I am nearly 35 and just last week had to count on my fingers, from my date of birth, to figure that one out. I could have sworn I was going to be 34.
This lapse in age memory is but one of the things visited upon me since birthing my daughter, losing a year and completely redefining myself as a female. As a soon-to-be 35 year old I feel utterly transformed. Some of this is age and wisdom and all that’ll la la la. Though most of this comes with embracing my biological destiny, and becoming a mother.
I am two steps into the trinity that is maiden, mother and crone. The journey I have taken to get here and the things that do and did make sense are changing. Here is my femininity, here is my feminism, here is my womanhood… thus far. For your delectation.
I was a sweet girl and then an angsty teen. Divorce in my very early years saw me changed from outgoing playground brat, to new girl in school. I was scared to speak, unsure of myself and well and truly ousted from her pedestal of “vicars daughter”. My life is, as so many childrens, coloured by that marital before and after. Yet I can’t ever regret the challenges the divorce brought to me as without that split I wouldn’t have rubbed up against the crazier aspects if my life.
Crazy was rained down on me in the following ways. Mum became a lesbian, her partner was radical feminist… When it suited her. But her face full of lipstick and stance on not shaving my legs was confusing. So I rebelled. I shaved everything bar my head. I fell head over heels in love with boy after boy, by the week, the day, the hour. Meanwhile dad became a pagan high priest and a bit of an uber feminist in his own right, but also only in the way a man can… His walls were adorned with lady bits and he worshipped females, I’m sure for their inner magic, though he was fond of the outer magic, too.
My youth was therefore immersed intensely in femininity. Most gals have their girls and sisters to contend with. I had two mums, a step mum, on and off step sisters and about twenty goddesses to deal with. I think I had it bad… Lord knows how my brothers came out of it to be such masculine specimens! I’m not complaining. This formative education in all things womanly was fascinating. Though from it I was left picking at the bones, trying to figure out how this case of mega information over load applied to me, Alice.
At university I went on to major in Women’s Studies, me being the expert and all! This added a depressing new array of information to soak my already sodden mind. I was already well aware of the inequalities women faced in the world, but my degree often left me sobbing into my text books as I was doused with information on rape, slavery, abuse, domestic violence and just down right unfairness.
So I took all this information and did something entirely wacky with it. I disregarded it and attempted to become a glamour model. I’m sure a psychologist would suggest I was rebelling, and in rebelling against the misery of being female, I tried to embody the societal and fairly misogynistic view of the woman as naked, boobied, sexy and accessible. This didn’t work for me. Try as I might I just couldn’t commit myself to it. I hated the idea of dieting. I hated the idea of being objectified by a bloke with a camera. I hated the idea of selling myself, and my heart, and my brains short by just being some naked chick. So I pretty much failed at the whole modelling debacle.
It was round about then that I really began to move away from any feminine stereotype and instead explore my inner self. In my late twenties I picked up some spiritual books and never looked back. I realised, remembered perhaps, that the version of me that was truest was not the fleshy version, or even the intellectual version, but the loving, kind, innocent version. The one who loved animals, enjoyed reading, adored to write, could read tarot, experienced meditation and healing as a child and who was excited by the world, and the possibility of life going on beyond the world, beyond our limited knowledge of our being.
So my two books, The High Heeled Guide to Enlightenment and The High Heeled Guide to Spiritual Living were born. Yet even then I was still a maiden. Even with all my spiritual know how, awards and regular writing posts, my success, I was still just a kid. But I was ready. Easy for the next phase of womanhood. I’d followed the path to everywhere it took me. I’d sung mantras in sweat lodges and experienced all manner of soulful, spiritual wondrousness. My heart had sung with the power of it all. Yet I was ready for something else.
So this is where I am. I am transformed by motherhood into a whole new version of the feminine. When I was a maiden- approximately 15 months ago- I was seeking, searching, taking on a man’s world, trying to find a place in it. I did that well, I published and spoke and I carved myself a little nook that was all mine. But in becoming a mother, in accessing that part of my femininity, I am all changed all over again.
In the past I believed motherhood was boring, biological humdrum destiny. I bought into the idea that to achieve something in life one must manifest something solid, something public, something that could be scrutinised and reviewed and approved. For a girl brought up soaked in femininity, this was a very masculine way of thinking. But this is truly, unavoidably a man’s world. The tenets of femininity have been lost as women attempt to prove their equality to men, but in doing so we have disregarded our own natural abilities and skills as unimportant. We have rubbished our own nature in favour of how the guys do things. Motherhood has lost its reverence. It is viewed by some as a cop out, nothing special, boring, servitude, unskilled…
Yet becoming a mother, to me, has been the most liberating, empowering, beautiful thing I have ever done. It is also something to which I am deeply reverent. I thank the universe every day for this experience, because it is to me, the essence of womanhood. When I was being brought up by all those women, and women lovers, with all their knowledge and goddess-y thinkings, no one suggested to me that motherhood was the way to go. I guess it was the ’80S and feminism was at a weird, power-suited kinda place. Motherhood was seen as some kind of slavery of women. And so I was never once informed by anyone how incredible it was. I guess, maybe for the people around me, motherhood had not been a wholly happy experience. But that is their story.
Being a mother, is me being a woman. It’s not just about having a child either. Being a woman has become this amazing powerful place of nurture and care, listening and soft whisperings. Being a woman is treading lightly, connecting, sharing, touching, gentleness, love, soothing, calming, strength, perseverance, tolerance, diplomacy, creativity. It is everything that this “man’s world” is missing. It is everything that has been written off in favour of capitalism, consumerism, big business, brute strength, war, money and power. Being a woman feels like I’m tapping into something ancient and beautiful, something that has gentle, raw, honest power that could help transform this ailing planet back into something a little less stark. We all need a woman’s touch right now. And so it is with this in my heart that I now approach my life.
I am a woman now. A mother woman. And I love it. My journey has seen me spin through a dozen representations of all that is perceived to be feminine, but in my “biological destiny” I feel I found my greatest power, my greatest love and my greatest happiness. So that is the story of my womanhood thus far. The progression has been exciting to review and as a new mother I cannot wait to see how it will ripen and blossom. And as the mother of a girl, I am beyond honoured to share this path, this maiden, mother, crone voyage with her. My little maiden has made me whole and so, together, mom and daughter, maiden and mother, girl and woman we set sail…
Alice Grist is author of The High Heeled Guide to Enlightenment and award winning The High Heeled Guide to Spiritual Living. Alice’s third book Dear Poppyseed, A Soulful Momma’s Journal was published in July 2013. Alice is imprint publisher of Soul Rocks Books that publishes soulful and spiritual books for a new modern generation. Alice contributes her soulful writings to a number of publications and online sites including HelloGiggles, The Conversation and Huffington Post. Alice is also a soulful tarot reader and spiritual therapist extraordinaire. For more info go to www.alicegrist.co.uk.