Each pregnancy has left an imprint in my body. I am not just referring to the outer signs, or the transformation that took part as I grew and expanded alongside my belly; I’ve recently learned that my children’s cells actually influence my own DNA. This makes complete sense to me on a psychological level. Each time I allowed new life to grow inside me, I opened myself for a new experience and each time I held my babies in my arms for the very first time, I became a mother. And I never reverted to the person I was before once that profound experience had taken place. My feelings changed, my world outlook changed, my entire being changed.
Physically, I’ve changed too. A few nights ago, I looked into the mirror and studied my body, remembering my apprehension pre-motherhood to expose my body to pregnancy and all that comes with. Sagging breasts, wrinkled belly skin and hollow-eyed stressed mothers with too many tasks for one day played as a deterring movie trailer on my younger self’s mind. As the mirror handed back my physical image, it confirmed that my belly is now a little rounder, bearing remembrance of the two children that used to reside in there. My slightly larger nipples reveal that they have been put to practical use, filling those infant girls with nourishment at all hours. My marginally broader hips show that they’ve groaned and creaked to let new life could through. Here I was, ten years older, watching the self mirrored back to me and I found myself wondering why my younger self had ever resisted the thought of this transformation. I couldn’t possibly have know what it would do to my core self, my essence.
Growing older is inevitable, but growing larger as we do that takes real work, true experiences and an open mind. It’s certainly not limited to mothers; it was just the experience that kick started the journey for me as it possessed many of the necessary ingredients. By leaving the larger part of my ego behind, I became less judgemental which in turn opened my mind for new and deeper relationships. By shedding prejudice and asking questions instead, I learned that there is no world but in my mind and how I slowly shape that mind influences everything. By dropping the ‘better than thou’ attitude, I became one in a crowd, one average human being among millions and millions, and suddenly felt surrounded by warmth instead of loneliness and isolation.
What better way to test this opened mind, this way of being, than alongside my naturally curious children who enjoy nothing more than an afternoon of exploring the natural world around them. Seeing their fascination and true interest in ants and flies around us, watching them marvel at how a spider spins her net, experiencing their boundless joy over falling snowflakes educated me anew. They left more than a little DNA in me; they awoke me and bettered me altogether. If there is no world but in our heads, then the next best thing to experiencing it as a child is to experience it as a mother to my children.