My Greatest Joy: A Reflection on Motherhood / A picture of a little girl kissing her mother's pregnant belly

My Greatest Joy

Melissa Gosselin

I’ve encountered various symbols of motherhood over time, of what it means to bring life into the world. Some depict women as portals to another side, between the thin veil that separates the physical and the Divine. Or motherhood as the ultimate form of creativity — life growing inside a woman’s body, formed by pieces of each parent. Or the depiction of raising a child . . . as the feeding of a spark that becomes the flame of consciousness. Motherhood as a symbol has always resonated with me. So today, I want to explore the transformational effect of motherhood, the shift in perspective, how it connects us to Life and to ourselves. 

This is Emilie’s story. 

She has two daughters, a three year old and a newborn. In terms of how motherhood has transformed her, she reveals a few different things . . . that it’s made her more decisive, more rooted in her values, more grateful. “In becoming a mother,” she says, “I would say that I settled into a more authentic version of myself that I had never met before. It started in the first months of my first pregnancy, as big decisions became easier to make with this little force of nature growing inside my belly.” Emilie says she quit her job to freelance so she could work from home, and that she and her husband moved into a place more suitable for their growing family. “I just felt I knew what was right and what needed to be done,” she says, “as opposed to sort of floating and waiting for opportunities to come my way.” And by the time her first daughter was born, Emilie felt ready and deeply committed to the new role she was about to take on. 

Some of the changes that took place in her were also consciously made, born of a desire to lead her daughters by example. “I’ve been ditching processed foods and packaging by cooking almost everything aside from dairy products from scratch,” she says. “But this past year, I’ve also started practicing self-healing exercises to identify and break free from unhealthy behavioural patterns.” Emilie goes on to say that it was those toddler years that introduced her to versions of herself she didn’t like, that it was then she committed herself to healing.

“I’ve also grown an immense appreciation for my own parents,” Emilie says, “whose love and involvement throughout my childhood are what made me feel so ready to take on this role in the first place.” She says she channels her parents daily.

When asked what kinds of women she wanted to raise, she had this to say: “I simply hope my daughters will be positive forces throughout their lives. And I wish them happiness and meaningful experiences over money and material things. No matter what is happening in the world, we're here for a short time, so I want them to feel alive and purposeful in whatever they choose to do! (And I think consumerism can distance you from that.) Finally, I hope they can continue to experience life through a lens of curiosity, fascination and gratitude because we truly live on an incredible planet.”

And after all this personal development and reflection, what is Emilie’s greatest joy? She says it’s watching her daughters sleep: “They look so peaceful, so serene . . . and in that moment I know that everything is OK. They are OK. We're OK. And their beautiful sleeping faces just fill up my whole heart. Also, sleep is not a given when you're a parent! So even if I am not getting tons of sleep, at least they are, thanks to me! And I feel so incredibly grateful and privileged to be the person that can bring them this ultimate comfort.”

So it seems that motherhood is a process filled with growth, with hope for what the future could bring. It’s a process of reflection, of gratitude . . . of sacrifice and surrender. A process that allows us to find and then give the best versions of ourselves. It's where joy is a moment of presence — a moment of arrival — a confirmation that everything you are has culminated from years of continuous evolution, allowing you to nurture, to love, to give more than you ever thought you could.

Want to read more about motherhood? Check out Always with Me for a reflection on mothers and loss. 

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