Wednesday, April 29, 2009

mothering the mother

Mothers are so many things. Teachers, nurses, accountants, chefs, house cleaners, negotiators, interpreters, lovers, managers, the list goes on.....

We give so much in so many places every day, a Harvard Study showed that a stay at home mother does the equivalent of 2 full time jobs. What if you are also a work at home/stay at home mother? That means 3 full time jobs! I love my children, I love that I am home with them and can go for a hike up the mountain in the afternoon, or at home to care for them when they are sick. I feel so lucky to be able to have this opportunity.

I also love my work. I love supporting expecting and new families. What I do here with doula care, my classes, breastfeeding support is a passion for me. I follow a tradition of women in my family that have been supporting birthing families for a very long time.

But what happens when you want to be in two places at the same time? How do you give 100% to two different things? And at the end of the day after you have fed, bathed, cleaned, shopped, prepared, sent emails, worked....where is there time for us? We stretch ourselves so thin sometimes that it seems a luxury to have a shower on our own. Don't you ever wish for your mum to come and take care of you? Do your laundry, make you dinner, give you the space to go for a walk on your own? Maybe even take you out for lunch?

New mothers, experienced mothers, any mother, needs to be mothered just as she does for others. She needs compassion, a listening ear, an encouraging voice, a loving hug, a good meal on the table, clean underwear in her drawer, she needs someone to believe in her, to let her know that she is remarkable and so very loved. She needs to be reminded that she is valuable to the family. She needs time to draw or play in the garden, a nurturing environment, fun music to listen to. She needs to be held with compassion and forgiveness and have the space to blossom into her most amazing self.

Don't we do all of these things for our own children? We deserve it too.

Mother's day is on it's way....maybe it's a day for more than just flowers and pancakes.

Monday, April 27, 2009

ah...the good old days

It's been a long day with the kids and I needed a laugh. This ad is from 1961.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

homebirth is so normal...

.....that in Spain it is used to sell mattresses! Well actually in Spain homebirth is not really the norm. It is still a country that medicalizes birth and encourages women to birth in the hospital under the care of a doctor. However, this video sure got me thinking, what a great way to normalize birth, there is no screaming, no panic, no fear. Homebirth doesn't always look like this, but in my experience, this image of birth certainly can happen. What would it look like in this country if we advertised birth this way? What would it mean to remove the fear and replace it with confidence? And if sex really sells, and birth is a sexual experience, then I wonder how this ad has affected the sale of these mattresses?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

being gentle with ourselves

A very dear friend of mine called me last night crying from her van. After a difficult day at work, she found herself in tears, wondering why she couldn't get her life together, why was it so hard when others make it look so easy. As someone who is highly accomplished, competent and brilliant, life with three children ( 11 months, 3 and 4 1/2), living in a new community away from family and trying to find some ground to stand on was just becoming too much. So last night she allowed herself to crumble.

It got me to thinking about our unrealistic expectations of ourselves as mothers. After the first wave of feminism, we were free to "have it all." We could have a career, have a family and a sex life and do it all with style. As young girls growing up, we learn that the whole world is there for us, all we have to do is reach out and grab it.

While I am so happy that I don't have to be shackled to the stove bare foot and pregnant, I often question this idea of us being "Super Moms" or worse "Yummy Mummy." Is it really possible to give 100% to our families, work and ourselves? What is realistic for us to expect of ourselves? And who are we trying to impress? Ourselves, each other?

My friend said to me last night, "I'm accomplished in so many places in my life, and now I can't even get my laundry folded, what is wrong with me?" My heart went out to her because I have been in that same place myself, many times. The truth is, we are not meant to be mothering on our own. As a species we have evolved to live in tribes and care for each others young. We need the support of the whole community to make parenting work.

Somewhere along the line we put mothers in homes by themselves, removed their support systems and told them that they not only needed to keep the house clean, the children well behaved, the husband happy and content in all respects, we also could have a career and somehow keep it all in balance. Is this realistic or are we stretched too far? Do we need to be more open about what we give up, at least for a time, when we have our children? Is that bad? What does surrender really look like? How can we be gentle with ourselves and embrace What Is in the moment instead of looking to the past or expecting things in the future?

If the experience of pregnancy and birth transforms us, then why do we expect to remain the same? much to think about, I'll have more tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

mama's milk

Did you know that babies have the instinct to crawl to the breast after birth and self latch? Would you like to know more about how your body makes milk for your baby? How does a tired mum negotiate sleepless nights with a breastfed baby? Come and find out! I will be offering a FREE talk on Thursday night at 7:00pm at Izzy and Ollie'z in Lake Cowichan. Space is limited so come early and bring a friend. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


We often talk about the newborn baby, but how often do we celebrate the newborn mother? Did you know that in many places around the world, that after the birth of the baby it is the newborn mother that is given special treatment and celebrated? Some cultures support women staying quiet with their baby for the first 40 days as the mother is given daily massages, good healthy meals and is required to do nothing but rest and breastfeed. In other cultures, after the baby is 1 month old, the mother is celebrated within the village with music, food and dancing. Her passage into motherhood is something to reveer and respect. In our culture, we often focus only on the baby, which is certainly a miracle and something to celebrate! But in this process, we forget to honour the journey the mother has just made, her right of passage.

Regardless of how birth unfolds, weather at home, in the hospital or by cesarean, birth is a transformative experience. This moment in a woman's life when she is asked to draw upon every ounce of strength and courage she has to birth her baby, changes a woman forever. It changes how we see the world around us, our purpose for being here and the strength that we didn't know we had. It can be a completely empowering experience that reminds us of how capable and strong we are and allows our hearts to grow to their full capacity. This is something to celebrate and honour!

I had the privilege to witness this beautiful baby's birth and support his mother and father in their birth experience. I am always amazed at how babies come into this world, how they find their way and how mothers know just what to do to bring them here. As a baby is born, so is a mother born. Even when it is not a mother's first baby, she is always born anew with each child. I remember saying to a friend after the birth of my daughter "I should know this stuff, I'm not a new mother." My friend said to me "ah, but you are a new mother to her!" In that moment I realized as I nursed my newborn baby, I also needed to care for myself as a newborn mother.

So the next time you are with a new mum, consider how you might celebrate her journey. It may be with a loving massage, or a good meal, or even just listening to her story as she shares her life changing experience with you. This delicate postpartum time can be so much more than duckie diapers and onsies, it can be a time of true celebration and honouring for both the mother and the father. It is a birth of the family.

Monday, April 6, 2009

good friends

This past weekend two of our very dear friends with their adorable daughter came to stay with us. I love having these two come over, it is always so great to be with people that you can just relax with and not have to care how clean the house is.

This weekend however was no ordinary weekend, this was the weekend of The Date. Yes, that's right, my husband and I actually got to go out on a real date. We went for a really nice dinner to a place that had linen napkins, not paper ones that come out of a dispenser and there were no crayons or spilt drinks on the table! This was the genius idea of my good friend Windy. She and her partner stayed at our house and looked after our children while we went out. The next morning we stayed with their daughter while they went out on their first date since she was born.

People always ask me how you maintain a relationship after the birth of a baby. It's not always easy and for many people, like ourselves it takes a bit of creativity. But that is one of the wonderful things about being a parent, it gives you the opportunity to find new and creative ways of doing things and discovering how fantastic it can be to just sit down with your partner and enjoy a meal and some good, uninterrupted conversation with each other.

It also helps when you have really good friends to support you. Thank you Windy and Sacha!