Women’s Rights





This isn’t the post I sat down to write about mothers day. I was looking for that post that will inevitably do the rounds, about how it’s about everyone, including women who have chosen not to be mothers. 

It irks me every year, as does every single like and share of it. Mothers day is about mothers. You don’t need me to spell out what a mother is, or what being one entails. If you are one, or you have one, you know very well. Mothers day is not intended to be inclusive of anyone other than mothers. On mothers day let’s celebrate and honour mothers exclusively.

Anyway, it’s ended up more personal than that.

I have a mother, I am a mother, and my work mainly involves mothers. I have chosen to structure my life in a way that prioritises my children, supports mothers I know and love and those I will never meet, and protects myself so that I can do those things as well as I can.


My mother

I don’t have a relationship with my mother. I left home at 15 and never looked back. My life got easier from that point because we didn’t have a relationship before then either. Sometimes I miss having a mother, but that’s more of an archetype thing, a village thing.
There is no love (or like) lost between us. I think it would have been more complicated to do had there been.
I get the impression from people sometimes that they think I’m being selfish, and I agree, without apology. The result of my decision not to have her in my life at all is energy, which I could easily have spent decades sinking into a relationship that would never have brought me (or her) happiness, and freedom. I get to choose how I spend them both, now.
Sometimes my decision is met with incredulity. But I believe that no one gets a free pass to mistreat someone else, no matter their place in the world or their life, including family members.


My mothering

My relationship to being a mother is as complex as anyone else’s, I imagine. I have been a mother since I was a teenager, so mothering has been (and will be) my entire adult life.
Responsibility is hard to carry when it’s all on you – especially when the needs of a little one are so urgent and immediate. It gets extra difficult to meet those needs when your own aren’t, and you don’t know when or even if they will be. Everything is harder when you’re tired and hungry and doubting yourself.

I have struggled as many of us have, with meeting someone’s emotional needs 24/7, on top of the nappies and snotty noses and overtiredness and worry that come with it all, especially with a first baby. I have found myself wishing to pause time so I can reflect and heal and go within, learn and delve deep, to meditate, and breathe, then go back to it knowing more, being better equipped to deal, feeling more grounded and ready. But you’re always in the midst of it, and there’s always more to each day than you’d expect.
I’m certain that however wanted and loved her children are, every mother has had to face a level of responsibility she could never have prepared for. It seems impossible to do everything all at once, every day and night.

Matrescence is about becoming a mother, but what’s the name for keeping hold of the other things that make you you? During pregnancy the brain gets rearranged to prioritise someone else, so I’ve found that staying best friends with myself to be harder than tending to the needs of my children, since my brain’s been rewired to that. I’ve struggled to be a mother and be myself at the same time.
I have lost myself, and been unable to recognise myself more than once, in the shuffle. In my opinion there are differences between mothering and parenting, and this is one of them.


Other mothers

My relationship to other mothers has a baseline of respect and understanding.

Our website and social media are full of the ways I and the other doulas honour human mothers, but in my private life I honour non-human mothers by not consuming their breastmilk or their body parts.
Dairy doesn’t come from cows, it comes from mothers. Mothers who are grieving the loss of their babies who will be taken from them to live out their same fate or to be killed shortly. She will never know which, but she will feel that loss, over and over again until her spent body is used in other ways. I refuse to partake in that cruelty.
I became vegan at 15 but after a few years “went back” (as if humans don’t start out life as vegans) until I visited a farm and was shown two calves in a stall, across the way from their mother. They were huddled together, umbilical cords still dangling, she was bellowing for them. The farmer proudly told me they keep them in sight of her so she’ll produce more milk. He showed me how the calves would suck my hand due to his reflexes. I tried to offer them comfort, but I was not what they wanted or needed.

two newborn male calves in a stall, separated from their mother and visible upset
The look in their eyes is something I saw time and again while trying to bodyguard women giving birth in hospital. I’ve no doubt it was the same look I had in my own eyes when I was separated from my son at St Mary’s. Mothers in that situation deserve support, in spades of course, but for the sake of my own health and my longevity in my role as doula, it cannot come from me anymore.

So here’s to the mothers. May you respect yourself as a mother, give your mother the respect she deserves, and extend your respect to mothers known and unknown around the world, with the choices that are in your control to make.

White text on a red background from the charity Peta reads: No matter if she has hooves, fur, fins or fingers, all mothers deserve respect today and every day #mothersday

If you want to talk to us about becoming a mother, however far away that was or may be, your relationship to your mother, motherhood or other mothers, or to chat about veganism, you can email us hello@greatermanchesterdoulas.com, contact us through the website, or reach out on social media @greatermanchesterdoulas.

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