Maternity: Coming Face to Face with Your Own Shadow

This book was written for women. It is not a guide for desperate mothers, but a resting place on the road where we can think about ourselves as mothers raising children with our sunny side and our shadow side, emerging and expanding from our internal volcanoes.

Many hidden aspects of our feminine psyche are exposed and activated with the arrival of our children. These are revealing moments of mystical experience, if we are able to experience them as such, and if we find the support to confront them. It is an opportunity to look at the pre-conceived ideas, the prejudices, and authoritarian attitudes imbedded in our opinions about maternity, child-rearing, education, family relationships, and communication between children and adults.

In these pages we will find words to name the indefinable: the altered states of consciousness after birth, the emotional fields we enter with our babies, the unavoidable insanity, and that feeling of not recognizing ourselves any longer. I invite you to step with me on this road, with the freedom to take only what is helpful or supportive. I hope this book will contribute to generate more questions, create more spaces for the sincere exchange among women, and facilitate encounters, communication, and solidarity.


Chapter 1

A single emotion in two bodies.
Emotional fusion. Children are fusional beings. How emotional separation begins. Why is it important to understand what emotional fusion involves? What is the shadow? Why is it so hard to raise a child? Postpartum depression: fact or fiction? Romina’s story. Loss of identity during the postpartum period. Between the external and the internal.

Chapter 2

Childbirth as spiritual de-structuring. Institutionalization of childbirth. Subjugation in Western childbirth: protocols. Reflections on mistreatment. Giving birth in a caring, loving atmosphere. Support at the time of delivery. Where is an ideal place to give birth? Childbirth and sexuality. Recalling the birth of my second and third child.

Chapter 3

Breastfeeding: a way of showing love. A woman’s encounter with herself. How a woman can begin to breastfeed her child. Routines that make breastfeeding difficult. Babies who do not gain weight. Stella’s story. Are there women who don’t have milk? Babies who sleep a lot. Sophia’s story. Reflections on weaning our child. Valerie wants to wean her daughter.

Chapter 4

Becoming a Postpartum Mom.
Preparing for motherhood: toward the encounter with our own shadow. Loving encounters during postpartum. A doula: support and companionship. Feminizing sexuality during postpartum.

Chapter 5

Baby, child, and mother in fusion.
A baby’s basic needs from birth to nine months. With our eyes solely on them. Children’s capacity for understanding (we must talk to them). Practical tips when talking to children. Emotional structure and how thought processes are constructed. Emotional separation and communication. Caring for “problem” children. Norma’s story. Carla’s story. A unique situation.

Chapter 6

Supporting and separating: two tasks for the father.
The role of the father as provider of emotional support. Role confusion in modern times. Who provides support for the father? The role of the father in emotional separation. Other people involved in emotional separation. Paul’s story. Sustaining a father’s role in his absence. Raising children without a father. Children who wake at night: importance of the father figure. Male and female functions within the family.

Chapter 7

Children’s illnesses as a manifestation of their mother’s emotional reality.
The shadow materializes. A different perspective on the most frequent children’s illnesses. Colds and runny noses. Asthma. Eloise’s story. Allergies. Infections. Roderick and his mom. Digestive disorders. Upsetting behaviors: Fiona’s story. Mark’s story: emotional fusion, music and language.

Chapter 8

Children and their right to the truth.
Outer truth. Inner truth. Searching for our own truth. Truth during difficult times. Truth in adoption cases. Barbara’s story (new meaning: the death of a loved one). Sandra’s story.

Chapter 9

Limits and communication.
More limits or more communication? Listening to the original request—agreements and disagreements. Tyrant children. No and don’t: an ineffectual strategy. Time devoted exclusively to our children. Tantrums on the birth of a sibling. How children adapt to the world of adults. The insanity of year-end parties in preschool and kindergarten. Stress in children. Roy’s story.

Chapter 10

Pleasure for children; censure from adults.
Natural sphincter control and authoritarianism. Controlling bedwetting at night. Bridget’s story. The sucking instinct: pleasure and survival. Water: such a sweet feeling. To the corner candy shop with love. Food, children, and nature. Expectations and possibilities at meal times.

Chapter 11

How the family functions at bedtime.
Sleeping disorders or ignorance about a baby’s behavior. Night and infants. To the tune of other people’s opinions. Children over two who wake at night. Urgently required: Someone in the role of separator (to be read with the child’s father). Children also want to sleep.

Chapter 12

Violent or abused children
Reflections on violence: know yourself. Active and passive violence: a guide for professionals. Roseanne’s story. Aggressive children: recognizing our own truth. Children of violence. Emotionally or sexually abused children; Abuse among children. Denial as escape: Roland and Lillian. From the professional viewpoint.

Chapter 13

Women, motherhood, and work.
Motherhood, money, and sexuality. Role confusion. Educational establishments. In search of a woman’s essential inner being. The female way of thinking.