The trap of the Good Mother: A guide to dismantling the lies

I’ve been enjoying really open, rich conversations with inspiring women recently. Women at different stages of their mothering journey.

In honest reflections of how we used to, or how we currently manage where our energy goes in the role of raising and caring for young children; many women mention the conscious choice to shut down other avenues of life to solely focus on mothering because they believed it was the right thing to do. 

It led me to reflect personally about how much I used to buy into the story that a “good mother” was someone who spent the majority of her time mothering (as opposed to working, socialising, creating, etc) and serving the needs of all other family members before herself.

After years of personal unpacking around this (read more about my journey with the Good Girl Complex here), It feels true for me that I lived out this belief because I felt I needed to compensate somehow for not contributing to the family financially. I would bitch and moan at my husband for not making me feel worthy as a woman and mother, but the truth?


I didn’t feel worthy enough as a woman, and most definitely not as a mother, to honour my own needs, establish personal boundaries, and make choices and take actions that would nurture my soul.

I blamed my husband and the world at large for my frustrations. I blamed outside forces when ultimately, it was me dishonouring my sacred purpose.

Sacred purpose defined as living as and in the FULLEST EXPRESSION OF MY BEING.

I now know deeply, that who I am is indeed a mother (a blessed one at that), but I am also a lover, a creative, an adventurer, an entrepreneur, a feminine leader, and an extension of the infinite universe – and that’s just the beginning.

Back then, once the penny dropped that only I could change my situation, I began to investigate the question; can a GOOD mother be all of the things I mentioned above – all at once?

Notice, I’m asking whether can she BE all the things at once, not DO all the things at once.

This is an important distinction to make.

So many of us experience the identity crisis of motherhood from the angle of DOING. We believe that what we do define us. But that is untrue.

Changing nappies and pureeing carrots does not a mother make. Hell, even the act of giving birth does not necessarily make a mother.

What we do is only one aspect of who we are. And as multi-faceted beings, the truth and expression of who we are lies with us.

It was this notion that inspired what I now refer to as my un-smothering process.

A body, mind and soul-based approach to non-linear self-inquiry with the intention of dismantling the beliefs or ideas we carry that quite simply, make us feel like shit.

A process that helps me create space around and breathe deeply into what smothers my truth.

When I meet a belief in myself that I suspect could be a heap of outdated rubbish that feeds into patriarchal structures that keep me small, this is an invitation into the un-smothering process.

It looks like asking myself questions relevant to these 4 Principles:

UN-LEARNING

OWNERSHIP

EXPRESSION

DEVOTION

For example, say I catch myself stuck in a loop of behaviour over time. An event arises where I’m triggered, and instead of launching immediately into my habitual reflex, I pause and shift my attention to the first principle of UN-LEARNING in the process. I’m mindful to add that this may take a few tries. They’re called habitual triggers for a reason.

Anyhow, if I’ve managed to catch myself, I inquire:

What am I being invited to UNLEARN right now?

Sometimes, it’s an instant knowing. Other times (and often later on, when I have space), it takes some sitting with and feeling into.

Either way, giving space to what needs to be un-learned can’t simply be tackled on an intellectual level. This process must be FELT. Contacting the wisdom of your mind, body AND soul in this is essential.

Once I arrive at my truth, and I know when I’ve hit it because while I’ll experience an intuitive felt knowing, often it will be simultaneously accompanied by the immediate resistance of my reptilian brain, i.e., messages of fear, uncertainty, excuses, and external barriers will bounce back to protect me.

It’s the second principle of OWNERSHIP that supports me here.

I’m an enormous believer in self-responsibility. As far as I’m concerned, this is what separates the maidens from the mothers (in an archetypal sense).

We bandy about the concept of sovereignty a lot these days, but I’m not sure many of us grasp that we cannot claim to be sovereign women until we begin to take responsibility for how we’ve contributed to maintaining and enabling our own misery.

Don’t confuse me – I’m not blaming you, I or anyone else for their personal experiences of suffering abuse or maltreatment.

I’m not asking us to own the hideous things that have been done to us, but I am asking us to honestly explore the areas in our lives where we’ve continued to keep an unhealthy dynamic alive, or handed over our power again and again, because we’re reluctant to meet the fear of the unknown.

Not because we’re terrified of how weak we might be, but perhaps because we’re terrified that if we choose to back ourselves, choose to change up the stories and stand for the kind of life we dream of, we might just learn how capable and POWERFUL we actually are.

And to own that is BIG. Bigger than big.

In my case, in the exploration of what it means to be a good mother, diving deeply into the mother wounds passed down in my family and owning them, has felt imperative to my un-learning.

It’s also felt important to pull apart significant relationship dynamics, the parts of me that have never felt enough, and patterns of self-sabotage that I’ve come up against in my business.

Meeting consciously entrenched beliefs and behaviours, and excavating the less conscious beliefs that lay beneath them has been an integral part of my journey to self-ownership.

It’s been stepping into RADICAL RESPONSIBILITY and RADICAL RECLAMATION equally, that continues to drive my commitment to owning my shit and showing up to life with more integrity.

It’s the showing up part that calls for the principle of Expression.

Please don’t get expression confused with communication in this context. I mean, it’s relevant to effective communication for sure, but expression in this case is about so much more.

It’s the door to depth. The portal to pleasure. The gateway to the Goddess (in you).

Within the process of unsmothering ourselves from suffocating societal conditioning and outdated internal programming, EXPRESSION is the tool for cultivating receptivity AND transmission.

I stand fiercely by the belief that if your daily life doesn’t include practices or rituals that support you to slow down, check in, open your heart, cultivate a connection to the Universe/Higher Consciousness/God, allowing you to re-source yourself beyond your finite human capabilities… well, this is where it might be helpful to return to the principles of un-learning and ownership.

When my eldest was 4 and my youngest was 1, I realised that as far back as a decade before my children, I had been shutting down opportunities for self-expression. As a result, by that stage my ability to express my needs, desires and boundaries with authenticity and courage in my relationships and with my kids was suffering.

I’d convinced myself I didn’t have the time, energy or resources to prioritise self-expression. I was “too busy” with more important things and getting shit done.

It hit me hard when I realised I didn’t have a clue who I was anymore because I’d morphed into a walking, talking, doing machine. I’d lost touch with the actual important things.

It didn’t take long to realise that by neglecting to take opportunities to freely express my body and soul through writing, making art, adorning myself in things that made me feel good, dancing, yoga, and self-pleasure rituals; l’d closed off channels to my intuitive powers and my feminine essence.

I’d accepted that in the role of a Good Mother, there was now no space for any of the other facets of me.

Expression has undoubtably been the principle responsible for mobilising my intentions for personal evolution into inspired action.

Yet, there was one essential piece of the puzzle missing. One aspect that I hadn’t truly understood or appreciated until my younger sister died earlier this year.

Self-Devotion.

I now believe unequivocally, that without taking the leap into absolute devotion, we’ll remain smothered by unhealthy relationship dynamics, ingrained behavioural patterns, triggers, wounds, systems and structures that suppress our potential.

We’ll continue to let fear dominate and toxic cycles repeat.

It’s no surprise to me however, that in my quest to challenge the culturally and socially prescribed idea of the Good Mother, to honour the principle of self-devotion was the most radical commitment of them all.

So far, in my teachings of the un-smothering process, this principle is the one that women struggle with the most. The confusion that self-devotion means “self-indulgence” or “selfishness” sends them into a spiral of guilt and fear.

It’s almost as if they consider the legitimacy of the principles one by one, rationalising:

It’s fine to un-learn because that’s an intellectual pursuit. Mindset is trendy, right?

It’s fine to claim ownership because it sounds like something a “strong woman” would do, and that sounds like something to aspire to.

And it’s fine to play with the idea of expression (although this is where many start to feel uneasy) because “sounds like it could be fun – bit of novelty”.

But self-devotion?

Self-devotion just feels far too uncomfortable. Like a woman might actually have to put herself first, by choice.

If this idea sends you straight to uneasy or even cynical territory – let me tell you – I’ve been there. As someone indoctrinated by the lies of the Good Mother, it WAS fucking uncomfortable when I began to put myself first.

If it was just a case of popping on a flower crown and lighting a candle on the new moon, I’m sure it would feel far less threatening, but to actually CHOOSE unapologetic self-devotion is a defining and rebellious act for most women.

It means standing for and CLAIMING your own needs and desires rather than resigning yourself to whatever is left.

It means using your voice when you normally stay quiet.

It means establishing boundaries where you normally appease others.

It means implementing practices and ways of being that open you to your pain, pleasure AND power, when you’re used to running on autopilot and numbing out.

It means becoming intimate with your intuitive intelligence and innate potential, when you’re used to the reaping the payoffs of playing small and staying invisible.

Choosing self-devotion means there is no more hiding from your brilliance.

And that is fucking terrifying.

Un-smothering ourselves from that which is no longer our truth is for the courageous.

I believe it is nothing short of courageous to inhabit the fullest expression of ourselves, and own our sacred purpose.

In my experience of un-smothering from the label of the Good Mother, it has most definitely been a heroine’s journey of epic proportions.

Again and again, I’ve met my wounds. I’ve held them, thanked them, and proceeded to unlearn, own, and express them, scaffolded by unwavering devotion to me and my emerging truths.

The un-smothering process is a resource I turn to daily. It helps me make sense of my inner landscape and supports me to have compassion for others on their own journey, wherever they may be.

I’d love to hear how this process and the principles land for you. If you’d like to witness them in action in a safe space where Feminine Rebels come together to know themselves more meaningfully, join me at the very first Embodied Shake-Up Session this Thursday 1st August.

My beautiful peer Siobhan Barnes, a fellow Feminine Embodiment Coach and I will be facilitating a 90min online experiential workshop titled “Awakening the Sacred Purpose of the Rebel Woman”.

Not only will we be exploring these principles in relation to “finding purpose”, but most importantly we’ll be guiding participants through embodiment processes to anchor into their true expression of purpose so they can walk away with clarity and next steps.

For more details and to purchase your ticket, please head HERE.

Look out for the remaining 3 Embodied Shake-Up Sessions over the course of the next few months, by signing up to join the Diamond Women Community here.

If you’re a REAL goer and would like to chat to me about working with the Feminine Rebellion framework and the un-smothering principles more deeply 1:1, schedule a free chat with me here.

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