Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Women's Studies

Major Professor

Marilyn Myerson, Ph.D.

Keywords

Motherhood, Spirituality, Women, Feminism, Transformation

Abstract

My experiences as a mother have been enhanced by spirituality and my spirituality has been transformed through the practice of mothering. I will argue that part of the transformation available in mothering is that one can go from thinking of oneself as an individual with free will, self autonomy, and independence to believing maybe we are all more connected and dependent upon each other than we thought. I intend to explore my personal spiritual journey from an academic perspective in order to gain and share knowledge. Intense emotional experiences such as childbirth, learning how to take care of a person who can not clearly communicate her or his desires, and learning to put the needs of someone else before your own, have the potential for both extreme pain and joy and the mother is forced to decide how to move forward. If mothers start to feel connected to their children, it can become easier to feel connected to other mothers, children, and humanity in general.

This change which can occur within a mother can be a part of the spiritual awakening. American society, in general, would benefit from the recognition of the spiritual side of mothering and the awareness of the potential for a transformation in consciousness. My thesis topic is the spirituality of motherhood. More specifically, I explore how the practice of caring for children can transform the caregiver's sense of spirituality which is the relationship between your self and the world. This thesis is based on a feminist literary review of texts about spirituality and motherhood and also uses my personal experiences as a mother to illustrate how mothering can be a spiritual awakening and opportunity for spiritual growth. It is feminist in nature because I am attempting to illuminate and privilege the knowledges and experiences of mothers. I want to celebrate female parenting and also recognize the difficulties imposed by our sexist society.

Motherhood does not always have to be exploitive or repressive and spirituality is one way to transcend these challenges.

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