When so many of us are feeling like we’re only just surviving, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about mothering the mother.
It’s easy to pamper a pregnant woman.
Her belly is a daily reminder of how much she is giving herself to the needs of her child – her body, mind and spirit are focused on the nourishment of another. And so we give to her easily.
But once the baby is born and the child grows, the physical reminder of how much that mother is giving to her child is no longer there. We don’t see how much she is still putting her child first.
Her thoughts go to what they need first.
Her actions centre around her family’s desires rather than her own.
Her body runs all day, her coffee goes cold as she prioritises others, her meal gets forgotten as she gets everything else done.
But who is mothering the mother?
For the most part, no-one.
We used to have a tribe of women around us, holding the baby, bringing the meals, doing it side-by-side. We used to have someone we could lean on when it became too tough – and we didn’t even have to ask. It was just assumed we would do it together. It was just assumed we didn’t have to get to breaking point.
As we mothered our babies, someone mothered us. And so it went. For generations.
Now, we’re all alone.
We don’t want to ask for help because somewhere along the line we’ve adopted the ridiculous notion that we have to do it all to be successful. We’ve swallowed the lie that to let others help raise our children means we’ve failed. Why? Where did this come from? Surely our children – and our partners, sisters, brothers and colleagues – need us to be healthy, balanced, happy…joyful. Why do we believe we have to soldier on through the exhaustion on our own?
It’s time to break down that lie.
You are worthy of support, love and nourishment. Dinners dropped at your door, offers to babysit, a shoulder to cry on in the park. Not because you’re sick or because some tragedy has fallen on your family, but because you are raising the next generation.
In a podcast recently, I interviewed the amazing Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying and, most recently, Bloom. Bronnie has gone through a bigger journey of learning how to surrender the armour of being a superwoman and accepting help more than most of us: debilitating rheumatoid arthritis as a single mum with a new baby will do that. When you’re faced with that reality, you don’t have much choice but to accept whatever support comes your way.
But what if we didn’t have to get to breaking point – or serious illness – before we started to feel more supported?
What if we started mothering the mother… now?
If you’re ready to start nurturing the nurturer, here’s some ideas to get you started:
- Ask for what you need. The harsh truth is everyone around you is so used to you just getting on with it, they won’t stop to think you might like some help. They think you’ve got it covered, mama – and it’s up to you to change that. Get clear on how you would like to be supported, whether it be one afternoon off a week to go to yoga or a date night once a month, and put it out there. We’re not complaining or begging – we’re just clearly stating this is what we need to be the best we can be.
- Don’t know what you really need? Yep – that’s common. When you’ve been running on adrenaline and putting everyone else first for so long, sometimes it’s hard to hear the whispers of your tired spirit telling you what you really need. Silence, and compassion, is the only way forward here, mama. Give yourself half an hour to sit down and write out how you’re really feeling, and play a little game with yourself. If I could have anything in the world right now, what would it be? And while a million dollars and a week at a silent retreat might come up, keep going. Underneath, the real gold is there.
- Notice what shows up. The answers to our prayers are usually right in front of us, but when we’re so focused on the story running in our head (“it’s all up to me”, “nothing gets done unless I do it”), we miss the blessings in front of our eyes. Every single time one of your kids picks up their own shoes, notice it. Every single time your partner makes you a cuppa, or holds your hand, or asks how you really are, notice it. Remember – what you focus on expands.
- Mother yourself. And on those tough days, try thinking of yourself as one of your children and ask what you really need. Just as when your child is tired or sick, you know exactly how to change your day to make sure they are OK: you move things around to accommodate what they need. You’re no different, mama. Change your plans, stay in your pjs, watch a movie with your little one. Or if that’s not possible, at least start with some nourishing food and a slower day.
No-one wins from this crazy pace we’re putting ourselves under. We need nourishment, support and a tribe around us. And as mamas, we must decide that this is our new normal.
We must mother the mother.
Happy Mama Media is proud to announce that, as of the Mother’s Day 2017, 5% of every membership to the New Moon Mama Circle will be donated to PANDA – to help support mamas with perinatal anxiety and depression. Perinatal extends from when pregnancy begins to the first year after the baby is born. You can read about PANDA’s amazing work here, and if you would like to be a part of our New Moon Mama Circle – and not only join other women on this journey but support PANDA and the mama’s that need our help – you can join here.