Reclaiming Our Feminine Energy As Mothers: Podcast Episode #174
Kristin chats with Dr. Laura from Mind Your Soul about supporting and reclaiming feminine energy in motherhood. Dr. Laura is the author of “You Are the Most Perfectly Perfect You.” You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.
Welcome. You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. Let’s chat!
Kristin: Hello, hello. This is Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I’m here today to chat with Dr. Laura. Dr. Laura owns Mind Your Soul, and she is a clinical psychologist who specializes in supporting women who feel they’ve lost their vibrancy within the transition of becoming a mother, which includes preconception and well into the motherhood journey. Clients that resonate with Dr. Laura’s approach are high achieving, open minded, curious explorers with a propensity towards holistic health and attachment style parenting. Welcome, Dr. Laura!
Dr. Laura: Hello! I’m so excited to be here!
Kristin: I’m so happy to chat with you! I know our focus today is going to be on supporting the feminine energy to be reclaimed, rediscovered, and unearthed. So as we get into that, I’d also like to touch on – for our listeners who aren’t familiar with attachment parenting, what that really entails as far as an approach.
Dr. Laura: Sure. So maybe we’ll start with the attachment parenting. Maybe that’s a little bit more tangible than this whole concept of feminine energy, which can get a little woo-woo, so we’ll try to keep it grounded and connected for everybody. So what I mean by attachment based perspective is really these concepts that we come in as human beings, and we have these two kind of opposing forces. One is that we really need to attach, right? We’re not going to survive if we don’t attach to another human. We’re not actually physically equipped to do so. And the other part is this drive to be autonomous. This idea comes from a Canadian physician, and I’ve kind of taken that and expanded it a little bit and really brought it into my own perspective is what I mean. I think the obvious of needing to be cared for when we’re an infant is pretty obvious. This other part of needing to have autonomy – you know, we all have basic needs, and so that’s really where the autonomy comes in, meaning this need to express ourselves, to feel like we matter, that we feel like we belong really unconditionally. I know that can be a very loaded word, unconditional, but really that we truly live within our tribe, and that’s not only meant for the immediate family nucleus but kind of that radiating out, that we belong, without any conditions. We don’t have to be a certain way or do a certain thing or perform in a way to be good girls or good little boys or any of those things. So that’s my perspective of attachment, needing those two things and allowing both of those two things to flourish simultaneously. And now because we’re human, they often don’t, right? And again, that’s said without any blame or any shame. You know, when we’re able to just look at something for what it is with that detachment, from my perspective, that’s where we can really thrive. That’s where we can grow. That’s where we can expand and say, what is this here to teach me. So I’ll pause there because I know there might be some questions or want to dialogue a little bit about what I just said.
Kristin: Yeah, I love your definition. So most people define attachment parenting as basically a crunchy mom who wears her babies and never – you know, feeds them immediately when they cry, doesn’t follow any schedule. So I love your definition.
Dr. Laura: Yeah, and to me, I think this actually weaves really well into, like, feminine energy, right? Which isn’t only reserved for female anatomy persons, but in this concept, to be attuned, you can do all of those things, right? You can have the no schedule; kind of attuned parenting is how I like to think of that. And sometimes, you know, specifically as mamas, we can get a little unbalanced in that. We can get – the side of the teeter totter can weigh heavily so, let’s say, attuned to our child’s needs that we forget about our own.
Kristin: So true. And depletion begins.
Dr. Laura: Absolutely. And that’s when that joy, that spark – and then, you know, eventually, it can over time kind of grow into this depression or resentment or shame like I’m not doing enough. It can manifest in a lot of other things other than feeling really radiant in how you’re showing up as a person. So when I say attachment, we kind of initially started it as starting with the parenting journey, but then that really transcends out really throughout our whole livelihood, right? How do we attach to people – colleagues, partners, children. How are we also mindful to being autonomous, and where do we get our needs met, and how are we showing up in our fullness and with our purpose?
Kristin: Exactly. Yes. And I feel like there’s so much focus on the baby after birth, and the mother or birthing person often gets forgotten.
Dr. Laura: And even I think sometimes in crunchy circles, there can be that – what is it, the 40-day sacred window? You know, there can be. I think there’s at least starting to be a slower movement to hold space for a period of time after a woman has given birth. And yet this is why I love in your intro of me where you said really motherhood throughout the journey because the hard stuff doesn’t just stop after 40 days, like on day 41, you’re like, oh, I’m so great now.
Kristin: We’re a mother forever, even when our children are adults.
Dr. Laura: Exactly. Exactly.
Kristin: Yeah, that is beautiful. And certainly, yes, mothering the mother and understanding a lot of the traditional cultures that do care for the mother while helping care for the baby and feed the mother and the importance of nutrition and, again, avoiding that depletion and the isolation that a lot of new moms feel.
Dr. Laura: Absolutely. And for the larger part, this is more of a cultural or specific to westernized societies, right? We’ve moved so far away from the concept of village. What you just mentioned where indigenous tribes would make sure that the mom wasn’t depleted, but also then somebody else was stepping in and taking care of a new mom; literally, the mom, but also the baby, right? So you had this built-in support network. And often, you know, we have to create that ourselves because it’s not, let’s say, innately in our surroundings anymore.
Kristin: Exactly. So when you get into working with clients on reclaiming that feminine energy, is it a bit about the differences between genders and how we respond as parents, or can you define more of what that process to work with you would be like?
Dr. Laura: Sure. And of course, you know, my first snippet is going to be of course it’s going to be unique, right, because we’re all unique. So my presence, though, or my perception is we all kind of come in, and aside from those kind of basic needs – we all have them – we also want to be, like, really seen and really heard, right? Regardless of man, woman, and identifying as anything else. So that’s really where I like to meet people at is, like, where are you – you know, because by the time you’ve reached me, you’ve identified something isn’t working, right? Like there’s some sort of tension, and that’s usually when we go to any kind of doctor or a dentist, right? Like, there seems to be a problem. And I really want to, like, take away that talking to any kind of mental health professional indicates that there’s a problem. I would say long before that, if anything, there’s already an imbalance, generally speaking, in our society, and so when you use any kind of counseling services or therapeutic services, my perspective is, like, that’s just good hygiene, right? You know, that’s like going to yoga or going to the gym or our diet.
Kristin: Get your oil changed.
Dr. Laura: Exactly, right? So that’s where I like to meet them. And then it’s like really holding space for, okay, what is needing to be seen? And it can be a rather – I don’t want to say slow like in the concept of time, but it’s an unfolding process, right? Because sometimes for some moms, by the time I – or just people, really; just any people, not even mothers – by the time they see me, they’re so ready to, like, put down the heavy karmic backpack that they’re carrying. It’s like the dam has broken and here we go. For others, it’s like a soft unlayering of, like, what’s in there; how did that get in there; oh, I didn’t even know that was in there. So it’s that unpacking and going moment by moment to what’s arising and then holding space and then coming back. I mean, it’s quite frankly a process.
Kristin: It is near the work of doulas. Again, you’re talking about holding space, being open, allowing them to really identify their own individual goals and journey and just supporting that without judgment, and it sounds like that is a lot of your process.
Dr. Laura: Absolutely. And I think it’s just like me; like, if I talk to you, you can see holes that I can’t see in myself, right? That’s kind of – but sometimes I can see them. Maybe I just needed a mirror to look, right? So it’s not about somebody being right, but it is just exactly like you said in your work as a doula or doula work, period. It’s holding space and that attuned listening. What is asking to be seen and heard right now?
Kristin: Exactly. So how did you get into this work, Dr. Laura? Was it your own motherhood journey? I mean, there’s so many paths you can take as a clinical psychologist.
Dr. Laura: Yes. I am the birth mama of two littles, and I’m a bonus parent to two adult kiddos, but before either of those situations happened, it was really obvious to me that my mom needed some support and didn’t feel like she had it, could ask for it, could get it. So I think it was really this – I always say that I became a psychologist because that’s my person who just happens to be that title. I’m so inquisitive and just curious of how things unfold in that way. And so that’s kind of my own upbringing, just seeing that women need more care and support. And it wasn’t anything that my mom did or didn’t do but just realizing how society, generally speaking, again, kind of treated women or maybe dismissed them or didn’t hold emotions. You were just supposed to get over it, or not being able to be angry. So that has – I mean, from an early age, that’s just colored my direction of where I wanted to go. And then I’ve worked with a lot of kiddos, and again, that really highlighted for me just kind of some disconnections between – like, the unbalance, really, between what we give to our kids and what we don’t give to ourselves, and it’s usually the mothers. Again, not always. And then it’s just kind of unfolded in lots of different ways.
Kristin: Right, yes. Beautiful.
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Kristin: So you’re also an author and speaker? You’ve brought a book into the world?
Dr. Laura: I did, and talk about – whoo. I am also a Virgo, and what I realize about myself through the book writing – I was self-published, and it’s called You’re The Most Perfectly Perfect You: Reclaiming Self-Love, and it’s intended to just be a kind of a short little – it is a short little book, but it’s really just intending to, like, hold some space and some love. It’s like this juicy little love bomb to you. But in that process, like, realizing some of my shadows came out. Or like this perfectionist, like, wanting to write it one time and be done, and then, you know, hiring an editor, and it’s like, uh, you might want to rethink this and this and this. And I realized even – I’m going to go back and then link this all together, but you asked, like, what brought me to this work, too. I think a big part of it is that when I step into this role, I’m also then holding myself, like, accountable, too. Like, to kind of continually – I don’t want to say evolve as, like, a narcissistic hierarchy, but as a way to, like, expand and to grow because I’m also aware of how I want to show up for clients. But then how am I showing up for me, right? Like, how am I doing this work in my own personal work, right? I don’t want to a person – it’s like walk the walk and talk the talk. So I know for me, that’s part of it. Like, offering these services also grounds me into that state of being. So I saw that come full circle in writing the book and how I would want to just give my power away, right? Like, okay, editor, you tell me what to write, as opposed to it being like a collaborative back and forth of, what am I trying to express here, and what is the best grammatical way for it to unfold. And yeah, so it was a very interesting process. A lot of growth.
Kristin: Sounds like it. Well, how – I feel like – okay. The full self-care is overused.
Dr. Laura: Oh, yes.
Kristin: And it’s troubling at times because people think, oh, if I go and – you know, get a manicure or go for a walk. But truly, like, I think you’re getting to more of the core in identifying who the self is, and we have so many roles as mothers, and that would be, you know, obviously, mother first and then partner and daughter to our parents and your role at work. And so really defining who you are as a core because I feel like really, I mean, we often get lost in that primary mother role.
Dr. Laura: Absolutely. Absolutely. Especially if we – you know, kind of how we started our talk, right, if we identify as that crunchy, attuned, attached parent doing all the things, making all the food, child-led learning aspects. We definitely can overemphasize with that, or at least I know I can. And I think as you’ve probably experienced, too, mothering has seasons, right? So there’s moments when maybe the child or your children need more priority. But that doesn’t meant that the mother is ever forgotten, right? And so in my work, it’s reminding women that. Because the longer that we forget about ourselves, then that tends to sort of snowball into other things.
Kristin: Exactly. No massage or manicure is going to make up for the isolation.
Dr. Laura: Absolutely. And what I always say about self-care, and I love that you said it’s so overused, because the concept of it isn’t wrong. It’s that it’s become so overused that we just schedule these things as if they’re another checkbox to complete, right, as opposed to go in with intentionality. So it’s not about eliminating the manicure or the bubble bath or massage or whatever it is that we’re doing. But bring attention. Like, why am I doing this? Right? So the manicure is because you want to go and have some chit chat with somebody and just, like, not think so hard about when your baby is going to next feed. Like, cool. Then just be really mindful that that is a little break for you to also reconnect and, like, connect with another adult, if that’s what it is for you, right? And maybe it’s like you feel really pretty and empowered when you have your nails done. Sorry that I’m stuck on manicures. It can be any one thing that we pick, right? It’s about just being really intentional with how we’re spending our time, period. Like, why are we doing what we do ever?
Kristin: Yeah. And then how does the – as you get into, again, that self-care, but really getting into conscious parenting, partnering, and involving the partner in this journey to reclaiming and supporting feminine energy? Because I know in your definition, again, you had mentioned it’s not gender-related, but how does the partner – how is their involvement in this process?
Dr. Laura: Yeah. So again, if you think of – or how I perceive things is the yin and yang, right? The whiteness and the darkness, but together, that is sort of the completeness. Now, to any kind of single parenting people out there, that’s not to say that you need a partner to make yourself complete. That’s not what I’m talking about. Not what I’m talking about. But this idea that – for me, it’s this felt being that we all come in with some energy force, right? And, like, where is our complement? That’s all I mean by, like, the feminine energy and a partner, which could be an actual partner. It could be kind of like a surrogate partner. It could be a greater, like, community of network partners, right? So it’s how do you recognize where your strengths are, and then what kind of – what energy balance is that, to feel like it’s more full and rounded? Does that make sense?
Kristin: It does.
Dr. Laura: It was a little woo-woo, but you got it?
Kristin: I got it. Yeah, that’s very helpful. Obviously, again, you mentioned the birthing persons without a partner and really asking for support. I know that can be tricky to navigate, or if their partner travels and is gone and they’re feeling isolated, I’m sure this is a big topic for your clients about, you know, communicating their individual needs and having hesitation in asking for help because I think in our society, we’re expected to be super women.
Dr. Laura: Absolutely, right? Bounce back and just good to go. Or take your 40 days and you’re fine, right? So obviously, you know, we’re kind of combatting, let’s say, cultural expectations or cultural norms that are – I say norms, but they’re norms because that’s what happens. It doesn’t mean that they’re self-sustaining, right? So yeah, it is about knowing what your needs are and how to communicate what you need because we can get really good at, like, you know, kind of blaming, right? Like, you’re gone all the time, and you don’t even know what I need. And then it’s like the other person; what did you do? It’s like a guilt trip, right? So now you just made the other person feel bad for leaving because that’s just the way that they’re sustaining your family at the moment or whatever. So part of it is accepting what is and then really advocating for what you need. Now, sometimes we’re going to get that. When we can get even clear and say, like, I need help. It’s a collaborative effort to find some live-in help, or you get into a group around the corner that you feel that you have help. But sometimes it’s not possible, right? Sometimes it’s like, oh, I can’t afford that. I live in a rural area; that’s not going to happen. Or I just can’t even have the energy to search for this, right? So sometimes, again, it’s about asking or identifying your needs without the expectation that they’re going to be met in a way that you think they’re going to get met, right? This goes back to my concept of being seen and heard. A lot of times, mothers or feminine embodiments just need to know that they’re heard.
Kristin: Yes. We don’t need to have things fixed; we just want to be heard. Yeah.
Dr. Laura: And that also goes back to the communication because the masculine energy is all about problem solving. It’s all about, like, gripping into the now, and how do I make this work, which is a beautiful energy, and it’s so needed. And sometimes, that’s where the miscommunication of the feminine – you’re saying, oh, you’re gone all the time for work, and then it’s the problem solving of, like, fixing it. But really, it’s just saying, like, I miss this, right? Like, I really wanted to parent more with you, or I feel like you’re missing it. Right? So you see how those are two different things of what you’re asking for.
Kristin: Yes, completely different, and asking to have your needs met in a different way; they’re able to understand, like, hey, wouldn’t it be nice if we spent some time when baby’s resting. Yes.
Dr. Laura: Exactly. So a lot of it is the communication, but it’s kind of this spider web untangling of what it is we even need. What is it that –
Kristin: There’s so many layers.
Dr. Laura: So many layers. And, you know, specifically for women, we’ve been really taught to sort of be – again, this is generally sweeping stereotypical in western society, right, is to be people pleasers and to not really rock the boat. So I know what I’m saying sounds really easy, but it’s often incredibly hard to ask directly for what we need because for some of us, to some degree, we’ve been so far removed from even knowing what it is that we really need that we can’t effectively communicate in that way.
Kristin: Yes. So true. So what are your top tips when you are again in the thick of it and feeling overwhelmed, to bring that joy and wonder into those early parenting days?
Dr. Laura: Right? So how I view it is always coming back to breath. So, like, when we’ve gone off – we’ve gotten onto the hamster wheel, and we eventually stop it and we realize that it’s spiraled a little bit out of – we’ve spiraled out of control. To whatever extent, we realize that, right, whether we’ve kind of thrown the full-blown tantrum or we’re catching up before, to breathe. Take a breath. Get centered. And this is science. When we take a breath or when we sigh, that actually is regulating our whole nervous system because usually when we get – and I’m sure you probably know this as a doula, right? Like, in the birthing process, if you’re anxious, your body is not going to open. So it’s the same. It’s just not, or it’s going to be harder to. I mean, the baby’s coming either way. But same with kind of big emotions. When we’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious or whatever it is that we’re feeling that’s not joy, that’s not open and relaxed – breathe. Because somehow, we’ve given our nervous system the signals that we’re unsafe, and so everything gets tight. And so everything is already, like, ready to conserve, either to fight or run, to flee, or it’s going to shut down. And so that’s great for a survival mechanism, but that’s not the best place to problem solve or to really, like, be present, right, because our body has an agenda to keep us safe. So when we breathe and take a few deep breaths, we are literally giving our nervous system and our whole internal organs the cues like, okay, this is not life threatening. I can at least put those systems offline right now. Like, I don’t need to worry about my survival. Now I can just be here. Like, now what is my next – what can I do next after this?
Kristin: Wonderful advice. Any other tips for our listeners as they’re navigating new parenting?
Dr. Laura: I love mirror work, and I think sometimes it’s like, ugh, I don’t want to do that. But looking in the mirror as many times as you can. Usually, most of us are in front of the mirror brushing our teeth or combing our hair somewhere. And make some simple “I am” statements. And again, this isn’t like, again, that self-care, like checking off, but that we are really looking at ourselves, and we are saying whatever it is that we feel that day. Like, I am beautiful. I am doing the best I know how today. I am feeling loved by – and then whatever. I am a creative person. I’m a kind person. I am reacting calmly today. Whatever we want to say, right?
Kristin: Yes, applying it to yourself and your emotions versus reading a standard affirmation.
Dr. Laura: Absolutely, right? There’s no wrong way.
Kristin: That’s beautiful. So how can our listeners connect with you? I know you’re on social media. You’ve got your website, your book. And they can also work with you remotely or in person.
Dr. Laura: Absolutely, yes. I presume you will have all those links, but yeah, I’m on Instagram and my website, and yeah. I’m around. Reach out.
Kristin: Sounds good. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Laura! It was lovely to chat with you, and I hope you have a beautiful day.
Dr. Laura: Same to you!
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