Celebrating ‘Motherhood’ – in all it’s forms.

Celebrating ‘Motherhood’ – in all it’s forms.

              To all the women waiting to become mothers; the women waiting for ovulation, waiting for a positive test result, waiting for an embryo to implant, waiting for the next round of IVF….I see you. Happy Mother’s Day. May today your mother heart be strong and patient. May you celebrate this part of your heart that is holding space for motherhood – preparing and planning and focusing on faith. Be kind to yourself today; hone in on your self love and self care skills.
              To all the women out there navigating baby loss today. The mothers who miscarried, the mothers who gave birth to sleeping babies, the mothers whose babies went to sleep one day and didn’t ever wake up: the mothers whose every single cell of their beings aches today with a love and a pain that words can never begin to do justice to. I see you. Happy Mother’s Day. Today we celebrate your strength and your humanity and your love –  the most tenacious Mother’s Love there is – a love that crosses an incomprehensible veil between this earth and a place beyond. May today you offer yourself the most tender self compassion you can muster. No doubt the heavens will make sure the night stars shine even brighter tonight.
              To all women out there who are pregnant, at 6 weeks or 42 weeks pregnant and any or all of the weeks in between; the women who are feeling like ethereal pregnant goddesses and the women who feel grumpy and heavy and who are praying for labour to begin just so they can see the end of the physical struggle of pregnancy. Maybe you woke up this morning to the first signs of labour. Maybe today you will meet your baby for the first time? Wherever you are in pregnancy (or in labour!); I see you. Happy Mother’s Day. May you take a moment of stillness and connection with the baby/babies inside your body to acknowledge and process this miraculous and radical transformation internally and externally. May you enjoy the unfolding; even if it’s just for a moment here and there amongst the physical discomfort.
              To the women out there in the beginning of the 4th trimester or “the newborn cocoon”, the women mothering singletons and twins, triplets or quadruplets even: those early weeks of parenting tiny little humans who are acclimatizing to life on earth is really intense. You’re probably feeling like “all you’re doing is feeding, eating, sleeping and soothing” and yet this is some of the most important and the hardest work in the world – and you’re doing it! I see you. Happy Mother’s Day. Keep on taking it one day at a time, one feed at a time, one sleep at a time….and if that all feels like too much….?
One. Breath. At. A. Time.
Relax your shoulders, make space to breathe, close your eyes and allow my promise to sink it: “It will get easier!”
              To the women out there parenting bouncing babies, one year olds, two year olds, threenagers, teenagers, grown up children….whatever stage of development or sleep regression  or rite of passage you are parenting your little humans through: I see you. Happy Mother’s Day. As you look back on all the Mother’s Days that came before I hope you can give yourself a huge pat on the back for all your flexibility, your perseverance, your tenacity, your patience and your commitment to parenthood. Parenting little humans is such a juggling act – and you’re there in the thick of it (or you came through it!) doing it year after year after year, no let up. On this Mother’s Day I see your hard work on all those 364 days in between the annual day of recognition. Look in the mirror today and offer yourself three things: acknowledgement, appreciation and forgiveness. Forgiveness for all the moments that you didn’t quite parent the way you wanted, and more importantly forgiveness for the moments that you didn’t acknowledge and appreciate yourself for the fantastic job that I am certain you’re doing; for the moments that you let yourself be racked with guilt over something and nothing and you forgot your fabulousness. Walk away from the mirror and somewhere today indulge in at least one act of radical self care. Even if it’s just enjoying a scoop of your favorite ice-cream in the bath once all the little humans are in bed with their eyes closed.
              To all the women out there navigating parenthood alone; and to the men navigating parenthood alone – for there is significant part of you that plays the role of “mother” too. To those parents flying solo….even if they regularly feel like they can barely swim with their head above the surface. Maybe you feel a little lonely this morning; maybe your little human(s) didn’t know it was Mother’s Day and perhaps no-one reminded them or wrote you on their behalf.
I see you. I feel you. I hear you.
Happy Mother’s Day!!!
May today you Mother yourself too. May you offer yourself the unconditional regard and love that you offer your child/ren today. May you celebrate your breathtaking strength and tenacity and energy and perseverance and all the other powerful forces that you embody. And whatever you do – don’t forget your super hero/ine cape today! Wear it with pride!!!
              To all the women out there who are grandmothers and great grandmothers – who have seen and mothered through multiple generations. We are here because of you; you bore babies who grew ovaries and wombs which made and carried your grandchildren and great grandchildren – you brought us to the earth – and we have the pleasure to watch you dote on the generations that came after you. We cherish your wisdom and experience, you laid the foundations for our mothering and sometimes that means that we learnt through you what not to do, and sometimes we see you making sense of the new ways of mothering.
I see you. You are awesome! Thank you!!!
              To everyone out there missing their mother today….maybe your mother passed away, maybe your mother lives on the other side of the world, maybe you are estranged from your mother, maybe your mother has Alzheimers, maybe your relationship with your mother is not as close and emotionally nourishing as you wish it could be, maybe your mother abandoned you.
I see you. There are some significant taboos around our relationships with our mothers and around familial struggles which still persist and can make talking about anyone of these scenarios really difficult. That struggle is so real and so hard, and can be very lonely and isolating – especially on Mother’s Day. May you find an aspect of your mother, or your ability to self mother, or another mother figure in your life, or even simply the ‘Divine Mother’ who you can celebrate today. May there be a memory or aspect of your life which you can access easily and comfortably which can bring you some joy to reflect on today. Be kind to yourself and offer yourself adequate space to honour the varied emotions which may come up on this day…..it’s all valid.
              To all the other one of a kind mothers out there: the step mothers, the adopted mothers, to the foster mothers, the fur baby mothers, the motherly figure who chose not to have or who couldn’t have babies, the not so motherly figure who chose not to have or couldn’t have babies, to the women who are contemplating motherhood but are not quite decided, to the mothers who gave up their child/ren for adoption, to the mothers who aborted their babies, to the mothers who mother projects or art or gardens or the earth or who mother other women in their care provider roles…..and to any person who identifies within themselves their mothering abilities who I have missed here:
Happy Mother’s Day.
I see you. I love you.
 Thank you for all that offer the world as a mother.
thumbnail_IMG_7244
This incredible image was created by https://www.instagram.com/merakilabbe/ please go check out the rest of her fabulously feminine creations.
#worlddoulaweek 22-28 March 2015

#worlddoulaweek 22-28 March 2015

I am a birth doula because I believe passionately that if we change our birth stories, one at a time; we can change the world – one mother and one baby at a time.

To have the honour of supporting and nurturing a woman during her pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum period; to help her stay in touch with her power, her vulnerability, and her courage; to hold and protect those sacred spaces during this time in her life to allow her to surrender into them; is utter oxytocin-fuelled loveliness.

To celebrate: I’m currently able to offer my voluntary services as a doula for three families within Calderdale and Kirklees, in exchange for evaluation of my service and support to facilitate my full certification and for my ongoing learning.

I am looking for families that are due to give birth somewhere in the next 2 to 10 weeks; as this will give them the optimal time to enjoy the benefits of being supported and nurtured by a doula.

If you engage me to support and serve you as your doula, you can expect:
– to be listened to and be heard
– to be seen and be appreciated
– to be encouraged and empowered
– to be served and honoured
– to be nourished and nurtured
– to be supported unconditionally; no questions, no judgements, no compromise

Having completed an advanced skills course with Penny Simkin on supporting survivors of abuse (sexual, physical or emotional) and PTSD sufferers, I am very well equipped to support women who have survived childhood or adult abuse, and would be pleased to be able to offer such support on a voluntary basis. I am also interested in supporting single mothers, and mothers having a VBAC, please make contact directly.

Here’s to healthy, happy and relaxed pregnancies;
here’s to cherished and empowered labouring goddesses;
here’s to nurtured and confident mothers:
here’s to the benefits of the extra support, information and nurture that doulas can offer!

Doulas: cherishing, nurturing, informing, coaching and empowering women throughout pregnancy, labour and early motherhood.

Ilena J Standring
Doula & Coach
Amsterdam

+31(0)648688308

Yesterday I fell apart

Yesterday I fell apart

Not completely. Let’s say my façade fell apart. My mother and baby group tribe got to see the real messy, emotional, vulnerable, snotty, sweaty and mascara melting side of me which I strive to keep so well hidden….

Yesterday was day two of my back flaring up. No baby wearing – the stroller was out (oh how my self judgements raged about being disconnected from Jasper/how I’m failing at the attatchment parenting model/gremlin grumbling ad infinitum). I lost my tram pass (grrrrrrrrrr) so bought a single ticket (cue bigger GRRRRRRRR) and found some redemption in the pleasure of giving a free pass to the first person waiting at the tram stop I debarked from. Then I remembered I was 35 minutes late…rush in to the building as fast as possible – never mind the back twinges!

I came upon my new mummy friends and their bubbas sat around in an oxytocin filled room, sheepskins, blankets, fleeces, big innocent eyes, new teeth to speak of, bare bouncing bottoms, warm sudden wet fountains(!)….for the first time that day I felt like I could really breathe. I was greeted by a big kiss and “You’re looking hot today!” Indeed I’d highlighted my eyes with a stripe or two of liner, somehow hoping that a little jet black mascara and Mac serpent green would galvanise me and prevent me from losing my marbles.

My little man was excited to be in the building, which he already associates with joy, connection, laughter, song and development. He greeted everyone with big flirty Gemini smiles, more than happy for that moment to be centre of attention in a room full of love. He was a useful distraction for me; an extension of my facade. I brushed off my wince of pain as I sat down with a brief comment acknowledging it wasn’t anything physical, just some emotional turbulence manifesting physically. And our mother and baby Shiatsu massage session started. Monika was magnificent – connecting with everyone in our group individually and collectively. We all learnt a lot. We breathed deeply. We let go. We watched our bubbas let go and love us even more in our spacious open selves.

And the session ended. Monika graciously, generously went to one of our mums – a true warrior goddess recovering from major surgery on her intestines but eager to see us at her earliest opportunity. We busied ourselves chatting and beginning to clothe our naked mini beings.

I felt Monika’s hand before she said “And you Mama….lets work out whats happening with your back”.

The touch of a human. The touch of a mother. The touch of a balanced centred and well intentioned woman, a nurturer. Wow; always a pleasure – but as a solo parent and a single person one of the things we can miss the most is the loving touch of another. Already I felt relief. What ensued was Monika inviting me to lay face down on a yoga mat – my little man was quickly tended to by a loving mother with spare hands(!) – and Monika set to work on my spine…. Pretty quickly there was a big build up and release of heat, the tension seemed to vibrate underneath my skin, my spine tingling with the targeted manipulations. The tears fell, fortunately my hair covered the side of my face, but then the heat and the sweat took over, the thoughts tumbling –

“Oh jeeeeez….how will I manage to spring up and surreptiously wipe up this pool of tears, snot and sweat as I head off to the bathroom once she’s done?”

“What is wrong with me that a massage does this to me time after time?”

“Breathe…ouch that hurts….breathe….ouch that hurts….breathe”

“Oh my god I’m supposed to be leading a session with these ladies next week – who the hell will respect me enough to participate NOW?”

…..you get the picture!

Monika’s magic hands sensed it was time to stop kneading. She advised me to stay still for a few moments, reassuring me that Jaspie was just fine. I thought “Jump up, drag your sleeve over the wet patch, look at the floor and make a dart for the door – no one will see your mascara streaked panda face- go go go!”

My body had other plans. It threatened to spasm. The fear came. I froze. I eased myself back on the floor.

Darling Esther arrived at my side with loving arms and gentle cooing tender words. Reassuring and distracting, encouraging me to take some time. The rest of the thoughtful, considerate group of women held the space, gave me space, took their space and led by example: they allowed the experience to just be what it was, in that space, on that day, and loved me anyway. No sideways glances. No whispering. No knowing looks. No false comments about “everyone falling apart sometimes” or “hormones eh?!” No single mother pitied projections, no meaningless “I don’t know HOW you DO this on your OWN”.

Once I’d manoeuvred my sobbing damp self off the floor, I was held. They mothered me. They continued to hold the space around me. Judgement free, hurry free, question free.

So I had fallen apart. Not completely but not far from. My façade had fallen completely away. My sisters got to see the real messy, emotional, vulnerable, snotty, sweaty and mascara melting side of me which I strive to keep so well hidden.

My aching back still grating. The fear of a spasm lock down still playing out in my head. My mascara still tracing an interesting angle vertically on my cheek. But feeling seen. Feeling valid. Feeling cherished.

And the falling apart; it was OK. Really. It was more than ok – it was a huge relief. It was an opening. It was authentic. And we connected even more deeply than before. We bonded; our hearts wide open and non-judging. We “saw” each other. Me through my lens of tears; they through lenses of empathy and compassion. My falling apart represents progress for me. Letting go and letting people in. And through letting it all hang out and being totally accepted even in that snotty messy version of me, I get the added bonus of feeling SO much healing gratitude that my life is blessed with 150 minutes, once a week, with a sisterhood that does what our ancestors and our tribal counterparts know heals the spirit of a woman more than any drug or any therapy session could ever do.

With heartfelt gratitude to my sisters and their beautiful bouncing gurus from ‘Tiny & Mighty’, and wishing all who read this post a bare minimum of 150 minutes of utter and complete acceptance and authentic connection, this week and every week.