The Four Pillars of Nurtured Motherhood
What would the world be like if mothers were truly nurtured and supported?
What would our culture be like if mothers were educated on how to deeply take care of themselves, and were given the time, space and resources they need to feel relaxed, present and nourished?
These are the questions central to the Nurtured Mother philosophy.
Below are the four keys to sustainable mental health in motherhood. But, it is a mutual responsibility for the mothers AND the community around them to make sure that each mother has what she needs to be truly healthy.
Healthy, happy, balanced and well cared-for mothers will create mentally and emotionally healthier children, which leads to a healthier society and more sustainable world. The more we nurture the mothers and give them the resources and space they need to nurture themselves and each other, the more we all will thrive as a human family.
We live in a culture that is more connected than ever, yet more isolated at the same time. The single family home model leaves too much responsibility to one or a few people to raise the children, while creating a society that is largely lonely. The village that is actually needed to sustainably raise kids is most often not available, or not willing to help enough to make a real difference in the lives of families with children. This leaves moms alone with too much responsibility, not enough connection or support, and not enough alone time to truly take care of themselves and express themselves, unless they are able to pay for it.
There is also a big lack of really quality, nourishing connection and community for mothers because of their busy lifestyles and the lack of support. So often moms turn to the internet and social media to meet a lot of their natural needs for connection. BUT, in the social media world, most often the joy is showcased and the hardship is hidden. This leads to a lot of strange distortion, shame, guilt, loneliness and depression in moms who may feel like they can't share their true experiences or bad days, and moms who feel like they are the only ones having said experiences.
This combination of factors leads to a decline in mental health for mothers and a decline in the quality and health of the society. When mothers are healthy, happy and supported, everyone wins.
That’s why the four pillars of Nurtured Motherhood are Authenticity, Creative Expression, Radical Self-Care and Togetherness.
When we as mothers are able to truly deal with and express their feelings, do things with our creative energy besides make and tend to kids, take time and space to integrate seriously self-nurturing practices and experiences into their lives, receive support with child rearing and house holding, and come together in a real sense of safe and connected community, then not only are they able to be great moms and healthy, vibrant people, but they are able to contribute to shaping a healthier, happier society and culture through their children and their creations.
The Four Pillars
Authenticity is both telling it like it is without pretending and also being real with yourself about what you are a feeling. In a culture of emotional suppression and hiding, it is a radical act to be courageous enough to actually feel and process your emotions and be fully transparent with other people about what you are going through. When people are not authentic with themselves and others, it often leads to dependence on external substances or experiences, whether addictions or prescriptions, to cover up and manage the unfelt, unexpressed, suppressed feelings. It also leads to anxiety and depression. All this pretending to be fine also creates a distorted reality where harder emotions are not seen or represented in interactions or society media and therefore those that experience them feel like they are alone or wrong to feel what they feel. It is vital for moms to truly get real— with themselves, other moms and the world— for real health and healing to occur in the mom culture and beyond. Some tools for getting real in this way include having a therapist, talking to partners or friends about what is really going on inside, answering honestly when someone asks how you are, journaling and having a regular meditation practice.
The act of creating something other than children and a household is vitally important for healthy, happy moms. And the practice of cultivating creative energy enhances physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and lowers stress levels. Moms need time to be with their own minds, hearts and creative processes, to make or do something that is all their own, and to wake up that juicy creative aliveness that is within all of us. It is essential for vitality and wholeness. The dominant culture of motherhood creates a lot of guilt for mothers who follow their own passions or take time to create things for their own enjoyment and expression. But, these pursuits are essential to true fulfillment. Whether impermanent, like singing, dancing or making music, permanent such as drawings, or paintings, big like a business, book or an art installation, or small, like just drawing the flowers outside or creating something that is never shown to anyone else, these acts of creative expression contribute to a more powerful sense of mental health and wellbeing for mothers who otherwise caretake or work and think about other people all day long.
Radical Self-Care goes so far beyond spa days. Radical self-care is deep soul searching, healing and boundaries. It means making real time to feel feelings, create things, express feelings, be alone, be with other women, be in nature, be engaged in healing things and practices. Radical self-care means integrating practices and time into a busy daily life that give respite and give a way to truly feel and recharge— beyond booze, netflix, instagram, marijuana or whatever people do to try to get a little break in the motherhood maze. Meditation, movement, hiking, energy healing, journaling, baths, exercise, nature therapy, actual therapy… whatever helps truly fill ones cup. Radical Self-Care means being sacredly selfish, taking time off from care-taking to really take care of the self, and letting go of the guilt around that. Truly integrated Radical Self-Care for a mother is the most important ingredient to a healthy mom and family. And... the time to do this requires Community Care. Mothers need other people to voluntarily look after their kids so they can have time off for their own physical, emotional and mental wellbeing and sanity. Self-care is not a luxury, it's a necessity, and mothers should have more support to be able to prioritize it.
This western world is so focused on the individual, that we have lost sight of the importance of the village. Raising children in our individual nuclear households, while also paying all the bills and doing all the things, is totally unsustainable, not to mention lonely. But, because this is how the world is right now, there is a lot of shame around needing more help or wanting more connection. There is a lack of real, powerful, deep, authentic community in our culture, and it hurts us all. It is so isolating and lonely to be a mom sometimes in this current culture, even though they are often surrounded by people. There is often a shallowness in connections among mothers, or a gathering around the needs and activities of the children instead of the needs of the mothers. There is a serious need for mothers to gather in authentic spaces where honesty is celebrated and judgement is withheld, where moms can tell the truth of their experiences and truly be seen, heard, loved, supported and uplifted by other women and by a larger community. When mothers are actually fulfilled with meaningful connections, their mental, physical and emotional health is restored. This leads to being able to mother and work and live with more power, joy and purpose. And when this happens, everyone benefits—the mother, the father, the children, the community, the society and ultimately, the world.
If we truly give ourselves what we need as mothers, and if we as a society and community truly give mothers what they need to be healthy, helped and happy, our culture will change for the better. And that's really what it's all about.
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