Reprinted with permission from http://motherhoodlater.co on 3-18-16
Can you imagine traveling in time and returning to the present with the gift of a new perspective? Going back to your past might help you realize a solution to a current problem, while going forward might comfort you with guidance from a wise great grandmother, your own inner elder. If you met this wise older woman, what would you want to learn from her? How could she help you and inspire you? In my mind’s eye I see my own inner wise elder as a loving “crone.” My image of her is fashioned from life experience and from the wisdom of an older mother who befriended me during a very difficult time almost thirty years ago.
Kathy and I were volunteers at a local counseling center. At thirty-four, I was newly separated. Kathy, at almost fifty, had raised four kids as a single mother. On my own after thirteen years of marriage, and with two little girls to bring up, I was angry and scared. I needed support to face the challenges of single motherhood. Kathy was willing and able to give it.
Determined to transform me from victim to valiant, Kathy moved in with me for a month. Each night after the children were in bed, she “tutored” me in the ways of becoming resilient and strong as a single mother and as a woman. With humor and compassion, Kathy shared much wisdom with me. The essence was this:
“You have strengths and abilities that do not depend on anyone else, including a man. You can cope and survive, and you will grow more as a mother and as a woman than you ever believed possible.”
Kathy’s truths have been affirmed through many years of growing more than I ever believed possible. I remained single for seventeen years. I raised my children through many challenges including the death of their father when he was thirty-nine and they were not yet adolescents. I graduated from social work school and opened two clinical practices. I survived financial crises, kept ownership of my house, and put my girls through college.
I have seen my adult daughters start careers, get married and give birth to my four grandchildren. In 1994 I remarried. And now, although married for many years, my single mother heartstrings can still be tweaked by certain memories and events. When circumstances bring up painful feelings, I like to take a couple gentle breaths and travel.
On my journey I may visit Kathy and me, deep in discussion at my kitchen table. As often we did, we are playing with the little wooden soldier Kathy brought me. When you pressed a button on his head, it made a certain anatomical part stick out. Each time I crumpled, Kathy handed me the doll. Our laughter soothed me and created emotional space for me to absorb her wisdom. Once again I hear Kathy say, “You will be grateful for all your experiences.” I wasn’t sure I believed her then, but when I consider all I have faced, I have faith in this truth.
On other occasions, I travel back to see myself at forty, comforting my grieving children after their father has died. Entering the scene as the older mother I am now, I reassure my devastated younger Self that she and her children will be okay. I tell her that she will face many challenges with resilience and strength. I tell her about the maturity she will develop as a mother and as a woman. Her relief comforts me, and I return to my future reassured of my path.
When I am particularly sad or worried, I travel forward to be with my wise inner crone. As Kathy did back then, this loving great grandmother offers wise guidance now. She reminds me that my courage in years past will continue to sustain me now and through whatever is to come. She sends me back to my present inspired with new hope for my future.
With a little curiosity and the power of imagination you too can travel. You can visit yourself as a younger, older or elder mother. If you choose to meet your Self as a wise great grandmother, allow her to assure you of your resilience and strength as a mother and as a woman. She can affirm all that you do, have done and will do for your children. She will validate the many ways you care for your Self. You can trust her soul wisdom, for hers is yours at any age of your life.