Motherhood takes the stage!

From New York, to London, Milan and Paris, the most eye-catching theme on last season’s runways was The Mother. Various designers featured maternity friendly collections, beautiful clothes on pregnant models or paired them with children in mommy-and-me looks.

“We’re slowly but surely coming out of a really toxic zeitgeist around what motherhood and family is and isn’t.” Said Elena Velez, American fashion designer and artist.

At Cormio’s show, a Milan-based contemporary womenswear brand, a ringer T-shirt with an image of a mother duck and a duckling in a pond read: “Motherhood: The only place you can experience heaven and hell at the same time. Excuse the mess…the children are making memories.”

Dimitra Petsa, a greek designer making clothes for goddesses, says: “You don’t have to ‘lose yourself,’ or your eroticism when you create a family,” and she added “for me the idea of maternity is very expansive. We can be maternal in the love we give to others and to ourselves. I think there is an urge to reclaim and rewrite the idea and image of motherhood and to see it from the point of embodiment and physical connection.”

Chiara Ferragni, Italian influencer who, this February debuted as a presenter at The Sanremo Music Festival, the most popular Italian annual song contest and awards ceremony, took a stand on motherhood and more in general womanhood.

With some of her looks designed by Schiaparelli’s creative director Daniel Roseberry, called: “The Warrior Woman and Mother”, “The Masculine Femininity” and “The Human Rights’ dress”, Chiara Ferragni brought the woman, mother and warrior to the stage.

She explains the concepts herself saying: “Being women without having to be considered only as mothers. The female struggles against the guilt of wanting to reconcile everything. A strength that doesn’t need to imitate the male one to be considered equal. Many believe that women, if they want to be taken seriously in certain fields, need to take on male behaviors or need to dress like men to demonstrate leadership skills. Don’t give up your femininity because someone considers it a weakness, because women’s strength lies right there”.

A long black velvet dress adorned with a necklace shaped like a uterus and composed of different parts of the female body is the symbol of reproductive activism. It is a reminder that access to safe abortion and assisted reproduction are human rights.

“The Cage”, a beautiful look designed for Chiara and her daughter Vittoria by Christian Dior Couture’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri has, as its message for the new generation, freedom from restrictive gender stereotypes. It aspires to break the conventions imposed by the patriarchy, a deeply held desire for the young girls who will be the women of tomorrow. “This is a wish that a mum makes to her daughter” says Chiara “that she can finally shout out Vittoria”.

And most recently Rihanna at the Super Bowl, dressed in a powerful red, while performing her hits and promoting her company, announced her second pregnancy. "When you become a mum there is something that just happens where you feel like you can take on the world. You can do anything…it is important for representation, it is important for my son to see that".

In spite of how beautiful and positive this may look and sound, and notwithstanding the momentum that motherhood is gaining, it often feels like we still have a long way to go.

Mothers around the world still experience restrictions to positive working conditions. They are exposed to pay cuts, lost job opportunities, heavier housework, unequal emotional loads and judgment from all sides. We may feel like we are swimming in an ocean of unrealistic expectations when it comes to motherhood and working-mum life. It is likely that the majority of mothers in contemporary society are faced with the dilemma of losing the "self" and providing care for a new addition in their lives. As David Allen, an American productivity consultant best known for the creation of the time management method called "Getting Things Done", reminds us:  "You can do anything but not everything".

These are some of the internal battles that many mothers go through.  External events and society at large shape the way we see ourselves and impact on our choices. We often feel guilty when we simply try to take time out to care about our emotions or to simply breathe.

Conscious self-connection is perhaps the only way to navigate the dilemmas, changes and transitions into the new identity and role of motherhood. When you listen to your inner guidance and wisdom you find your own answers, your own way of mothering, your balance between commitments, your way of taking care of yourself while taking care of others. You make your choices free from external pressures and conditioning.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” says Mahatma Gandhi.

Holistic wellbeing practices such as the ones that are rooted in my offerings (reiki, yoga, meditation, breathwork, ayurveda and the cycles of nature) are powerful tools to help you move inward, deeply connect and truly listen to your Self so that you can stay true to your values, dreams and vision while navigating the motherhood journey.

But also small daily rituals and simple exercises such as writing a letter to connect with your Inner Child, like the one that Chiara Ferragni wrote to her baby girl and that she read at the Sanremo Festival, are beautiful ways to establish and nourish the connection with your inner Self.

Would you give it a try?

What would you tell your baby girl? What has happened to her fears and biggest dreams? Have you honored her needs? What blessings do you now see that were part of your childhood and you weren’t conscious of? What do you wish she knew about you now?

Give her a warm hug, a smile, tell her that you think of her, that you will continue to navigate this path of life close to her. Show her your love and care.

And if you would like to take a step forward you may like to try and write a second letter to your future Self. How do you want her to feel? What would you tell her? Give her advice: e.g. invest money in the stock market; don't worry so much about your children they will probably be fine; spend time with mum.

Ask yourself questions that make you reflect on what you’ll need to do to become who you want to be, while making the future you reflect on what you’ve done to reach that point. For example: Do you enjoy your job? How do you take care of your wellbeing? What do you do to relax?  Who is the most important person in your life? How is your relationship with your parents and the one with your children? How do they treat you and how do you treat them? If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

Seal the letter or use technology to send it to yourself at a time in the future. Don’t be tempted to read it before it is time. You can plan to read it after 1 or 10 years.

Exercises like these are powerful steps towards a beautiful transformational journey. “A journey of the self, through the self, to the self”. Bhagavad Gita. A journey of long lasting wellbeing and equanimity, a journey of encroachment of motherhood and womanhood into a still predominantly male world.

My wish is to witness a return of all mothers to their center, their inner Self, their intuition, creativity, kindness, stillness and strength. It is perhaps the most transformative and empowering force and energy that we as mothers can bring to the world and in so doing, driving a positive impact for the wellbeing of future mothers and generations to come.

Taking care of Your Self

We often identify the Self as something physical, something associated with our senses, emotions and thoughts, or body, mind and intellect.

Patanjali, Hindu author, mystic and philosopher, credited for the Yoga Sutras, one of the most ancient classical yoga texts, in Sutra II.6 speaks about the Kleshas or afflictions that cause suffering. He describes the Self as Asmita or false identification, sometimes also translated as ego.

False identification or ego manifests itself when we identify with the parts of us that change, rather than with the inner part that never changes. Our permanent essence. As Patanjali explains, the great challenge lies in the fact that, although it is easy and satisfying to appreciate and value the physical, intellectual qualities and identities that we build throughout life, if we identify with too much attachment to the changing aspects of ourselves, we are inexorably exposed to disappointment and suffering. If instead we connect and identify with the part of us that is permanent, we take better care of ourselves. A care that brings joy and contentment into our lives.

How do you then take care of yourself?

It is key to establish and cultivate the connection with the inner Self. In the world of Yoga some of the practices to nourish that connection are: asanas (physical positions), pranayama (breath regulation) and dhyana (meditation).

As a Holistic Wellbeing Consultant for mothers, it is my mission to help mothers, probably one of the categories that finds it most difficult to make time for self-care, to take care of the inner Self. That immutable and permanent Self that generates true wellbeing.

Matrescence, a word coined in the 1970s by medical anthropologist Dana Raphael describes the process of becoming a mother as similar to that of adolescence.

We change at a physical, psychological, social, and spiritual level. Our identity changes, be it the first or fifth time, the first or tenth year after giving birth. Research shows that a woman’s brain changes more quickly and more drastically during pregnancy and post-partum than at any other time in her life.

By establishing and maintaining a strong connection with your inner Self, motherhood can be truly transformational. And when a woman lives in radiance, calm, joy and good health, this is the world her children enter and in which they learn how to live. Mothers are influential leaders who provide the foundations for the wellbeing of future generations.