The seed I want to tend and grow this spring is a healthier menstrual culture for us all.
Through winter rest, I clarified my vision for a world where working menstruators are rewarded for their super productivity through their fertile phase by getting paid time off while they bleed. I want to work big on this ~ policy level perhaps.
One way I’m tending the soil of my vision is continued, steady work on my online course about the menstrual cycle. The course is perhaps 80% done and covers a larger menstrual education ground than I’d imagined. It teaches how to track, chart and work with our cycle as a self/health awareness practice as well as how to achieve and prevent pregnancy naturally.
I’ve created over 50 video learning resources so far including specific information for those transitioning off hormonal contraception, those returning to their cycle after birth and those navigating the labyrinth of peri-menopause.
I thought the course would be finished in September last year, then now, and now I have no idea when it will be ready. It turns out I have a lot to share and it’s more involved than I thought. And then there’s the whole not burning out in patriarchal motherhood that is significantly slowing the process.
The short story is that I’ve chosen to let go of my course deadline so I can look after myself and enjoy the process. These visions and seeds of ours ~ as with conception, pregnancy and birth ~ appear, grow and come into being in their own mysterious time.
I’ve worked part time as a self employed mother for a full year now. It’s been a jarring education in the many demands (from out there and in me) that make mothering whilst working in this culture incredibly hard.
It’s felt like being in a patriarchal pressure cooker. The things that might have stopped me being well as a working menstruator are intensified and amplified as a menstruating working mother.
My findings are conclusive; motherhood is feminism’s unfinished business.
In trying to create the course over the last 8 months, I’ve been forced again and again to get realistic about how much I can achieve whilst also being mama and being well enough to offer my 1:1 work with integrity (being well myself).
End of last year, with rising costs of living, our childcare costs also rose unexpectedly. The impact it had on my work life was huge and resulted in me ‘experimenting’ by pushing myself harder to earn enough to be eligible for tax free childcare.
I told myself I could and should work more. I told myself that everyone else does it so why can’t I?
This is the voice of patriarchy long internalised through decades of power-over conditioning. Conditioning that has taught me (and us all) to ignore my wellbeing and my cyclical body. This period of pressure end of last year led to me allowing my inner patriarch to take the wheel. Fast forward to the Christmas holidays, add in some rare childcare from grandparents, and I collapsed in bed with exhaustion for days. I realised I was on my way to burning out.
It’s hard to admit this here because not perpetuating harm through my working practices is one of the guiding principles of my business.
It is very important to me that I support others from a resourced place in myself. This last year taught me how easy it is to push ourselves too hard. And the reasons we burn out are more systemic than they are personal.
~ We live and participate in an economic system that values growth over care giving and happiness. Every day it encourages and rewards us for work ourselves, our bodies and this earth harder.
~ Our physiology (and menstrual cycle) evolved alongside community life. We are living through troubled, hyper-individualised times where the nervous system load on us is huge. For care givers and parents living in nuclear family set ups, the nervous system load is inhumane and physiologically traumatising.
~ This culture sends us the message as menstruators that we can do it all and have it all, all of the time. Ignoring the biological reality that we build up the energy it takes to create new life in our bodies 10-17 times a year and are bleeding for 10-18% of the year.
~ This culture sends mothers the message we can do and have it all despite the care load (a £ cost) of children; we are told we can/should be the perfect mum and can/should have the perfect career, relationship, friendships etc.
~ The childcare system in the UK is the 2nd most expensive in the world.
~ Eligibility for tax free childcare for self employed mothers is income assessed so those who choose to work part time, don’t earn enough to meet the threshold.
~ We are daughter’s of a patriarchal culture with decades of internal conditioning. No matter how much work we do on ourselves, there will be patriarchal stones yet to be unturned within. The unlearning load is real and leaves us susceptible to burn out whenever life demands more from us.
The systemic odds are stacked against working mothers; even more so for those with children under 3, even more so for those working part time, even more so for the self employed. Avoiding burn out takes acute self awareness, loving vigilant presence and big inner work (also helps if your children sleep at night).
Yet being aware of our menstrual cycle can help us stay well because it provides us with an innate pace for life that is unique to us. It brings us back to the rhythm we evolved to live and is our key to sustaining the resources we need to be well as a menstruator living in patriarchy.
Our cycle is our matriarchal compass to protect, regenerate and restore what is most precious to us – our health, our fertility and our ability to show up fully and meaningfully to our life.
Its important to share my experience with you because when you buy my products or invest in my services, I want you to know that you’re investing in someone making inner and tangible moves towards a more regenerative, matriarchal culture.
I want to be honest about how we are all living within the same structures that make it hard to be in matriarchal service and be well. I’m still learning, unlearning and figuring out how to be well as a working mother.
The first step in creating the more life-sustaining culture we know is possible is to see and name what causes us harm. The second step is to adjust our relationship with what causes harm and our level of participation with it.
These are the steps I’ve been making since my mini Christmas burn out.
My aim for my next working year is to continue to name the harm, continue to have brave conversations about it and do my best to make the changes I need to make to be well, thriving and receiving pleasure from what I do.
I care too much about myself, the children in my life, my clients and this world to do anything else.