When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was obsessed with the story of Persephone and Demeter. Although I wasn’t a mother yet, she wasn’t born yet, I identified with Demeter, a mother who would destroy the world to get her daughter back.
It actually took years before I saw the story in another way, Persephone didn’t get kidnapped. She wasn’t violated by the big bad god of the underworld.
If you’ve ever seen Like Water for Chocolate, you must remember the scene in which the sister runs away, jumping onto a soldier’s horse and making out with him as they rode away. Persephone, like that sister, heard the horses coming, she recognized the potential danger, she knew that her mama was gonna be fucking pissed, but still she grabbed hold of the great hand of Hades and jumped on.
She began her descent into what? Into the underworld? Into her sexuality? Into her future? Into what was to come.
She descended into her future, not as the daughter of Demeter, not as a delicate princess, not as a victim, not as a breakable doll…she descended into her role as Queen. Once she had abandoned everything that she had been taught, everything she’d believed in, everything that her mother had warned her about, she became the queen of her own world, of her own life, her own future.
Persephone loved her mother, so much. But she knew that if she remained, her mother would never let her go, never let her grow up, never let her experience her own power, not out of cruelty, not out of hatred, but because her mother could not bear to give her up.
When we abandon our childhood, when we find that the teachings of our childhood, don’t fit for us, there will be those who say that we are descending into Hell, that we are choosing to “go bad” but in reality, most of the time, that’s not true. Most of the time, what our parents say is us going bad, is really just us living differently than they want us to.
I get it, I am the daughter of conservative parents. But I am also the mother of a beautiful daughter, that I almost named Persephone, because I knew that she would be my greatest love. She would be my person. So I also see the side of the parents. But then, in order to see what we all need to see, I look at her, her life now, so different than I ever would have chosen for her, and it is absolutely beautiful. She fits into her life like Cinderella fit her glass slipper.
Like Persephone, my daughter chose her future with no consideration of what I would think, what I might want, and I bless her every day for that. She is happy, and she truly is the queen of her world.
As parents, we need to be able to tell the difference between the descents that our children make, the ones into Hell and the ones into their own worlds. In any other role that we play, we need to be able to tell the difference for ourselves. What descent are we making? Is it one that we choose or one that was chosen for us?