Mothering Instincts

mothers day 001_NEWI became a mother a year after I was married, when I was only 22. I had recently graduated Phi Beta Kappa from a prestigious women’s college, and the prevailing response to my new role was, “Why are you throwing away your education to be a mom?” followed closely by “Why are you throwing away the freedom of your twenties to be a mom?” I was wracked with anxiety about whether I was “old enough” to take on the awesome responsibility of Motherhood. I was a very young-looking mother; I got accosted in public places by people who felt compelled to tell me what I was doing wrong with my child and with my life.  I turned to my church community for support and was mentored by some wonderful women.  Then I took on a leadership role and led a group I called M.O.M.S. (Mothers Offering Mutual Support) for 9 years. These MOMS were mostly older than me and from an affluent suburb of Chicago.  Motherhood was most often discussed in terms of practical instruction in efficiency, in education, in success.

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Now that my nest is empty, I am turning my consciousness more and more to Nature.  It is now that I am more thoroughly accepting, befriending, and appreciating the tremendous biological grounding of life. I notice how my attitudes and concerns have shifted away from social influences. I feel the memories of Mothering in my body; I am beginning to forget the words, the events, the situations.  Childbearing was a fine activity for my twenties.  I gave birth 4 times without surgery or drugs. I rarely drank alcohol. I never smoked anything. I nursed all of my children for a full year.  In my thirties, I cuddled and carried and played. I was not an athlete, and I was not particularly wise about food, but I was healthy. In my forties, I was stressed. My husband was dying. My teen aged children were struggling. I started making relaxation a “conscious effort”. I found it difficult to regain my biological grounding, so I would go off to the prairies and woods near my home – alone – as often as I could.


Now, in my fifties, I am rarely stressed. I do notice a gentle waning of energy. I have zero gray hairs, but I do have drier, spottier skin. I don’t feel “old”, but I do feel “mellowed”.  

I suppose that my thoughts today on Motherhood are simply about the awesomeness of Life. As far removed as modern humans may be from the rhythms of biology, that pulse continues. When all the screens go dead, when all the mini-vans run out of gas, when all the PTAs and soccer leagues disperse and the suburban homes fall into the dust, there will still be the energy of Life seeking a new generation. It will find a way. I enjoy feeling part of that flow. 

14 thoughts on “Mothering Instincts

    • Dear Naomi – my good friend whom I’ve never met – it is a joy to share myself with you because you are one who handles every life with care and respect. Thank you for looking in on me today and Happy Mother’s Day!

      • Oh, Priscilla, my dear friend! I just shake my head in wonder that I was so fortunate to have stumbled onto your blog. One can say many things about the internet and social media, but it can also bring some meaningful connections. I don’t know it if has been three years or four. It didn’t take me long to learn that you were a person I needed to pay attention to; through your words and stories I always find warmth and wisdom and a unique perspective. Happy Mother’s Day!
        Sending love all the way from Seattle,

  1. This is so touching, Priscilla. When did it happen that people began to look down on motherhood–there is no greater gift. I’m not a mother but comfort myself with the thought that I have midwifed others into whatever follows this life and I try to life creatively now through the arts. I envy mothers but feel all is as it should be. So I share your joy.

    • Thank you, Victoria, for your visit and understanding. I think women began to look critically at motherhood and became vocal about it as part of the Feminist movement – as well they should. Critical thinking about who we are is a great learning step. When it degenerates into blame and rejection, though, it ceases to be a place of growth. Sad but true. However, there is a joy in motherhood that is resilient to criticism. This is what is worth pondering and preserving. 🙂

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