I read this post on Elephant Journal this week about the 4 Phases of a Woman’s life (as the author had been told).
She writes:” These are the Playful Child, the Sexy Seductress, the Good Mother and the Wise Older Woman (WOW). I was told this as I was entering into the “Good Mother” phase. I accepted it readily and kept the notion at the back of my mind as I observed women throughout the years and placed them in their appropriate category.”
And while I’m not keen on another way to categorize women, not fond of one more box to throw us in, I’ve been thinking about my life in these phases over the last couple days. I have been the playful child. I spent the early years of my childhood living well outside city limits & well within a very imaginative mind. Many of my days were spent alone–with my feet & hands in the dirt and my mind “in the clouds.” While I made my fair share of mudpies, I don’t know if I fully fit the “playful” mold because play implies doing & I spent a lot of time dreaming. But I did play in my own imaginative world. A lot.
The Sexy Seductress makes me laugh & cringe at the same time. Not because I didn’t flirt with that phase, but because it seems so empty to me now. The Sexy Seductress phase in my own life was a phase that I spent in self-loathing. Being uber-tall, I haven’t ever really felt sexy. Awkward? Yes. Clumsy? Uh-huh. Big? Yup. But in my teens-mid twenties, I desperately wanted to be wanted. I could blame it on mass media–my disordered eating and distorted body image, but it all boils down to the fact that I did not love myself, so I worked very hard at molding myself into something I thought would be loved. Something thinner. Something less dreamy. Something less mindful. Something fun and at least athletic looking, and more simple. Or dare I say even a bit shallow. (Not that I still don’t love chick flicks & painting my toenails or having girly chats with old friends). Anyway, when I look at this picture now, I don’t see sexy, I see lost and lonely.
Which brings me to another VERY important phase of my life. Seeker. I’ll address this later. Next up:
The Good Mother. This phase rocked me. Is rocking me. Is causing whatever expectations of who I am & what I thought I wanted to sink like a stone. Is giving me depth & wrinkles, beauty & exhaustion. Every. Single. Day.
I don’t know if I’m a good mother, but being a mother makes me want to be better. It makes me choose health–in everything I do because I know that it is my body & soul that is sustaining a life outside of my own. Each day I learn a love like I have never known. Each day I learn the world over–even if the world is as small as a window from which we are watching the rain. Each day is a miracle that I try so desperately hard to see through bleary eyes that haven’t slept more than 3 hours at a time in 4.5 months. That we–any of us–are here; that we have grown inside a womb, been birthed; been nourished by our mother’s care; that we breathe in and out–this is something to be in awe of. I didn’t realize that until I spent hours watching my son breathe, until I spent hours nursing him, until I spent months feeling my body change as he grew within me.
But what about those of us who can’t be mothers? Or choose to not have children? Am I not as good of a mother if I only have one child? Again-this is why I’m not so sure about these labels–these boxes. But what I can say is that I needed this experience. That maybe this is the way that God saved me from my egoic self. Not all of us need to be saved in the same way.
The Wise Older Woman. I’m not there yet. But I think that being a Seeker will help me get there as much as any other Archetype/Phase I may assume. I could be a mother, but not learn what it had to teach. A woman could NOT be a mother and learn from her own wound/miracle/story/breath/phase/cancer/beauty/life/day/minute/moment. It’s in what we seek. It’s in Who we seek. And it’s if we can see that God, that light within ourselves. And then let that light shine out towards others. I think. As I said, I’m not the WOW yet. So I’ll leave you with this:
I prop my face up and go out, avoiding the sunlight
keeping away from the curve where the burnt road
touches the sky.
Whatever exists at the earth’s centre will get me
sooner or later. Sooner. Than I think.
That core of light squeezed tight
and shut, dense as a star, as molten
mirrors. Dark red and heavy. Slab at the butcher’s.
Already it’s dragging me down, already
I become shorter, infinitesimally.
The bones of my legs thicken–that’s the first–
contract, like muscles.
After that comes the frailty, a dry wind blowing
inside my body,
scouring me from within, as if I were
a fossil, the soft parts eaten away.
Soon I will turn to calcium. It starts with the heart.
I do a lot of washing. I wash everything.
If only i could get this clean once, before I die.
To see God, they told me, you do not go
into the forest or city; not the meadow,
the seashore unless even if it is cold.
You go to the desert.
You think of sand.
With love from Colorado,