Connection always matters and motherhood is no exception. Gathering together to share, support and create can be a incredibly bonding and therapeutic experience. The scene of women gathered together over crafts is an ancient one. Women coming together and sharing crafts transcends time, class and culture, a craft is something that can be passed down through generations of women, creating a deep connection through time. The ritual act of coming together in a circle of women for craft is powerful and having an intention such as creating gives everyone a joint purpose, a security and a root or sense of groundedness. Years ago this gathering in the community of women would be the perfect space to share, to ask for and to give advice, to air grievances, or to generally just connect and vent if they needed to. If a woman was struggling in her life or in motherhood in any way then she would be unlikely to go unnoticed and could tap into the web of support from her community. Though this image may seem like an ancient memory for us today this is what some cultures still experience, usually for wares to sell or as a part of daily life such as canning or daily chores in the Amish communities, a productive and social coming together of women.
Historically thanks to a male dominated society for a long time women's art was confined to traditional craft or ‘domestic art’, it was anonymous, made by the every woman or many women, which created a beautiful secret language among them in many ways.
A perfect example of this is woven into the history of quilting. Made by the hands of many unknown women, the quilt makers created an abstract language all of their own. Flowers, shapes and colours all held significance, I can imagine this would have created a bond between the women of the communities that created them, something that belonged to just them.
One example of the power of crafting together today is In Pasadena, a women's refuge has recently revived this colonial pastime of quilting to help build a supportive community and to bring the women together. Project co coordinator Linda shared that she chose quilting because ‘sewing is creative and utilitarian. It’s a traditional way for women to come together and talk about stories and memories’. They each sign and contribute to a journal, one woman wrote;
“You can feel the warmth of it. It’s a particularly symbolic thing to create something and tie it together,”
Today science backs up that deep feeling and knowing that crafting is good for the brain,studies have shown that it’s linked with the release of dopamine, it encourages neural pathways in our brains, reduces anxiety and cultivates connection. The social support and positive relationships and feelings created while crafting in a group are so very valuable. I urge you to cast aside the notion that you have to be ‘good’ at art to enjoy creating it and reject the assumption that you aren’t in any way creative. We are all creative beings at heart, especially during pregnancy and into motherhood, the time that a woman is the ultimate creatrix is the perfect time for creativity, aside from the awakening and opening that she is experiencing something quite special is happening in her body. The flood of neurochemicals such as Oxycontin, endorphins, adrenaline and relaxin make a woman more dreamy and open to creativity, not just for months but for years!
Another interesting fact is that during pregnancy and the postnatal season the altered sleep, dream and wake patterns of a woman result in brain waves that are closely associated with creativity. Repeated research has shown that the added blood flow to the vagina and uterus (our creative centre) during pregnancy and postnatal period has shown to activate the corresponding parts of the brain connected to creativity, aren’t women just amazing! So my point is you are creative even if you feel that you aren’t, accept the creative renaissance of motherhood! Ref - The rainbow way, Lucy H Pearce
Motherhood while being an amazing and transformative season can also become a very lonely time filled with anxiety and intense emotion. The reality for mothers today can feel quite an isolated one, programmed to feel she has to ‘bounce back’ and merely get through it. In what can feel like an existence of endless giving a mother can quite easily burn out, lacking in balance, satisfaction and connection. It shouldn’t be and doesn’t have to be like this, mothers need other mothers. They may seem so different the mothers around you, the mothers you assume have it all together, the mothers you assume belong to a different ‘tribe’ but underneath it all we are made of the same magic and we all have something to offer one another.
When women gather in circle to craft and connect with each other I always witness a deep remembering taking place. Something ancient, bonding, meaningful and natural, that feeling of the ‘village’ that all mothers need and crave is created consciously or unconsciously, it just happens so naturally.
Creating and experiencing art is an anchor and an instrument of a nurtured heart. It’s an affirmation in a world of many distractions, it’s a refuge and a feeding of spirit. Creating expresses, communicates, encourages and has meaning. It can say so much and bring a group together with no need for words if you don’t wish to speak them. Art has the potential to open not just the heart of the creator but also the hearts around her. In the creating space there is no need for data, measurements, weighing and percentiles. It’s a space to simply be, creating in a group reminds you that you are not an island, it makes connection irresistible and brings you back to that most natural creative and loving state.
In more ways than one, women talk in circles: Conversation takes a spiral shape in it’s subjective exploration of every subject. Listening, witnessing, role modelling, reacting, deepening, mirroring, laughing, crying, grieving, drawing upon experience, and sharing wisdom of experience, women in circles support each other and discover themselves through talk.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, The millionth circle
Bottom line is this and I believe and know it with all my heart, connection matters, we need it, in motherhood arguably more than ever. The term well being is thrown around a lot but I believe that the simple act of gathering together over a craft is good for a mother’s (or anyone's) well being. Quite often the energy required for motherhood is exhausting, a gentle craft shared with other women requires very little energy, it’s a restful and restorative way to spend your time. It’s easier to open up in a safe creative space such as this and it creates a gift you give yourself. Like I said before Creating, sharing and experiencing art is an anchor. No mother is an island.
This is why I have created Mothercraft, a fortnightly motherhood sharing circle with seasonal arts and crafts. I warmly invite mothers to come together to share, connect and create in a fun, held and loving space where every mother is welcome.
Connect with me on instagram @doulagemma and join our growing group on facebook positive motherhood tribe to look out for upcoming mothercraft circles and to connect and share. Let’s create!