Resilience Redefined: All Mothers Deserve to Thrive


Resilience – simply defined – is the ability to respond & adapt to the events of life. It is our ability to stay up when life tries to knock us down & when knocked down allows us to efficiently & fully recover.

Too often in our culture, individuals are recognized for their resilience in the face of challenge or trauma, without being offered the resources needed for maintaining that resilience & nourishing it even further.

Are they resilient? Absolutely – they have HAD to respond & adapt to the events of life to survive. And yes, that deserves recognition, even celebration.

It is also short-sighted.

When we witness the resilience of others, how often do we explore whether their response to the situation
supported vitality & health or depleted them?

Was the adaption to the experience supportive of thriving or was it completely automated & purely for survival?

Have they had the opportunity & been offered the resources for efficiently & fully recovering?

We also live in a culture where people – especially those who are marginalized & oppressed – encounter challenge after challenge, trauma after trauma every day. And for many, experiences that demand resilience are depleting. Their nervous systems are adapting purely for survival & without adequate opportunity & resources for efficient & full recovery, before being faced with the next challenge.

In these situations, while often feeling exhausted & depleted, hearing someone say “wow, you’re so resilient”, can feel excruciating, frustrating, infuriating, dismissive & disconnecting. There has been an assumption that just because someone has survived an experience, there’s nothing else they need – no space for what the individual is actually feeling or opportunity to offer support & access to resources.

As humans we have a beautiful & inherent capacity to be resilient, but it’s not a bucket that we can keep dipping from, without replenishing. When we do, chronic stress & depletion contribute to dysfunction in the body & a whole host of illnesses.

We need the support for engaging in practices that cultivate resilience – continuing to fill that bucket, ensuring there’s resources available when faced with the next challenge & maintaining health.

And we need a compassionate & caring community to do that within.

I most often speak of resilience in the frame of the transition to motherhood – life transitions of all types rely greatly on our resilience.

Mothering resilience for survival is…

…any (often automated) response & adaptation to the events of life, within the context of mothering

…activation of the appease/fight/flight/freeze stress response in the nervous system

…occurring in the absence of adequate time, support & resources for full recovery

…depleting, intense, exhausting, unsustainable

It might look something like this:

After hoping for an intervention free labour & birth, a mama welcomes her new little one via emergency Cesarean. She’s feeling incredibly disappointed, grieving the birth she’d intended & uncertain whether she can trust herself & her body to care for her baby.

Well intentioned postpartum visitors say things like “Everything’s going to be fine. At least baby is healthy.”, so Mama puts on a ‘brave face’. Her stress response shows appease on the surface in an attempt to maintain connection with her loved ones – they see resilience & assume everything is fine. Deep down there’s an intense fight/flight response underway triggering anxiety & worry.

She’s able to keep going through her transition to mothering, but everyday she finds herself scrolling online resources, searching for the answers she needs, attempting to calm the uncertainty. Week by week, there’s more depletion & more exhaustion.

Cultivating thriving mothering resilience is…

…feeling grounded & centered, connected with the Earth & with Inner Wisdom & able to respond & adapt to the unexpected, unpredictable & uncertain.

…feeling nourished by nutrition, breath, rest, movement & Nature – supporting strength, energy & vitality to be fully engaged with the experiences of life.

…understanding & embodying the experience of a regulated nervous system with the capacity to experience deep calm & relaxation & to healthfully respond to all life brings – the joyous & the challenging.

…being connected with, supported by & cared for within a diverse & inclusive community – a community that holds & nurtures you, so you can continue holding & nurturing your family in your most aligned way.

The story above now looks like this:

After hoping for an intervention free labour & birth, a mama welcomes her new little one via emergency Cesarean. She’s feeling incredibly disappointed, grieving the birth she’d intended & uncertain whether she can trust herself & her body to care for her baby.

Using the grounding & centering practices she cultivated during pregnancy, she reconnects with the Earth, with Nature & with her Inner Wisdom. This creates space for the grief & she’s deeply reminded that she can trust all of the wisdom she contains as she navigates early mothering.

And, when she forgets these truths or the practices that support her, she has a community of mothers to hold her.

Postpartum visitors bring nourishing meals, tidy the kitchen, do a load of laundry & listen attentively & lovingly to her story. They ask her things like “How’s your heart today? What do you need today, Mama?”

She feels heard, validated & supported. She feels connected & calm.

She feels resilient.

See how it’s not just about getting through?

There’s beautiful wisdom in our body & nervous system’s abilities to ensure survival but over time, without intentional & well supported nourishment, connection & recovery, the result is more & more depletion – and fewer resources for health.

I’m on a mission to support all mothers in accessing the tools & community for thriving resilience. I believe that when mothers thrive, families thrive. And, when families thrive, communities thrive. Are you in?

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