• Erin DiMaggio

Forgiveness is the key to being the mother you want to be. The First thing they should teach in ever

Before I was even pregnant, I was on a mission to be the perfect mom. I wanted to be the mom, I never had. I wanted to do a better job than my mom had done. Before I became a mother, I knew one truth about my mom; she had failed me. Even though she cared for me and I knew she loved me; she had emotionally abandoned me. It is verifiably true, for a considerable amount of time; she was not all there. She was locked in her own despair, depression and physical pain; she could not see me.

When my husband and I decided to become parents, we did everything right according to the books and all of the experts out there! I prepared my body in advance for the conception of our future baby by taking pre-natal supplements and eating leafy green vegetables. I abstained from caffeine and alcohol. I meditated, prayed and did yoga. I read all of the pregnancy books and parenting books I could find. I researched the best methods for labor and delivery. I learned about the history of childbirth from the beginning of time to the present day. I considered all of the risk factors for various methods of birthing. I decided on a Natural Hospital Birth with the UCLA Midwives. I figured it was the best of all worlds and the safest place to bring my baby into the world.

When I did get pregnant, my husband and I took classes together. We talked about our vision for the birth and all that comes with having a child. We were a happy couple and proud parents to be. We were filled with our own ideas and perceptions about our future family and what amazing parents we would be.

When my baby boy was in my womb I chanted to him. I sang to him. I read to him. I envisioned a blissful, orgasmic birth; like the one I saw in our pregnancy class video.

All was well in our world. And then, labor began. LABOR BEGAN!!!


Noun: Work; especially hard physical work.

Synonyms: toil, exertion, industry, drudgery, effort; the process of childbirth, especially the period from the start of uterine contractions to delivery.

Verb: work, work hard, toil, slave (away), grind away, struggle; work like a Trojan, slog away, plug away, travail, moil, strive, struggle, endeavor, work, fight, put oneself out, apply oneself, exert oneself, bend/lean/fall over backwards, pull out all the stops, bust a gut, bust one's chops (AOL keyword search for Labor, 5/15/15)

I spent the next 33 hours vomiting, screaming and ripping open. I pushed my precious baby boy out in front of the whole labor and delivery team. They were preparing for a C-Section while I was screaming, “You can’t touch my baby!” Yes, I got him out without drugs. I remember thinking; “This is nothing like that orgasmic labor I saw on the video in the childbirth class. Where is my orgasmic birth?”

After the initial shock of labor and then the physical recovery of childbirth, my husband and I were doing a pretty good job at being the parents we planned on being. We were infatuated with this little being of soft, tender love.

All was well in our world, again. Then, we experienced a series of events: the death of my father, a bad real-estate agreement, and impending bankruptcy. I retired from my personal training and yoga business, which I loved, to be a full-time stay-at-home-mom. And then, I got pregnant with baby number two. While my first pregnancy empowered me and helped me to celebrate my strength as a woman and a mother, my second pregnancy with my baby girl, taught me to surrender, let go and to rest.

After I brought my daughter home from the hospital, I felt blessed beyond measure and proud that I was giving my children a better life than I had. But then slowly, debris from my past crept into my present moment. My past was slowly stealing my joy and gratitude. I tried to ignore it but like boiling water, my childhood memories continued to bubble to the surface. I knew I had to do something to be the mother to my children I promised myself I would be and do it quickly, before I lost who I was.

Sleep deprived from nursing and exhausted from being with two sweet toddlers all day, I came up with the bright idea of going to graduate school. Luckily, my husband was used to my craziness and unconventional ways; he supported my heartfelt dream to get a Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology. I couldn’t explain to him at the time why I had to do it; all I knew was something in me, had to shift.

I enrolled at The University of Santa Monica (USM). The program is a highly empowering curriculum in Spiritual Psychology designed to provide students with information and tools for transforming their consciousness and transforming their lives.

For one weekend a month, I went to the University to learn from two amazing spiritual teachers and licensed clinical psychologists, Ron and Mary Hulnick. During my weekends at the University, I participated in group therapy and one-on-one therapy sessions working as a client, facilitator and neutral observer. During the first year, I learned valuable skills that assisted me in unpeeling the metaphorical onion of my psyche to get to the heart of the matter. After eight months of integrating the skills, doing home-assignments and working my process, I began to experience a deep internal shift in the way I was thinking about and seeing my world.

I was in class on one Mother’s Day, and on that day, I noticed another mother and her daughter. They were arm in arm, laughing hysterically about something. The mother was looking directly into her daughter’s eyes and as she spoke to her daughter, I could feel love pouring out of them. I thought about my young daughter and our life together. I thought, “I hope she feels that way about me when she is grown.” And then I heard a voice say, “Your Mom’s not dead yet!” It was a wake up call for me.

Like a wave, memories flooded my mind. I saw myself as a young girl being rocked by my mom. I remembered her staying up late at night with me when I was sick. I remembered how she French-braided my long, thick hair and how she sat silently as I complained that she was hurting my head. I remembered how she clipped coupons from the Sunday newspaper to help pay for our food. I remembered all of the dresses she sewed for my First Communion, Eighth Grade Graduation and Prom. I remembered her waking up before the sun to put food in the crock-pot so we could have home cooked meals at the end of her workday at Catholic Social Services. A thousand memories poured into my cells and suddenly, my reality shifted. I remembered how much she loved me. I knew what I had to do. I could no longer hold onto my old story. My past was no longer serving my present. I felt an urgency to get to know this woman who raised me. I wanted my Mommy!

I made a decision right then and there, “I could have the Mom I wanted if I was willing to love her as she is and forgive her and myself for all of the judgments I made.” To do that, I would need to get to know her in a new way. That Mother’s Day, I set off on new course curriculum. I made a plan to call her and ask her all of the hard questions so I could understand why things were the way they were. You can’t really know someone until you are able to hear all of his or her story. As I began to hear her own personal narrative with an open heart and new ears, I began to understand her struggles and her pain. She experienced a horrendous childhood in many ways. And yet, she didn’t hold any resentment towards her own mother. She seemed to have nothing but love for her. I was amazed at her level of empathy and compassion for her parents and her willingness to bring loving to the shattered pieces of her life. I felt inspired to try to be a little more like her.

People often repeat their past over and over again. Family patterns of behavior are carried in the fabric of our being and cycles of violence are often passed down from one generation to the next. In comparison to me, my Mother had experienced horrendous emotional abuse and physical neglect. I began to understand that my mom had stopped the cycle of violence from her past. She gave her whole heart and soul to giving her three kids something she had never received in her life: Love and Understanding.

The sooner you forgive yourself and let go of the attachments to your past, the more likely you will be able to live more fully in the present and be the Mom you promised yourself to be. Forgiving my mother and telling the untold secrets of my soul allowed me to be the mother I wanted to be. Mothering consciously is a practice of seeing ourselves clearly and forgiving ourselves when we feel like we are not living up to our own expectations. We are all simply doing the best we can with the resources we have available to us at the time. I realized that my quest to be the perfect mom was no longer necessary and it was keeping me from celebrating the life I had. We are all given exactly what we need to learn the lessons we were sent here to learn. The perfect Mom is the Mom that you had and the Mom that you already are.

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