Powerful Mothers: on body distraction and changing the world

I read an article by Eva Wiseman recently on how some clever (money-grabbing) marketeer has decided that women now need to be wearing arm corsets alongside our magic pants, support tights and push-up bras. What stayed with me most from Eva’s article was this paragraph:

“Women who feel their value lies only in their bodies feel disempowered when their bodies are revealed to be imperfect – they believe they are worthless without a flat belly or wobbleless arm, and they are less likely to speak up. Less likely to ask for a raise, less likely to vote, and less likely to run in politics. Less likely to affect any change except upon their bodies.”

If you’ve visited our Love Mum Body gallery, you’ll know that body image, especially unrealistic expectations of our mum-bodies, is something that hits many of us hard. 

As mothers, our bodies have served a miraculous and powerful purpose. What is more powerful than giving and sustaining life? Than forging people?

What action can change the world in more powerful ways than bringing brave compassionate children into being?

But do you feel strong? Do you feel like someone who is changing the world? 

Sometimes, when I hear that story of mum has made a difference, when I get a compliment that I’ve inspired someone, I do feel like I'm changing the world in my own little way. It's always an amazing empowering feeling... That lasts about a minute.

Because most days… I don’t. Most days, I feel like a disappointingly overweight harried woman, holding on to parenting, work-life and marriage by an over-stretched and fraying safety harness.

I’m a mother, so I don’t sleep much any more. Whatever I’m doing, my brain is half full of my children’s lives. How much of my precious remaining energy is wasted on worrying about my appearance, about what others think of me? How much time lost worrying how I will be judged? Or worse, on judging others? Much much less time than I used to, but still more than I should.

My progress in 40 years? I catch myself doing it, and I stop. I know now that time spent on that is pure waste, and I stop myself. But it still saps energy. Those thoughts sap my power to change the world.

Clever marketing plays on our insecurities, distracts us from what really matters, over and over again. So we worry about stretch marks and saggy tummies and wobbly thighs and grey hair. And have less time to worry about poverty and injustice and the luxury of having these worries in the first place.

We don’t believe we can make a difference. We don’t believe in our own power.

What if we filled our space in the world?

What if we redirected all that self-critical energy into making our voices heard in the world instead? What would a world run by mothers look like…?

Because we do change the world, every day. Every parenting mistake we make, every time we do it right, every time we try, every time we keep going for our kids. We are building the future. We are mothers, our bodies are miraculous, and we are powerful. We are so powerful that we can do more. Much more.

Let’s claim that power together, and turn it outwards. Here’s a first step…

I'm a piece jigsaw pieces

Led by the Craftivist Collective, crafters, (mothers and others,) have set up a fantastic campaign: #imapiece, to raise awareness and funds for Save the Children - through crafting.

Simply by taking a couple of hours to sew a jigsaw piece with a message about how we want to change the world, we can become part of something bigger. We can take that mothering energy and power and use it to help more children. We can take a step towards ending world hunger, and ensuring that no children go hungry. We are powerful enough. We can make a difference.

sewing I'm a piece piece

You don’t have to be a genius seamstress to join in (I know I’m not). You just need to find a way to set aside some time, for your voice, and for that bigger picture. How about using those moments when you would otherwise be telling yourself how rubbish you are and trust in your power instead…

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.

And please sign Save the Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign petition.