Last night, after a long, full day doing many of my favorite things, I felt a bit of anxiety creeping in. I tried to brush it off at first….I’m probably just tired, I rationalized. It’s been a long day.
But then I got curious. Just what was I feeling?
Overwhelm. Anxiety, Doubt. Fear.
What were the triggers?
The million and one pots I’ve got on the stove and how to manage them all. Which burners should I turn off, which should I simmer down, and which ones should I blaze up? And which pots should I just remove from the stove altogether?
Fellow mompreneurs and soul-driven mamas I know you can relate.
Each pot contains multiple ingredients which require time-sensitive and strategic stirring to bring them to completion.
It's a simple thing, but its implications are far reaching.
One of the 5 elements of matrescence is called split attention.
This is the fact that when we become mothers we are required to split our attention between our babies/children and everything else in our lives (mamas, you know this element well)
Thankfully, our evolutionary biology supports our increased capacity for multitasking because it is an essential task of mothering/parenting. One of the benefits of the increased neuroplasticity and oxytocin production in our system is that it makes us more capable of multitasking. So while we are more capable of having lots of pots on the stove, we must also be mindful that, using this same metaphor, our children are always in the oven.
No matter what else we are doing our children require varying amounts of our time, care, and attention, which makes even having one or two pots on the stove challenging. When we are managing multiple pots overwhelm is an inevitability.
“Motherwhelm” tends to lead mothers to feelings of inadequacy and failure, reinforcing a sense of “not-enoughness” that is at the heart of our patriarchal culture. When I woke up the following morning from a slurry of motherwhelmed dreams, clarity came in about what was underneath it all.
PSA. I said to myself. Short for patriarchy strikes again.
You see, aside from the podcast (which I’m so energized to be doing again), the DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) work I am doing in my community, the launching of my Motherbirth program, the blog, being a single mama and midwife of 3, and my own personal growth and healing, there’s a new and exciting birth village project that I’m working on. I can’t share much more on that yet but suffice to say that this project ties together my MotherFly work with my passion for equity, inclusion, sustainability, and community building.
I realized that I do really well in the visionary stage of a project and even in the initial stages of seeing a project start to materialize. Relating all things to birth (because hey, I'm a midwife) you could say this is the gestational stage and early labor. I always did love being pregnant! But once I get into the intensity and challenges of active labor I start to have doubts, lose momentum, and want to shrink into a dark cave and untangle my harried nervous system.
Last night I had started to think about the next stages of the project, the nitty gritty of building and all the decisions to be made and inevitable bumps in the road to be navigated.
And then the overwhelm hit, seemingly out of nowhere but guided by my individualistic patriarchal conditioning.
The supermom archetype.
That lone shero with a cape flying behind her, a baby in one arm, laptop tucked into her armpit, and multiple items in her other arm, standing proud and strong with her eyes on a distant prize. Not a flicker of uncertainty, not even the slightest stench of doubt.
This is the expectation society places on mothers that ends up killing the woman inside.
I woke up with this single clarity. I could remove the constrictive and overbearing patriarchal lenses with which I had been seeing and don a softer, clearer matriarchal outlook. I knew exactly what to do. Pulling a card from the Moon Deck confirmed it.
“When I let others shine, I shine too.”
I started to think of all the amazing birthworkers, earthbuilders, and grant writers whom I can collaborate with. This had always been my intention but I had imagined bringing folks in later and today I realized that the time is now.
True power is collective.
Immediately I felt my body do a big exhale. In the next breath, my inspiration was back in full force and a flurry of ideas poured into my brain.
Freedom is such an essential part of creativity.
Knowing that I wasn’t gonna be doing this all alone lifted the suffocation I was feeling and left me feeling unshackled and open to the fields of possibility before me.
It’s so easy for mamas to feel weighted these days. And it's understandable.
We’ve been taught to strive for the impossible perfectionism of the supermom, which keeps us in a state of perpetual striving and exhaustion. We never reach that coveted moment of arrival, that place of perfect balance where we have done it all - kids/career/partnership/philanthropy - and are now resting on a lounge chair and sipping our well-earned margarita by the glorious aquamarine of the Caribbean sea.
Instead, we are told through every possible medium that this is just around the corner and if we keep exercising, drinking green smoothies, and being pretty and kind, we will get there.
Well, I’m here to tell you- it’s time to burn the supermom and birth the MotherFly.
And we won’t get there alone, we’ll get there in community. It takes a chrysalis to birth a butterfly, and it takes a village to raise a mother.
Are you randomly (or perpetually) caught in anxiety fueled by these impossible expectations? Do you feel powerless to leave the supermom behind?
Let me help you.
If you are chronically exhausted, depleted, or depressed, hop on a discovery call with me and let me share how I can help you leverage motherhood as a portal to your most powerful self (without the overwhelm, impossible standards, and utter exhaustion).