Today I’m excited to welcome Peg Conway back to Mothering Spirit! Peg is the author of Embodying the Sacred: A Spiritual Preparation for Birth, a thoughtful guide for women who want to explore the spiritual journey of pregnancy.
Drawing from her wisdom as a mother, doula and childbirth educator, Peg’s book is full of prayers, reflections and creative activities for each trimester. She walks with mothers-to-be through pregnancy’s spiritual questions and concerns: Am I strong enough to handle labor? How will my life change once my baby is born? Who is God to me through this experience of becoming a mother?
Pregnancy is a heightened time of waiting, full of impatient expectation. But parents are always waiting for something. Waiting for babies to start sleeping in the night. Waiting for kids to start school. Waiting for teenagers to come home at curfew. Waiting for grown children to return for a visit.
Peg embraces the waiting of pregnancy as a spiritual practice. In a spring season bursting with new babies and pregnancy announcements, I’m reminded of how many people around me are preparing for parenthood through the practice of waiting. I hope you’ll enjoy Peg’s wisdom on how we spend our time as parents as much as I’ve enjoyed her writing on waiting and growing through life’s transitions.
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1) What is one truth about time you have learned since becoming a parent?
As a mother of nearly grown children (two in college and one in high school), I’m especially aware that time is a gift. I’m thankful that I was home during their growing up years, though I perceive now that the motivation was as much from my needs as theirs. My own mother had died of breast cancer when I was 7 years old, and I began motherhood with a lot of unresolved grief that said, “Better be with them today — the chance might be snatched tomorrow.” By God’s grace, mothering brought deep healing and led me to a more balanced, less compulsive attachment, coupled with a healthy awareness that life is short, so important things shouldn’t be postponed.
The letting-go transitions of my present stage of parenting are teaching me further that time is a gift to be received rather than grasped. For a long while, moms with toddlers at the grocery store or a new mom nursing a baby at church made me teary with nostalgia. A lot of prayer and journaling shifted my view, to regard those earlier days as gifts I was blessed to receive; though in the past, they are still part of me. Likewise, today I savor the gift of friendship with my young adult children.
2) What is one practice of using time well that you have developed as a mother-writer?
Quite honestly, I’m not sure I have achieved this! It took a long, long time for me to complete my book. I struggled mightily to balance priorities because I have a lot of interests and tend to underestimate how much time a particular commitment will require. My kids led busy lives too, so I was chauffeuring a lot. One practice that did help was to break down the book into smaller writing segments. This approach allowed me to be productive even during short blocks of time.
Now I really try to spend time writing at the beginning of each day, shortly after my husband and son leave for school and before checking email or Facebook or starting other tasks. My mind is most clear then, and no matter what happens the rest of the day, at least I’ve given priority to my writing. I focus on spending the time – the process – not a set number of words or pages.
3) What new insight about faith did you gain from writing this book?
Embodying the Sacred originated with a question about faith prompted by visiting a hospice for the first time: Why is there so much theological reflection on death and dying but not normal childbirth? The desire to articulate the holiness of birth’s physicality just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. All I really wanted to do was write a magazine article and be done, but over time it became clear that a book was called for and that I would just have to keep at it. Reflecting now on the whole meandering process, from first wondering to finished book, I see how the faith journey is really for the long haul.
4) What is your favorite way to spend time with your family?
The five of us have varied personalities and interests, so even when our kids were young, some of our best times all together were simply around the dinner table. I think this evolved from very early days, when our older two were in high chairs and we began requiring that they remain at the table at least a little while past when they finished, while my husband and I continued to eat. Over the years, talking around the table became enjoyable for all. Now that we are all together much less often, dinner at home or a favorite restaurant becomes a ritual of reconnection.
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Your chance to read! Peg has generously offered to give a copy of Embodying the Sacred to one lucky reader of Mothering Spirit!
Leave a comment below before midnight CST on Saturday, May 25th, to be eligible to win.
Be sure to visit Peg’s website for more of her writing or to pick up your own copy of her book – a perfect gift for any expectant mama in your life.