On Empowerment

The ever inspiring Teika Bellamy of Mother's Milk Books shares what empowerment means to her for our fifth guest post on Mama Activism.

What does being empowered mean to you as a mum? We'd love to hear your thoughts below and on Wednesday at our #somum Make Date...

Definition of empowerment: give power to; make able.

An individual who is prepared to do soul work, to really reflect on her life history, her choices, difficulties and dreams begins the process of empowerment. Through self-questioning and honest probing into the dark parts of her psyche she grows in power; she makes able. She does not wonder how she can change herself (or her body) to better suit the world; she wonders how she can use her own unique gifts to change the world for the better.

So how does a woman begin the process of empowerment? Well, at any age she can immediately start by examining her life and asking herself big questions such as: Am I happy? What do I want to do with my life? Who do I want to share my life with?

Often, I have seen that the process of empowerment starts with the conception of a child. Some mothers begin deep reflection when pregnant. They ask themselves questions such as: How do I want to give birth to my child? How do I see myself in the birthing process? And then… How am I going to mother my child?

Some pregnant women, perhaps very young, or absorbed in the world of work, may only begin on self-reflection after the birth (be it weeks, months or years later). Some mothers may analyze and replay every moment of the birth.  They wonder: How do I feel about how I gave birth to my child? Did I get the birth I wanted? These questions lead to the ultimate question: Was I empowered by the birth I experienced?

Next comes another important phase of a mother’s life: her breastfeeding story. In my voluntary role as a breastfeeding counsellor I have provided support and information to many mothers over the past three years. Some mothers have few breastfeeding challenges to overcome; some have considerable difficulties to surmount.

Yet the one thing that connects them all, whether the hurdles they’ve overcome are big or small, is this: empowerment. They have gained confidence in themselves and their own bodies; and to see them growing as mothers and achieving their own breastfeeding goals is really wonderful.

I founded Mother’s Milk Books in 2011 so that I could publish some of these mothers’ birth, breastfeeding and mothering stories. I am a great believer in the power of story, be it through artwork, poetry or prose. Stories helps us to connect with each other, and they offer us the chance to learn deeper truths about ourselves. Books that empower individuals are those that provide new knowledge or fresh insight. And that vital information can then enable a person to grow in compassion and wisdom.

I also believe that the very act of creating something new (be it creating a family, a fine work of art, a heart-wrenching poem, or even a tidy lounge!) is empowering.

Teika doodlemum

'Teika, Jerome, laundry basket' - copyright © Angie Stevens 'Doodlemum'

I believe that empowerment of mothers is of utmost importance in a society which does little to support mothers, children and families. Mothers every day, by their small kindnesses, tender words and ever-expanding hearts are creating, and deepening relationships with their loved ones. They are the ones building communities, preparing meals, doing the never-ending laundry and managing the everyday running of the household.

If each household was considered a boutique hotel, then mothers would be defined as managing directors — and paid a good wage! Yet how often is the job of mothering publicly valued or praised? Hardly ever. It’s easy for mothers to think their work has little worth in a world which places so much value on money alone.

Yet, psychological empowerment aside… families cannot live on the riches of their souls alone. So my dream is to grow Mother’s Milk Books into a publishing house that is able to employ creative mamas — utilizing their much-undervalued creativity — to produce beautiful, empowering books.

My dream may seem lofty and unattainable, (it might be, who knows?) yet at the heart of Mother’s Milk Books is this: one mum, passionate about breastfeeding and books, trying to support her own family so that she can stay at home with her little ones.

My brand of activism may seem a little tame in comparison with all the other amazing things that are being done in the world right now, but words ARE powerful. And when they have been carefully, lovingly crafted by an empowered woman — ah! — they have the ability to inspire change in the lives of others.

 

This month we're encouraging mums to embrace their inner Mama Activists and join in with Craftivist Collective's #imapiece project. Find out more about #imapiece and join in with us here.

We'll be talking about Mama Activism and starting to make our #imapiece pieces at our next #somum Make Date on 13 February from 8.30pm - 10pm UK time (world times here). We'd love you to join us.

 

You might also like these other fab posts in our Mama Activism series:

Activate Mama Bloggers (about Team HONK and Red Nose Day)

Parenting and activism: @Lulasticblog

Powerful mothers: on body distraction and changing the world@storyofmum

Mumra and other thunderous Kats@katpearce

How do you measure making a difference? Jenelle @TrashN2Tees