Last week I was faced with a choice between an emergency family situation and a commitment that I had that was equal parts work and self-care. I chose my family. The response that I was somehow not in my power because I chose my family and personal self-care needs triggered me. Not because I believed it; I stand in my own power of choice each and every day, but because it made me sit back and think about whether or not I have shamed women for giving away all of their energy to their family’s needs, or shamed them for “putting themselves last”. Making a big assumption that this was not by choice for many women. Yet when I left corporate America it was because I vowed I would never have to choose between my family and work, or make the women I work with have to make that choice.
Do I believe we as women are natural nurturers and sometimes do put ourselves last, and don’t always keep our cups overflowing, yes. Do I believe we need self-care, reflection and alone time in order to best serve those around us? YES. Is that always possible, especially for women with small children? NO! But does that mean they are giving away their energy and power, losing the core of who they are? Sometimes Yes and sometimes no, but it does not have to be so.
My work in the world is women’s transformational workshops and facilitating women’s circles. Creating women’s sacred circles is becoming a movement in modern cultures. It is a place to share our vulnerabilities and successes with other women; provide a safe place for women to hold each other; to witness each other, because we are not alone. It is a place for self-care and reflection, and sometimes just being our Wild Woman selves. For obvious reasons, children are not welcome at most circles. And that is the paradox I have been sitting with all week.
The premise of many women’s circles is honoring the Divine Feminine and our power to create, whether we choose to create life or not. Women’s circles in the modern world are loosely based on women in tribal societies both ancient and in today’s world. The idea that women in tribal societies live their lives together, always supporting each other, and that in modern society we have lost the connection with each other and we are working to repair sisterhood wounds that we have experienced.
But here is the thing; women in tribal societies do not find babysitters and nannies to take care of their kids while they are working, socializing, or engaging in sacred ceremony. They are not excluded from circle because they cannot find someone to take care of their kids. Their CREATIONS are always with them, the children are a part of the ceremony, learning the spiritual practices of their ancestors; that is how the tribe continues. They are not viewed as disruptions to a spiritual process; they are part of the spiritual process and expected to carry it on. And women in tribal society rarely get to have “self-care”, pedis, massages, and spa weekends. They provide each other with that nurturing while they are working their butts off to provide for and take care of the village.
And yet in modern circles, we say this is time without our kids, without our partners, just for us. Is that needed YES, but at what cost? In the end it means we are excluding the women with young children, who perhaps do not have the support to leave their kids at home. And it is these very women who are in a time of their lives where they desperately need to be surrounded by supportive women, who need help, who need to be honored for where they are in the moment and not “lose themselves”.
Trust me, my son’s toddler years were some of the most difficult in my life, I had a social group I belonged to, went to play dates, got to be with other moms. But it was not the same as sitting in circle in a sacred way and engaging my senses, being in my creation. So then when my son went off to school I went through some of the deepest, darkest times of loneliness of my life. I no longer knew what my purpose was, all the moms disappeared into the ether. I was alone for 8 hours a day. It was a dark night of the soul. It has taken me 7 years to create and find circle and support, and do deep spiritual work. I don’t want any other mother to be in that place, EVER.
A few weeks ago as part of my own spiritual journey, I went into a vision of my future and what my cause is to create. I saw myself maybe 10 years older; there were women, children, and a sense that I was providing a safe haven. I did not understand the vision at the time, because other than my son I don’t normally surround myself by children. Now I get it. I had forgotten how hard things were as a mother just a few short years ago.
While I will always continue to provide a space for women to come together for a little while to let go of their family responsibilities even for a short time. It is now my mission in the next year to provide a way to include a safe and sacred place for women to come into ceremony and creation with their children. The world needs this.