When I became a mother I stopped jumping off bridges and climbing tall trees. My world became sleep times, healthy snacks and managing screen time. I planned for my children and eagerly awaited their births. After they were born, I loved them deeply, but I also wanted to retain the wild aspects of myself that made me feel happy and excited to be alive.
In my heart I was still the woman who travelled the world alone and walked across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. I kept my wild inclinations under wraps as I went about changing nappies and obsessing over sleep schedules. I thought that the adventurer in me died with the birth of my children because I could no longer board a plane to Europe or paint for hours.
It took me years to realise that wildness was a state of mind that I could cultivate in the here and now.
I also believed I shouldn’t want for anything more than my children, as if yearning for my creative practices made me a bad mother. My shameful secret was that I wished I could be both a mother and a woman of my own. It took me years to realise that wildness was a state of mind that I could cultivate in the here and now.
The suppression of my natural instincts in the quest to be a good mother came with a price: feelings of depression and anxiety. The birth of my second child was empowering and, in the quiet hours of a home-birth labour, I glimpsed my animal nature shining through. I was amazed by the efficiency of my body and all its knowings, but this knowing disappeared after the birth with the barrage of information on how to sleep train, breastfeed and discipline. I felt weighed down by my inability to get it all right.
Something nagged at me … the quiet whisper of my body, who knew there was a better way, a way I had never been shown. A question formed: What would it look like to rewild motherhood? To move towards a more natural state of being as a woman and mother? The answers that formed have since shaped the way I approach motherhood and the rest of my life. I invite you to try them out.
Create a circle
Be part of, or create, a supportive women’s circle. The experience of motherhood is so much richer when it’s shared with other supportive women in an environment of honesty and integrity. See if you can gather together a few of your closest female friends (sans kids) once or twice a month for a good soul session. Let the wildness begin.
Some elements of an effective women’s circle are:
- Talking bowls. They facilitate a safe space for mums to share stories and listen to each other deeply.
- A blessing or spiritual ritual to begin and end the session. My women’s circle begins with a smudging with sage and ends in a meditation where all the women present hold hands.
- Trust and integrity. All women who are part of the circle must understand the confidential nature of everything that’s said.
- Crafts like basket weaving, knitting or drawing. These can anchor the session and have a calming effect. Try choosing a different craft for each session.
- Ask everyone to bring a plate of home-made food.
- Set up the space using cushions, natural cloths and nurturing colours.
- Light a candle in the middle of the circle.
Awaken your sexuality
As a busy mum it’s so easy to let your libido go on an extended holiday, but it’s worth reviving it. Women with a sexuality of their own exude a wild, natural energy, health and wellbeing, so take the time to explore what makes you feel sexy.
Here are some ideas to start:
- Check in with your body and notice what feels good when engaging in sexual activity. Also notice what doesn’t feel good and ask yourself why you do it. Stop doing things that don’t feel good for you — it’s all about becoming fully present and inhabiting your true sexual self.
- Avoid mainstream porn that degrades women. There are alternatives that respect both sexes and draw on the Kama Sutra for inspiration.
- Wear clothing that makes you feel feminine and sexy and avoid overly tight, uncomfortable garments.
- Devise a ritual before engaging in sexual activity to clearly mark the time as sacred. Light a candle, put a special oil in the burner or listen to relaxing music. Make sex a spiritual practice where possible. I know it’s hard when you’re worried about kids bursting through the door! Just do your best and have a sense of humour.
- Check in with your pelvic floor — you may need to learn to strengthen or relax these muscles after childbirth as they are integral to sexual pleasure and comfort.
- In my experience, it pays to get educated on female sexuality and there are many fascinating sites to help you on your journey.
Know your body
Form a healthy relationship with your reproductive organs. I had no idea what a uterus or cervix even looked like until I experienced abnormal uterine bleeding — and that was after having children. It’s so easy to ignore and separate yourself from parts of your body that you can’t see and many women opt to have hysterectomies after their children are born to stop the unpleasant symptoms of their bodies crying out for attention.
The experience of motherhood is so much richer when it’s shared with other supportive women in an environment of honesty and integrity.
While this is an essential and healthy option for some women, there are benefits to keeping your reproductive organs and tuning in with them on a regular basis. I’m now grateful to my “issue” for forcing me to listen to my body. When I heeded its message I realised it was telling me to rest more and make some important decisions from my wild heart, facilitating deep healing. Here are some ideas for tuning into your reproductive organs:
- Read Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Dr Christiane Northrup to find out everything you need to know about the workings of your reproductive system and the spiritual significance of each organ.
- Chart your menstrual cycle in a journal. This is an empowering process that puts you in touch with the rhythms of your body and nature.
- Whenever you have an unpleasant or painful feeling in your pelvic area ask your body what message it’s trying to send and document the first answer that pops in your mind, without judgment. Tune into your pelvic area daily, checking that you aren’t habitually tightening your pelvic floor muscles. Keep it all relaxed and breathe into any tension in this area.
- Practise affirmations that assert the health of your reproductive organs. Louise Hay has some great affirmations to get your started — or you could just make up your own.
Set boundaries around your creative work
Creative work can be anything that puts you in a state of flow where you lose track of time. It could be baking, bushwalking, pottery, drawing mandalas, journal writing — anything. These beautiful pastimes are often the first to fall by the wayside for mothers because creative practice is seen as a luxury rather than a necessity.
I believe the opposite is true. Regularly prioritising creative work can help to keep feelings of depression and anxiety at bay. So start a creative project today and affirm that you are prioritising it for the sake of your family. Here are some ideas to get you going:
- Join a group that meets at a certain time each week to practise an activity you love. It could be drumming, painting, writing, meditating, walking or basket weaving. Being part of a group will give you a sense of commitment to the creative practice and the benefit of social interaction.
- Let your kids watch you doing your creative work at least some of the time. It’s great for kids to see you making time to do something that lights your fire and they will know that creative work is a valuable and life-affirming pastime.
- Schedule your day on paper or on a phone app, marking time for creative work. It’s a sure-fire way to avoid saying yes to tasks you don’t love or taking on too much. Self-love at its best.
- Let go of rules and of trying to be perfect and let the process take over. View your creative work as a meditation.
- Share you work with others — you may find yourself connecting with more like-minded creative souls.
Be outdoors as much as possible
Nature has the power to heal even the darkest of moods and there are so many ways to move your family and yourself into the outdoors on a regular basis. Here are some ideas:
- Pack a picnic dinner and take it to the beach.
- If the kids wake up super early, pile everyone in the car and drive somewhere beautiful to watch the sunrise.
- When it gets cold enough, switch off the telly and sit around a campfire or chiminea. Tell stories and watch the stars. On a recent camping trip, my six-year-old daughter sat beside the fire for two hours drawing and writing. The peaceful look on her face was priceless.
- Cook dinner outside. Barbecues are great for summer and camp ovens are toasty in the winter months.
- Get the whole family out in the vegie patch, harvesting fresh food. Ask the kids to help prepare dinner.
- Source mini-bushwalks in your local area. Go on magical mystery tours.
- Involve the kids in keeping track of the moon phases and the tides. This helps to keep you in tune with the rhythms of nature and forges a deep connection to your immediate environment.
Nurture a daily spiritual practice
Spiritual practice is another important facet of a nourishing life that’s often discarded by busy mums. It need not be this way. There are so many ways to inject spiritual practice into your life and the benefits are huge. Even a short practice can leave you feeling recharged and calm. It can even inspire creative problem-solving abilities and more effective relationships. Here are a few tips on how to create a spiritual practice that fits your busy life:
- Try the Headspace app for a short meditation practice. It even includes a daily reminder so you can’t forget.
- For short yoga classes at home, find an online yoga website. You can choose between 10-, 20- and 40-minute classes with experienced teacher, all in the comfort of your own home (while the baby sleeps).
- Lighting a candle and staring at the flame for 10 minutes can be calming.
- Say a prayer before dinner.
- Take a few breaths of morning air when you wake up.
- Write down five things you are grateful for before you go to sleep each night.
- Try this loving kindness meditation on your daily walk. As you walk, say in your head “May I be peaceful, may I be happy.” If you encounter strangers along the way, silently say to yourself, “May you be happy, may you be peaceful.” Watch the magic follow.
- Create monthly vision boards to help you stay on track with your spiritual values.
- Experiment and see what beautiful spiritual habits you can form in your daily life.
The evolving wild self
To me, wildness no longer looks like a young woman with a backpack and a map of the world. Life has taught me that wild women can have both family and a rich inner life, and that the two nourish each other. With a little creativity and imagination, you can fully inhabit your wild self and be an inspiring, loving member of your family and an evolving culture.
Women with a sexuality of their own exude a wild, natural energy, health and wellbeing, so take the time to explore what makes you feel sexy.
While you must live in this world as it is — with some rushing and nagging, bills to pay, houses to clean — there is much you can do without. You can discard the self-flagellation that comes with years of being told that you must serve others first at the expense of your own deepest longings. You can do without scheduling your kids for fear that they’ll be left behind by a culture that is moving way too fast. You can let go of the notion of perfection; success is simply you being your best, most authentic self.
What you cannot do without is your wild heart, the whispers that don’t always makes sense but are never wrong. You cannot discard the nagging feeling that you must make time to be creative, reflect on your life and spend time outside in the wind, rain and sunshine.
So listen to your wild whisperings. Your children, partner and community will one day thank you.