Nicola from Iris Dares Designs and I have an incredible conversation in this video about the unique challenges and joys of modern-day motherhood and womanhood. Touching on so many good subjects, and reflecting on what we can do about them, this video highlights such a great way to keep the conversation going, which helps to foster a future of awareness and change.
A girl can be strong, fight her own battles, and set her own plans. No doubt, she IS born with such power inside her, and this is a power we must attempt to protect. As she grows, this girl will put on new layers of life like wrappings around her soul. Her experiences become a layer, her relationships, her thoughts, the words spoken to her by others, all layers. These layers of life will either add to and empower that power in her soul, or, cover it up in a way that tries to disprove that power.
What layers make you, you? What wrappings do you have around your soul? For so many women and girls, the answer is not as flattering as we would like it to be. We have taken on so many layers that do not serve us well. Layers of insecurity as we compare ourselves to others, layers of doubt and guilt while we judge so harshly what we can do or what we should be doing. We take on layers from the media, and the world's expectations of who we should be, what we should be doing, what we look like. There is so much pressure to be a certain way, and on the flip side, there is so much freedom in finding ways to just be. Just do the thing! Just take the deep breath! Just be in the messy house for a moment. Just let those red sparkly shoes be worn with the pink dress because it makes her HAPPY.
We could all benefit from shedding a few layers. Shaking them off, and finding ways to connect with that space deep within us that makes us who we are, that place of power and confidence and strength. It is hard to be a woman in this age, where systems are not built to give us the space we need to thrive in our femininity. Women are often held up to a standard different than men are, from everything from surnames, to how they run their household, to how buildings and bathrooms are built- inequality is everywhere. And, as Nicola points out, feminism is not about “women being better” it's about finding space and equality for all of us to thrive, without all the pressure of having to conform to one thing or a certain vision. We may not find equality and peace in our lifetime, but we absolutely will keep reaching for it, and protecting the potential of it in our own children.
Mothers are facing so many new challenges today when it comes to raising influenceable young children up to be confident open-minded adults. There are SO many influences, all offering layers, enticing these young ones to put them on. It used to be as simple as banning certain magazines from a household, but now, the presence of the media is so much stronger than it used to be. We have so little control over which messages are spoken into our children's ears. It surrounds us, and is constantly whispering (or yelling) out the new trends, new standards, the noise of expectation. It’s in our homes, in our devices, in our schools, and among our peers. Still, mothers show up every day finding new and creative ways to empower their young daughters and sons, finding ways to help them learn to block out these voices no matter how loud they can be. Mothers help their children find ways to listen to their voice inside, the one you're born with that tells you “ YOU CAN “ and “ YES “ and radiates with confidence and limitless options. It's amazing how vital these lessons can be at a young age. The way a child is spoken to and loved is something all good mothers are extremely sensitive to, because we know it shapes who they become.
Not only are they striving with all of their soul to raise these children, but they too are suffering under the relentless pressures, standards, and guilt, the very same things they strive to protect their children from. So many mamas go into pregnancy and birth without a clue of what it's actually going to be like. We don’t prepare them, or foster an experience where they are able to thrive under education and support like we do for other avenues of life. Our birth culture, and breastfeeding culture, really our whole motherhood culture is not built in a way that honors or nurtures moms. As the humans raising our future, why wouldn't we want them to be cherished and supported? If we could just learn to value the endless and miraculous role of motherhood, I believe our society and communities would be thriving and so much more vibrant with the joys of life.
We are at a point as a nation where the rates for mothers who suffer from maternal mental health issues, is at an all time high. Mothers are not being cared for, cherished, or protected. This is something to be extremely aware of. Often I see that the people who are fighting back and trying to hold this space that is so needed for mummas, are other mummas who have or are currently going through the same things. From the pressures of fitting in, making friends and building our “tribes”, to the sleepless nights and years, breastfeeding struggles, and lack of overall support during birth and postpartum- moms have enough on their plate! I try to encourage someone every day, go take care of the mother in your life, do something for her, value her, don’t forget about her! She is so important! It is wonderful to see mothers supporting other mothers, but in reality, it needs to come from everyone else too, or change isn’t really happening. Everyone has a mother in their life in some shape or form. Maybe it's your friend, cousin, grandma, aunt, barista, librarian, etc. You have a mother in your life, who you could be supporting! We have to find ways to instill value for our mothers, and for our parents of young children, into the rest of the people. If everyone believed in their value, things would look so much different. Our systems would be built differently, our language would be spoken differently surrounding birth and all the aspects of motherhood.
This is another thing so beautifully pointed out in this conversation between Nicola and I; In any other medical event or surgery- you would get time off, and care and support to get through. But in postpartum, we are expected not only to care for our own healing bodies, but another life as well, and look good while doing it! The pressure is unreal, “get up and go! Who cares that you've been ripped open, or you've gotten no sleep, your body has been stretched everywhere, or you've got a lot of pain, who cares?” We have to change this narrative, and maybe a good starting point is to forgive ourselves for not meeting this expectation, realizing it does not come from a good place but is really just another layer we have taken on that someone else offered. A layer that will not serve us! Ask for help, accept help, be kind to yourself, do something unexpected because really nothing should be expected of us so highly that it damages our mental health.
As mothers, it is so important to be aware of the layers we are taking on. Not only the layers of our life that we have adopted as we’ve grown, but the layers we have taken on just recently, daily even. What are you feeling about yourself this week? What made you feel that way? Is there a way to shed the layers that are not serving you? The insecurity, the mum guilt, the comparison to someone else, what can you shed? The news channel, the phone, what noise can you turn down? How can you make space for yourself? How can you ask others to make space for you? If you can empower your children with options and affirmations, you can do it for yourself too mama, we believe in you so deeply! Sometimes just the asking of these questions, can be a first step to healing and embracing the women and mother we are deep down inside. The one that is not a doer of all things, the one that is fully supported and thriving. We all still have that power within us, to be, to find our strength, to conquer battles and thrive all while wearing a tiara if we choose! Part of that power, is owning the way YOU do motherhood, no matter what that looks like.
I hope you can tune into your own place of peace and power a little bit today, and if you are struggling with prenatal or postnatal mental health, there are SO many resources to help you.
PANDAS have an amazing helpline run by other mums who can help if you are struggling and point you in the right direction to get the support you need. 10% of every Super Mumma sale is donated to PANDAS to help other mummas suffering with perinatal mental health issues.