I have spoken of my love for Aliens in this blog on intuitive eating (Aliens and intuitive eating? YES!)
Sigourney Weaver plays the central character Ellen Ripley, a leader and a warrior. To get a taste of Ripley, watch the clip below where she is about to enter the alien hive in order to find and rescue her adoptive daughter, just as the colony is minutes away from exploding. It's pure badass.
Aliens is one of the rare movies where a female is the lead role heroine AND she is not hyper-sexualised.
I mean, Wonder Woman and Tomb Raider are OK and maybe make small inroads in the eternal quest for equal gender representation in action movies, but who seriously fights villians in high heeled boots whilst maintaining deep cleavage, and a full face of make up? Practicality and believability factor: zero.
Ripley is also a mother.
The four primary female archetypes:
Queen, Mother, Wise Woman, Lover.
The four primary male archetypes:
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover.
Where is the female warrior? I see an obvious pairing between the male and female variations of all the other archetypes, except for the mother-warrior duality. Is there no female version of the warrior?
Maybe, as Ripley so beautifully demonstrates in Aliens, a woman can take on both archetypes simultaneously. In the movie Ripley's motherly instinct is the entire reason why she is such a badass and in the final scenes, despite being scared out of her wits, goes down into the guts of hell to rescue an adoptive little girl from the clutches of a truly terrifying monster.
Maybe, the mother IS the warrior. I can absolutely relate to this. Maybe you can too.
Kairi's angelic sleeping face is the last thing I see before I go to bed every night. It's the closest to God (whatever you conceive that to be) I get each day.
I've now spent the last three and a bit years mothering. Looking after little people at all hours, being in a chronically sleep deprived state unless I make BIG efforts to get a daytime nap, having to make sure I eat enough to fuel the enormous demands on my body.
I tandem breastfed Kairi and Archie until Kairi was six months old and Archie was nearly three years old (I'm craaaazy like that). It was fine until it wasn't fine, and then I weaned Archie much to his dismay. Kairi is now nearly one and still breastfeeding, and it doesn't look like she's going to wean herself anytime soon. Archie goes to a family daycare one day a week. The rest of the time he's with Andreas, Kairi and I.
For me, the way I've chosen to mother has meant putting the brakes on most other "big" areas in my life I value, including study, travel and building my business in a meaningful way.
I know you're not meant to say it, but becoming a mum has been the biggest career stall I've ever experienced.
It's a break that I probably will never be able to "catch up" on. And that's all totally ok with me. My kids are incredible little beings and I have no regrets.
But these last three years have also been some of the toughest years of my life. I really love and am passionate about my work and have missed it. At times I've felt resentful that I've had to stay at home and look after small children while my husband goes off to work or goes for a casual surf, his life seemingly having not changed at all.
Work is WAY easier than looking after little kids! Mums are unbelievably strong.
When Kairi was six months old the itch in my feet became unbearable and I started working again, just a little bit. It felt SO good to be back in the clinic with ADULT clients having (mostly) ADULT conversations!
I felt useful again, beyond "just being a mum" - which is horrible to say because "just being a mum" is MASSIVE and actually the most important job ever. But, recovering perfectionist and overachiever here!
The work I've been doing since I started again is pretty much all clinic - cerebral stuff, eating disorder professional development, online study in the small pockets of time I get to myself when children are asleep or playing. I didn't feel a strong urge to go back to teaching yoga or doing much physical on a professional level. My head was where I escaped to when I had the chance to work. It felt safe, and good to use my brain again.
Not only have I felt the urge to go back to work. I've had to work to earn enough money to support my family. With the sudden death of my husband's mum (and his father's death just two years before that a few months after Archie was born), he's pulled back from work to process and heal his heart. So, I've had to step up.
In 2018 I was a mother and a warrior.
In the last year I've faced some of my demons, my greatest fears: inadequacy and worthlessness. At the time I've needed to rely on my skills most, I've doubted those skills more than ever. Felt I'm not enough. I've fucked up. I've hurt people. I've nearly ended relationships because of how much I doubted myself. I learnt some hard lessons last year in facing this shadow side.
But even without the deaths and births and tiredness and house moves and car accidents and all the other heavy duty shit that happened last year, I still think warrior mode is where I have to be a lot of the time as a mum IN GENERAL.
Maybe, if you're a mum, you've found this too.
Maybe, to be a mother you must also be a warrior.
Feeding your demons
The Mother is a life giver who maintains humanity as the warrior clears the space for renewal and change... Just as the Warrior appears most fully when he gives himself over to death in an act of self-denial, the Mother appears most fully when she gives birth. Warriors take life, Mothers give life. This is the source of her power.
- FallenAngel at http://stottilien.com
There's Mother, and there's mum.
In my experience being an actual mum to little children in our modern society seems to necessitate a combination of both the Mother and Warrior archetypes.
To be a mother is to give life, to nurture, to love unconditionally. But it seems that to make space for all of this life-giving you have to clear away the old debris of shit that no longer serves, if not initially then at least as you go along figuring out the whole mothering gig.
You have to destroy, to "end the life" of some of the unhelpful constructs you've hauled in from your teens/twenties/pre-mothering years.
In my case, things like self-centredness; an immature, kind of self-indulgent self doubt; and a victim mentality. An "Oh it's all so hard and I'm so small and frail, I just am not good/strong/smart enough to do this" attitude.
This worthlessness stuff really raised its ugly head for me last year in the face of the many challenges my family has endured. It shone a painfully bright spotlight on trauma and beliefs subconsciously running the show that I had swept under the rug for years. I mean YEARS, since I was maybe 12.
Well fuck that. As a mother - both in archetypal and biological terms - I've realised that you have to step up and be bold, be brave. Acknowledge those feelings and get shit done anyway, because now people are relying on you and you don't have the luxury of wallowing in self-doubt and fear for too long.
As a mother we face those demons head on, then transmute and transform them into something useful instead of letting them get in the way of doing important shit.
On a practical note: Lama Tsultrim Allione's tibetan buddhist practice of Feeding Your Demons has helped me immensely with this, as have her dakini mandala meditations in her awesome book Wisdom Rising. I discovered Lama Tsultrim Allione through one of my teachers Lhamo Lotscher and this incredible course of hers.
To be a mum, there is creation and destruction, Brahma and Shiva. Life and death. Mother and Warrior.
This is a necessary part of metamorphosis into the mature female, moving from Maiden to Mother.
The old useless shrapnel of the ego that was blown apart when your child/ren was born, must be cleared before it piles up and gets in the way again where it can seriously affect your children or other important relationships.
Common to both Mother and Warrior are characteristics like being self-sacrificial. Being life/death gatekeepers. Being protectors. Endurance. Courage. Love.
I think the big one is Love.
This year I want to love more. That is my only resolution. It requires more bravery than I ever knew I had.
But with Sigourney as my badass Mother-Warrior role model, I can't go too wrong.