We are living in a beautiful world, at a time when 54% of children in America suffer from chronic illness.
Holy crap, my friends. This is a staggering statistic. Digging for the roots—for the truth—seems the essential task. But it’s difficult work, in a divided world.
Do we blame Monsanto, glyphosate, and GMOS? Do we blame early and frequent exposure to electronic devices emitting harmful radiation? Do we blame ill-fitting genes? All of these? None of them?
For almost half a century, Dr. Gabor Maté has studied and observed the correlation between maternal stress and chronic illness. Simply put: the offspring of mothers with high levels of stress are exponentially more likely to develop chronic illness over the course of their lifetime. Chronic illness, by the way, includes addiction and substance abuse.
If we want to understand chronic illness in children, we must start with the mothers.
Pregnant women are always told to take good care of themselves. Eat perfectly, exercise regularly. See the best doctor. Strive to embody the Divine Goddess, calm and serene, no matter what. Do everything right. Simultaneously, pregnant women are bombarded with scary information. Monsanto, glyphosate, and GMOs. Vaccines. The ill-fitting genes.
And a mother’s journey doesn’t just begin with pregnancy, or even conception. It begins with the biological environment of her grandmother, because that’s the uterus that held the fetus that developed the ovaries containing the egg from which she became. Grandma is the direct origin of a mother’s DNA. So, let’s look two generations back:
The classic, “successful” single family American household consists of one working, hat-wearing father and one home-ridden, apron-clad mother. Mother cooks, cleans, and cares for the children while Father goes out to win the bread and butter. He comes home from work, exhausted. Ready for dinner, a smoke, the newspaper. Pats his children on the head, yawns, goes to bed.
All the while Mother smiles prettily, keeps herself neat, calls him dear. Does all the cooking and cleaning. Father sees nothing but Kitchen-Aid appliances gleaming and quiet, well-mannered children. Any outbursts or other inconvenient feelings are quickly managed with gin, or electric shock therapy.
Looking at this picture, do we see how Mother is isolated? Father is not allowed in the delivery room. Cigarette smoke hangs heavy in the air as he waits for word from “back there.” Baby is taken to the nursery—first at the hospital, later at home. Thus, the birth of a family is characterized by separation of its members.
This industrial trend is a sharp turn from traditional family structures, in which babies remain tethered to their mothers from the moment they are born, and mothers remain tethered to a tribe of trusted relatives.
Incidentally, Dr. Maté reveals that the greatest threat to a mother’s health, by far, occurs when emotional stress is coupled with isolation.
As social organisms, our biology functions best when we’re connected to others. Perceived isolation triggers changes in brain chemistry that promote anxiety, depression, paranoia, and other symptoms of prolonged exhaustion in the nervous system.
Connection occurs through resonance, and a felt-sense of being seen and heard. Only a mother truly understands what it means to be a mother. Therefore, a mother needs the witnessing presence of other mothers, if she is to be fully seen. No father, and certainly no child, is equipped to meet a mother’s deepest need for connection.
Furthermore, no true connection is possible when we are closed off from the people around us. Closure includes censure, or inability to be one’s authentic self.
This is how a culture devoted to “independence” has eroded our basic health. We’ve stomped arrogantly away from our true sources of sustenance. We’ve suppressed our senses for what is real, to grasp for what feels gratifying. The programs installed in our collective consciousness, ages ago, are no longer relevant. We need to stay connected—to plug in—long enough to download the critical updates.
It’s time for every person with the capacity for action (this means you) to make a choice:
Will you live a copied and pasted life? Or will you strive, one day, one breath, one move at a time, to grow from your own unique roots, and reach for your own unique vision? Will you connect to the world around you, because you believe in the world within?
Although it has been three weeks since we received the keys, given holidays and various other factors, I am just now settling. Like my nervous system has adjusted from “flight” mode to “homing.” I’ve made my 20/20 Vision-Board and identified this month’s goals. I joined the YMCA (two hours of free childcare!). Bags of things left unpacked fill my closet and spill out into my room, but I’ve grown accustomed to them for the time being.
Today was our first normal Sunday. No visitors in town. We woke up and got ready, using our nifty new check-list method with reasonable success. Lily checked the boxes herself: Go potty! Drink water! Eat breakfast! Get dressed! Brush teeth and hair!
Then we scurried off to a four-year-old’s birthday party at the park, themed around somatic movement, musical instruments, and animal costumes. We returned to a quiet house--Dina and her kids were out-- and enjoyed indoor activities until it was time for dinner. I reheated leftovers, and we ate in a civilized manner. (It’s worth noting, for context, that my previous living situation didn’t include a dining table.)
I fell asleep feeling satisfied with myself as a mother, but disconnected from my other aspects.
The morning routine works fine for the kids; what’s missing is Me.
Dina mentioned the same thing. We’ve got kids fed and dressed and clean and playing outside, but we’re starving and haggard and constipated.
I’ve heard other moms claim that waking up at least one hour before their children lets them start the day on their own terms. This is a real game-changer when the alternative is being woken up by flailing elbows and inexplicable chatter.
My finest hours seem to arrive when the kids go to sleep. But then I’m sometimes awake until past midnight, like right now. Waking up to an alarm (the sonic equivalent of a flying arm) early in the morning seems counter-intuitive, if I can stay in bed until the last possible second, and then bargain unsuccessfully with the kids for five more minutes. Right? But then the vicious cycle in which the morning routine squeezes me out continues.
Dina and I, being in the same boat, have determined to begin a new practice of waking up at 6:00 am, meeting in the kitchen for a morning hug, then going our separate ways to perform whatever morning rituals we deem necessary so that when the kids wake up, we’ve donned our own oxygen masks.
Let it be known that we delayed the deployment of our early morning routine in favor of sleeping in, again. But I have faith.