How is it really for Mothers?
Can we ponder on the many different ways that women “mother”, regardless of whether or not they are actually a biological mother and have given birth to children or not.
Every woman on the planet can "mother" – how often do we support people at work, offering them advice – how often do young women babysit other people’s children, offering them care and discipline and “mothering”?
How is it really for mothers? Or women in general? What are we told about what it means to be a “good” mother and how much of this do we buy into? Often we can run with what the outside world is telling us rather than trusting our own innate inner knowing.
How often do mothers (or women in general) “put themselves last”, making sure that everyone else’s needs are met before attending to their own – and do we ever get around to this - often this doesn’t happen at all as there always seems to be an endless list of things to do for others. It is easy to keep going – “eventually I will get to sit down and have that cup of tea, or go for that walk, or take that course, or find that part-time job – but I have to sort out the family first – the kids, the husband, the dog, my parents, that girlfriend and her children…”
And for all the women who don’t have children, how much do you buy into this ideal of how a woman should be? That it is her job to look after everyone else? Women have a deeply nurturing quality that is present regardless of whether they are a mother or not, this is innate within us all – but how often do we allow this to be misconstrued into “have to help everyone, have to make sure everyone is ok/happy, it is my job to do everything etc etc”
Women in the workplace may never have had children, but can offer "mothering" to all who come their way in terms of offering support wherever needed.
We also raise the question – can we truly care for others if we don’t truly care for ourselves? The more we are able to care for ourselves, then the more we areable to truly care for others. The more we are able to be kind to ourselves - caring, gentle, non-judgmental, accepting – then the more we are able to be this way with others. If we are hard on ourselves in any way then most likely this is how we act with others.
As mothers we care deeply for the well-being of our children – we want them to grow up to be happy, healthy well-adjusted people who are responsible, and can make their way in the world and care for others etc. So in this process what is it that we buy into? Do we feel that we are somehow responsible for the way our children behave? That to support them means doing their washing/making their lunches/cleaning their room/fixing all their problems – or allowing them todo these things for themselves?
Do we buy into what others tell us? Or do we trust what we feel is needed in any situation, what is needed for that individual child (or person) in that moment, at that point in time – what do they truly need, what will support them to feel loved and cared for, and what will support them to develop into responsible adults who can make their way in the world, stand on their own two feet, contribute to society, care for themselves and care for others.
9 Tips for “mothering”, regardless of whether you are a mother or not: 1. Care for others but don’t take it on, it is not our job to fix others’ problems - step back and allow them to do this for themselves, there is enormous learning on offer for them in this process, and we can support them where needed. 2. Walk your talk and set the example that you want your children or all others to be inspired by – what sort of a role model are you for the way you want your children or others to live. 3. Care for yourself first – when your needs are met and you feel cared for and supported with sufficient sleep, nourishing food, emotional support etc, then you are much more able to truly care for others and offer them this same support. By caring for yourself you also let others know that your needs are important too, just as important as anyone else’s, and that it is not ok to care forothers at the expense of our own well-being. 4. Seek support where needed – be that with babysitting, cleaning the house, chatting with a friend, booking a counselling session or a massage, asking for support in dealing with a difficult situation etc. 5. When your body says stop, then stop. Take 5 minutes to have that cup of tea, lie down and rest when you need to, go to the toilet when you need to, get support with the more physical jobs, don’t push your body. 6. Appreciate yourself and do this daily. Instead of focusing on all the things you‘think’ you haven’t done well, or on all the things you have yet to do – work to develop a deep appreciation for yourself, for just how much you care, just how much support you offer to people, how committed you are. 7. Don’t compare yourself to others – we all offer something valuable and special, no matter who we are, what we do, how we look, what our situation is – just you being you is enough, there is no need to ‘keep up with others’. Why would you feel that what you offer is not enough? That it is not special and valuable? We can be very good at finding fault with ourselves and not very good at appreciating everything that we actually do offer – simply through our presence, our consistency and reliability, our caring and our understanding. 8. Be the eternal student of life – we are ALL learning, and we need to be kind to ourselves in this process. 9. As a wise person once said, “there are no mistakes, only learning.”