Mothers' Liberation

I want to tell you about the Mothers' Liberation Workshop led by Alison Ehara-Brown on October 15-17, 1993.

FRIDAY EVENING 

Being a mother is one of the most liberating experiences we can have. Re-evaluation Counseling is a tremendous resource for us to use as we go about this task. We are raising the next generation without much praise, preparation, pay, or acknowledgment. The oppression we experience as mothers makes a joyful job hard to do. This is where RC assists us. We also need to work on our oppression as young people to help us think more rationally in areas where it gets hard with our children.

We want to give our children the best, and we often end up feeling like we need to sacrifice our needs all the time. It feels like there is a conflict between our children's needs and our own -- not true. Having our needs met will allow us to do a better job of meeting our children's needs.

"No Limits For Mothers" -- What would that look like?

This weekend -- work on getting rested, discharge, eat well, and enjoy!

The mothers of color were given a chance to share what it was like for them to be at the workshop so the rest of us could think well about them throughout the weekend.

SATURDAY MORNING 

Growing up female in our society -- it is preparation for motherhood. The message we are given is that we are here to do the nurturing, the emotional work, the cleaning and taking care of, instead of that we can use our whole bodies to do whatever it is that we want. The messages about our intelligence, our thinking, our abilities to build bridges, lifting, being physical are that we aren't good at any of it.

The process of changing from girl to woman is frequently confusing. Motherhood is glorified, yet as young girls, growing breasts is awkward, having menstrual periods is "gross," etc. Often our fathers pulled away from us as we developed physically because they didn't know how to deal with it, and we saw that becoming women brought with it a sense of isolation.

As baby girls there was a frozen hope put on to us by our mothers that we would help with the work. The expectations are that we can't rest, that we will be there in every realm. Our moms tried so hard to be there for us in every way that they weren't there for us at all. This frozen need about getting help is passed on to us, and we run it at our partners, then our children, and the cycle continues.

Part of the reason we give up the hope of ever getting help is because of the myths of independence we see in the U.S. culture: six weeks maternity leave for women (and virtually none for fathers), children learning to comfort themselves, the push to be a self-made person, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. The pioneers and our ancestors are portrayed as struggling alone when in fact there was a lot of interdependence among families and neighbors. We need to realize that the pressure to do it alone is based on lies and misinformation.

In order for our lives to work well and for our children's lives to work well we need to insist on getting help. We need adequate rest, exercise, nutrition, two sessions a week (the first clears the dust from the week, the second to work on the deep early distress).

Suggestions for working on this included asking, "What happened back then that causes me to feel that I can't even ask for help?" and when we do ask for help, "What keeps me from getting the help I need?".

Discharge and taking care of yourself is a core piece of mothers' liberation.

Some statistics shared: Women are 51% of the world's population, do two-thirds of the world's work (not including parenting), receive 10% of the world's income, and own less than 1% of the world's property.

SATURDAY EVENING 

  • We need men as allies for our children.
  • We need men to co-parent with us so we can take care of ourselves.
  • We get stuck doing the majority of the work of parenting. This needs to change for both men's and women's liberation.

What happens to men growing up (how they get hurt):

The societal messages start early. It's not okay to be close, to have feelings other than anger, to cry, to show you care. If you do you will be ridiculed which leads to more isolation and loneliness. You can't be close with other boys, you can be close with girls through sex (the only acceptable way to be intimate).

One way for men to deal with loneliness is to earn money and spend it. Also, involvement in pornography and sex -- men are trying to break through the numbness and maintain the hope of ever feeling alive.

Boys grow up with the possibility of being legally forced to kill. Also, they see the model of men working really hard to provide for their families. The message is that men's lives are expendable -- they can go off to die in war, they can work themselves to death.

Boys get the message that taking care of babies is not something they are good at. Women get the message that we are good at it so we have more slack for it and can keep thinking and do the job better. This makes it hard for mothers to let the men in and do the job of parenting because we have an arena where we are able to shine.

For men, paying attention to young ones brings up lots of feelings of intense boredom ("I don't know what to do"). Boys being cut off from their feelings and the opportunity to discharge is responsible for this. Girls don't get cut off so much in this way so as women they have more attention. For many fathers it goes better when children get older and are more playful and physical.

We need to welcome men as primary parents and insist on it. Women need to let go and step back from being completely responsible for the children. It may mean the dirty diaper is on longer than we would like, it may mean they don't eat as well, it may mean they are cut off from discharging -- but we need to let children and fathers build their own relationships.

Sexism in the world is a huge hurt to both little boys and little girls. We need to bring our children in as allies in this area, tell them how we've been hurt in this way and now we're trying to overcome it and deal with it in the world. An example was given where a mother had been playing catch with her son. When his friends came over he didn't need her around anymore, and this brought up feelings from her childhood of being excluded from baseball by her brothers. When she shared this with her son and he saw how she had been hurt in this way, he gladly welcomed her in to participate.

SUNDAY MORNING 

Alison did three demonstrations focusing on three different areas. The first demonstration used the Reality Agreement and looked at the truth about ourselves and our goodness. The second demonstration had the client looking back at her hopes and dreams. (In sessions we need to look back and ask, "When we were little, what were our hopes and dreams? As a teenager, what were they? What do we want now?") In the last demonstration the client worked on her feelings around going home to what lay ahead.

As mothers we need to value and appreciate ourselves and the work we are doing. It is our "birthright" to be thought about well and to have our needs met. We need to go after this without feeling guilty, so that our lives and the lives of everyone around us will work better.

Yvonne Johnson
Somis, California, USA

 


Last modified: 2015-07-21 10:04:18-07