by Alison Moir, UK
I have been attending Esoteric Developers Women’s Group over the last couple of years; this has been so supportive. It has been amazing to see how everyone attending has expanded their awareness of what it means to be a woman.
From a young age I never really accepted myself as a woman, partly because as a teenager I never got tall, my breasts never really grew and I didn’t look like the other girls at school, so I brushed aside the fact that I was a woman and avoided womanly things. Buying dresses was always a problem, as I couldn’t fill them in all the right places.
So at a recent meeting when we began to discuss nurturing, what it meant to us as women, and how we could bring it into our lives, I must admit I wobbled a bit – did I really know what it meant to nurture as a woman?
I have noticed that the word to nurture is not used very often. We seem to have kept it reserved for mothers with babies, or if we are sick.
As women, most of us have not been taught to nurture. We learn from an early age that our husband, our children, our family come first, so looking after ourselves comes way down the list of things to do.
Before these meetings we all had our own view of what nurturing was, and what level we were willing to go to look after ourselves.
In the discussion a few women told us what they once did as their way of ‘nurturing’.
For some of them it was about looking good – they took pampering to the extreme. They would have a list of things to do that would take all day to make sure they looked good. The thing about this was that whatever they did, it was never enough. If it didn’t get the response from others they were hoping for, that somehow they had failed.
Someone else shared that if they had a bad day or week or felt off, they would become more disciplined and take on a hardened focus. They used their body as an extreme marker of fitness. They would go to the gym or become more disciplined about what they ate, even fasting, until they felt better.
It is very easy to get fixed views of what nurturing is. It can become a regime, something we must do.
We have this picture of how we would like to be. We then look outside ourselves to compare, and when we see others doing things in a certain way, rather than stopping and seeing if that is true for us, we try to make it part of our life. We then struggle to maintain this as something we need to do, rather than what would really be true for us.
What if nurturing was part of our everyday living, something we naturally know?
What if waking up early was nurturing, so that we didn’t need to rush for work or to get the kids to school?
Taking a bath to enjoy you, and not because you are exhausted or your muscles ache or because you spent too long in the gym.
What if it was about making space in the day? It is you in the moment listening to your body.
What if gently putting on your face cream was something you did to feel the lovely texture of your skin, to feel the beauty within you and not to cover the wrinkles or hide the tiredness you might be feeling.
What if nurturing isn’t a doing but a loving way of being with ourselves?
I know that as soon as I go into the doing everything seems to get faster, there is never enough time, and I become anxious to try and fit everything in.
Nowadays, so much focus in magazines, in newspapers, at school, at work, is all about looking outside ourselves, encouraging us to compare ourselves with others.
From young we are not given the space or encouragement to feel what is true for us, instead we are shown what somebody thinks is ‘best’ for us, not what is really true for us.
As women we are all natural nurturers: I am just beginning to see this in myself. When I allow this natural feeling to come out, how I touch things, how I massage cream onto my face, how I pick up things, all become so much more loving towards myself.
I am learning there is no longer an urgency to get things done, and accept that there is a natural space in my day for everything.
By being gentle with ourselves and listening to the natural rhythms of our bodies we can begin to feel what will really nurture and support us while we are at work, out with friends or at home with the family.