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The Inner Journey of Motherhood

Stephanie Mattei
Capron, IL USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 4 July-August 2000, p. 122

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time

Recently, a friend encouraged me to undergo the Keirsey Temperament Sorter Tests as a helpful tool for my journey of self-discovery. And what a discovery did I make this morning! While reading and answering questions, I became aware of the transformation that is taking place within my being. Taking the test made several changes clear to me. The test included questions such as:

  • Which rules you more: your head or your heart?
  • Are you more inclined to be fair-minded or sympathetic?
  • Which do you wish more for yourself: clarity of reason or strength of compassion?
  • Are you more drawn toward convincing or touching?
  • Are you more interested in what is actual or what is possible?
  • Are you more: firm than gentle or gentle than firm?
  • Is it worse to be unjust or merciless?

While answering, I came to realize how much my outlook has changed. In the past, I feel I valued the first choices more, (i.e., the head more than the heart, fair-mindedness more than sympathy). But in the last few years, my outlook has changed. I have developed the other characteristics more. Much to my surprise, I found myself answering that I now value the heart more than the head and mercy more than fairness. Had I not taken the test, I would not have recognized this subtle shift in my value system. I asked myself what actually triggered my inner transformation. The image of drops of water came to mind. An imperceptible trickle of water dropping on a stone will eventually create a hole in the stone. Consistency and the passage of time create the change. So, what has been the trickle of water in my life?

I feel that LLL has been the consistent influence that transformed my life. I developed the courage to follow my heart in mothering my son from ideas I heard at LLL meetings and read about in books from the Group Library. This led my husband and I to choose a style of parenting that is different from the way we were parented.

LLL taught me that discipline can be intertwined with respect for the child's personality, consideration of the age and stage of the child, and acceptance of the child's capabilities.

Through the example of my co-Leaders, Amber and Sue, and the readings they recommended, I learned to value firm, consistent parenting that included gentleness and sensitivity to my son's feelings. Children see the world differently than adults. What seems logical to parents may seem unfair to them. And what appears reasonable to them may appear nonsensical to us! When conflicts arise, empathy and compassion can bridge the gap between parents and children. Lovingly guiding our children becomes easier when our way of relating to them is firmly rooted in the security of compassion and an appreciative, caring, and reassuring heart.

The job of parenting actually lies in our capacity to see beyond actual facts and behold the potentials. It is a balance of encouraging our children without pushing them, respecting their limits without limiting them, and drawing the best out of them without putting conditions on our love.

The experience of holding my totally dependent and needy baby at my breast enabled me to really taste the flavor of a sympathetic and compassionate heart. My breastfeeding experience with my son Giacomo helped me realize how important touch is and how much may be communicated through it. My son is now almost three years old, and is very articulate. But we still cherish the silent language of love through breastfeeding.

My daily endeavors in the job of parenting are teaching me that we all are unjust at times. This realization humbles me. Giacomo's readiness to forgive my mistakes time and again enlightens me on how powerful forgiveness is in our fragile relationships.

Well, thank you my friend, for proposing the Keirsey exercise to me! And thank you LLL for transforming my soul!

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