“My calling as your mother is to lead you in the art of seeing yourself as a beloved.”

My daughter hears me talking about supporting other women and young girls.  I want her to hear me encouraging other women and building them up, investing in their work, and supporting their creative endeavors.  She knows that these bowls we just bought were made by another mom, Ann Marie Long.

She hears me tell my friend Jenn what an incredible voice she has.  She sees me regarding her friends who come over – the way I talk to them, the way I listen to them.

A few years ago, my daughter heard me negotiating with our babysitter, *Julie, when I asked her, “What’s your fee?”

Julie said, “Oh just pay me whatever.  It’s fine.”

And I said, “Julie, I am about supporting women being paid fairly for their work and time.  Let’s figure out a rate that feels like it honors your presence, training, and time.”

My daughter and I talk about the power of images – and how we are made in God’s image.  And that GOD is both male and female.  “But we only hear ‘he’ at mass,” she recently said.  And that opened the door for a conversation about the history of religion, fear, patriarchy, the balance of power, and the inherent power of women, our bodies, and our wisdom.

“My calling as your mother is to….be a nourishing light on your path of embodying your power and magnificent light.”

And her light (in her feminine body) and the divine’s light are one in the same.

Isn’t this what we want for our girls?  For the next generation of women leaders, artists, teachers, doctors, architects, programmers, moms, and politicians?

Before you go thinking that I am “perfect” at this, I am not.  I don’t intend or try to be.  I have my own moments of disregarding myself and those closest to me.  But that is part of my own unfolding and growing.

Perfection and comparing keep us from realizing and embodying our brilliance and our inherent power.  Enough.

Instead, let’s be about “unfolding” and “encouraging.”  Let’s see ourselves not as grasping for perfection, but steadfastly remembering our inherent power and goodness.  Let’s uplift and encourage one another.

Let’s pay babysitters, nannies, and cleaning women just and sustainable wages that value the integrity of women.  Let’s pay artists for their time and talent.  Let’s support one another on the playground and in the boardroom.

And let’s treat ourselves with regard and integrity.  Let’s lead our daughters by example – claiming ourselves as “beloved” as we remember our inherent divinity.

Our light is rising.  Times are changing.  And our daughters will inherit our regard and love.  They will be the bearers of a new light shining.

 

*************************************

Dear Ones, here are some beautiful resources for you:

You can find my Regarding Our Girls on-demand course that’s filled with feminine embodiment practices for you to engage in and teach your daughter.

Illuminate Festivals are growing and reaching new cities!  Check them out here.

Elisa does the most beautiful henna work.  You can find her work here.

Ann Marie Long makes these beautiful hand-made baskets.  I have three delightful ones and am planning on buying more for holiday gifts. You can find her FB page here.

Meghan Nathanson is a beautiful writer.  I deeply regard her work.  She is raising two boys and I appreciate the stories she shares that honor their integrity.  She is a gifted artist, too. You can find her work here.

You can find signed copies of my book, Gems of Delight, which serves as a powerful and nourishing accompaniment to you throughout each season.

Finally, I’ve created an incredible online, on-demand course, Regarding Our Children, where I share nine necessary and nourishing rich lessons that will help us as parents to feel confident in our parenting and help our children to be resilient, be safe, and be healthy.  You can find out more here.

Blessings,
Lisa

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