By Philippa Scott
Hands up if you have ever felt lonely as a mother? Not alone, that almost never happens. I mean that void in you that cries out to be filled. The nagging needs to be a part of a click, a village, a tribe. To be one of the gals. You have? Me too!! I felt this need so acutely I remember hanging out in mothers’ rooms for longer than I really needed in the hope that I would find a kindred spirit.
You see, I moved 1400 km from my family and friends when my eldest was 3 months old. I didn’t know anyone except my husband and his parents, and they worked from 4am till 5pm weekdays and about the same on the farm on weekends. I was 40 minutes out of town, and I felt each minute as if it was an hour. I was alone with a new baby, isolated and desperate for companionship.
I remember hanging out in mothers’ rooms for longer than I really needed in the hope that I would find a kindred spirit.
But here’s the thing, even if I hadn’t have moved, I probably would have felt similarly. A lot of mums do. Mothering, especially the first time, is a massive life change. Going from paid employment to a love job that gets very little credit is only part of the challenge. What about the lack of sleep for months on end? The physical and emotional recovery from birth? The round the clock feeding, burning and nappy changing? Feeding the others in the house, sometimes even yourself, cleaning, and washing? As if that all wasn’t enough, everyone expects you to look great doing it!
Anyone overwhelmed yet? Yeah, me too!
The day I started writing this I was honoured to attend a mother blessing; it takes the place of a baby shower and is about honouring a woman’s journey from maiden to mother or from mum of some to mum of more. It honours her for the shift about to occur and creates around her a circle of women who hold space for her in the weeks ahead, both emotionally and physically. I believe every woman should have one. Anyway, I was struck by how many of the attendees had experienced intense loneliness after the birth of their child/ren. In my work as a TRTP practitioner (I help people overcome the pain of the past and rewrite their limiting beliefs), I specialise in birth trauma. Very often that birth trauma involves feelings of being alone, isolated, or not valued as a person in the journey to motherhood. Are we seeing a pattern here? Our culture doesn’t do a very good job of honouring and supporting mothers.
I specialise in birth trauma. Very often that birth trauma involves feelings of being alone, isolated, or not valued as a person in the journey to motherhood.
Now, just imagine: you have a friend or five, who take turns to come over each day. They fold some washing and bring you a meal. They hold the baby so you can shower, and they give you a hug when you cry about how little sleep you got last night. You feel held, you feel validated, and you feel important. How wonderful you feel, and because you are held, because you have this connection, you can show up each day with grace, love, and tenacity. Giving yourself the grace to try and fail. Giving yourself and your baby the love that you both so richly deserve. Giving your all with the tenacity of someone who knows they have a safe place to fall.
So why is it that this connection between women and mothers is so important? As women, we have an extra response to stress and distress that men do not generally have. We all have fight, flight, freeze. But women also tend and befriend. Science tells us that as women we are biologically driven to tend to our children and to provide care and safety, and a big part of that requires creating a support community. That’s where the befriend comes in. The hormones and chemicals in our bodies are literally driving us to reach out and create connections! So, reach out to someone, you never know, you might be their saving grace that day as well as your own.
Pippa is a mother of 4 daughters, a TRTP Practitioner, a Birth Trauma specialist and a Doula of over 19 years. She is passionate about mothers and families having a healthy mindset around pregnancy, birth and parenting. Mums are the heart of the household! How we feel matters! Having been a Doula for almost 20 years, she has experienced many ways to support families. All of Fantastic Futures‘ services are designed to make the preparation and parenting journey happier, healthier and more nurtured.