This year I turn 46 and lovingly refer to myself as a “dry-wombed mother”. Not because I am old or shriveled, but because the odds are that I will never have a child… that’s the “dry-wombed” part. The “mother” part is that mamahood lives in all women — whether children are in the picture or not, mother energy lives in all of us. All women are mamas: This I know.
Let me tell you how I learned this: Feeling a bit catapulted from my youth, I shall enter my late 40’s come December. My husband is older than I am, having just turned 67. When we married nearly 13 years ago, we talked of the future and of having a child together. The back story is that he has raised three grown children and now has 6 sweet grandchildren. As time passed, the potential for us to become traditional parents faded into the background of our lives. We chose instead to travel the globe, adventure, and live abroad until we settled and built a life in the country. During this time of exploration, my husband became clear that he had completed the parenting dream and I realized how uncertain I was about being a mother anyway, within the context of our life as we had grown it. Slowly, the priority of having a child faded into the background. No big deal. No drama.
One weekend, I traveled with a girlfriend to attend a horse show. It was a long road trip, on which we talked of life and family, dreams and hopes. As we were driving home, some 3 hours into the trip, she was sharing about her children, and asked if I had ever wanted to have a child. I said that it wasn’t exactly that I didn’t want to have a child, but more that the timing never seemed right for both my husband and I and that I had come to be content with life as it was. She gently said, “That’s too bad. You would have made a really great mom.”
Woah. That hit me HARD. “…would have…” Past tense. Potential vanished. Dream gone.
I felt the entire weight of my body sink into my pelvis. The car got quiet and I looked out the passenger window and stared. I found myself feeling grateful we were almost home.
She dropped me off at my house and I went inside. I turned my phone on to find a text my husband had sent hours earlier. Amidst his joy, there were no written words, just a photograph of him with all of his grandchildren piled around him. Smiles everywhere. I hadn’t known he was going to travel to see the kids this weekend. I expected him home when I returned. He had conscientiously sent the photograph to let me know where he was.
The ocean of emotion swallowed me whole.
It was bigger and deeper and colder than I expected. I felt childless. Family-less. Alone. No emotions were exempt. I felt waves of happiness, reverence and respect. I felt grateful and happy that my husband was spending a day with the grandkids, immersed in giggles and play wrestling. I also felt angry, resentful and robbed of motherhood. I mourned, knowing that I would never know the smell of a child bore from my womb, or the ripple effect of my genes manifest in my blood grand babies.
I dropped to my knees and cried. I mourned as if I had lost a child. I had lost a child. My child never born. A dream never manifest. I mourned. I wailed. I wept. I crumbled.
I crawled into bed and watched day turn to night. I welcomed the darkness.
Sometime later, I awakened to my husband coming home… I heard the door open and the sound of him climbing the stairs. The waves of grief started again. I knew I must let these tears flow. My husband opened the door, smiling to greet me. He had no idea what was happening. He knelt beside the bed. He listened. I wept. He did his very best to understand. He rocked me as I felt him holding at bay the joy with which he was filled earlier that day. I needed to cry. I needed to be witnessed. And I needed, more than anything, to let go.
That was four years ago.
I’d like to step back to the beginning of this story, “we are all mamas. This I know.”
In the days and weeks ahead, I made a point to look for all the ways mama energy showed her face. To my delight, I found mama, me as mama, everywhere. The sadness fell away like a heavy burden set down by the side of the road, replaced with light-heartedness, gratitude and reverence for my life exactly as it was. I saw my own maternal instinct everywhere. It was joyous, and made me laugh out loud. I received emails, unsolicited from students telling me how much they appreciated me listening while they navigated a difficult decision, and how “full” they felt after my classes. I was flippantly called “ma” and told how safe and comfortable they felt in my presence. I even received an unusual email from a colleague referring to me as the “embodiment of the divine mother”.
I was nourishing and nurturing and acting as a “womb” to gestate light and clarity.
I realized that when I opened my eyes, what I saw was that I AM a mother.
Today, I am acutely conscious of this energy. I am intentional about being a container, a “womb” for love and light to grow. I make bold efforts to nourish and nurture and hold space for those who want to rest into the arms of divinity. I go where I am called when I am called. I hold bedside vigil when an angel is needed to escort life across the veil. I sit beside students who, when lying in savasana, are overcome with grief. I answer the phone and emails when students are needing mama and she no longer is alive. I fill brown paper sacks and hand them out my car window to those in need at the stoplight.
I’ve come to understand that being a mama is about embodying the essence of the divine feminine. It is about holding sacred space for growth to happen, reflecting love, and being gentle when gentleness is needed—ferocious when ferocity is needed. Being a mama is about nurturing, nourishing, holding, and guiding those who are wandering toward safety. Being mama is not so much about bearing children or having little ones running around who share your last name—(although this is full-on mama). Mama is also about being able to stand tall and to look out into the cosmic playground, with bursting heart and arms wide open and say, with or without words, “I’ll keep you safe. I’ll dry your eyes. I’ll clean your wounds. Come. Come to Mama. I’m right here.”
Britt is described as a thought leader, love preacher, truth seeker, and yoga teacher. She is the author of Pilgrim: Live Your Yoga Every Single Day and is a guiding light in the yoga & ayurveda worlds, dedicated to bringing their powerful & simple teachings to the forefront of life today. She works with students and teachers alike to discover the hidden depths of yoga and to bring these potent teachings into day to day life.
Britt lives with her husband at Deva Daaru YogaFarm, an hour outside Portland, Oregon where she lives her yoga, shares her teachings through online programs, facilitates yoga teacher trainings, and hosts Live Your Yoga events & Daycations.