The Wild Mother Manifesto: Living the Creative Soul-Seeker Mothering Path.
Since my son Jude arrived in my life nine years ago, I’ve been on a search for mother mentors — women who could show me the way on this path of crippling uncertainty, heart-cracking joy and constantly being stretched.
Women who, as well as being life-givers and nurturers, have a solid core of connection to their own, individual selves. Who are in touch with their wildness, and have not forgotten the call of the creative, the soft underlying hum of the soul, the deep pull of the dream life. Women who make space and time to breathe life into their own beings as well as into their children. Wild Mothers.
I looked for them in stuffy, noisy cafes, in freezing cold playgrounds, toy-strewn living rooms, echoing church halls, and eventually at the school gates. I made do with what I had: the weekly asylum of the breastfeeding drop-in, which I reached by a steep 45-minute buggy-laden uphill trek.
Sitting in a circle with other mothers and frequently knocked over cups of tea, I found a hole in the fabric of my sleep-deprived isolation. I met some kindred spirits there, but it took a long time before our conversations revealed whether we liked running, painting, or writing; before we shared what we believed about life. Sometimes, it never happened.
My hunger simply wasn’t satisfied by mum-and-baby groups where all the discussions revolved around teething crises and endless feeding.
It was only after a few years — perhaps because, having begun my own path of anchoring more fully into my expression, I was then able to see them — that I began to meet the Wild Mothers I longed for. Mothers who were vibrant, powerful, and unapologetically committed to their paths as creative soul-seekers.
Women who hadn’t been tamed into someone else’s idea of how to do motherhood and family life, giving themselves only crumbs of sustenance along the way. These Wild Mothers embrace the messiness of motherhood, and aren’t on a mission to get it all perfect or to do it anyone else’s way. They are warriors. And this doesn’t mean they’re invincible or never have a moment of self-doubt.
It’s not that they don’t get tired or overwhelmed or furious. The landscape of Wild Motherhood is vast, and there’s room for all of who we are.
Talking to these women about their experiences, and more fully examining my own, revealed a path between our initiation into motherhood and fully living our own self-realization. Motherhood can make us bolder; causing us to leap into the unknown and explore new creative expressions, giving us a precious new realization of how valuable our time is, and turning frustration into productivity.
It can tune us in to our inner compass as we learn to listen in a whole new way. Motherhood can truly be the doorway into embodying our wild creative feminine nature on a level never experienced before.
I have become convinced that we can all cultivate these qualities of wildness that lie dormant within us: no matter how arid things seem, no matter how impossible it seems to find a spark of inspiration in a day of duties and laundry.
And so, here is the Wild Mother Manifesto.
As Wild Mothers, we…
… make space for our playful, creative impulses
We recognize that wildness is our natural state, and that we have it in us from birth. But our urges to be playful and expressive have often been sucked dry by duty, shoulds, and inner critics who ruthlessly tell us that we’re just not good enough, that we should be doing something else instead, and constantly compare our insides to everyone else’s outsides.
Recognizing the natural wildness within is about embracing our playful, creative impulses and looking for those gaps, however tiny. It’s about actively creating those spaces to be juicy or succulent by prioritizing our wholeness and wellness.
… create environments where we can thrive
Creative nourishment and spiritual sustenance from both inside and outside are essential. This will look completely different from one mother to the next. My way might be playing my ukulele every day and regularly deep-diving into movement meditation retreats, while yours might be to explore color on canvas or go for long nature walks.
And we’re not meant to do this alone, nor is it a sign of failure if we can’t. For thousands of years, our ancestors mothered in tribes. Asking for support, and being able to receive it, is a must in keeping our wildish selves alive and maintaining our sanity through the intense mothering years. Fragmented as we are now, we can still forge connections and find new ways of being in community.
Maybe this means rotating hanging out at each others’ houses to do household chores together and letting our children play. Maybe it involves joining an online art journaling course or finally taking up the neighbors on their offer to help.
… are real, messy and gloriously imperfect
Wild mothers are not tame. We refuse to be held captive by society’s often limiting ideas of what a good mother is, or to be trapped by fear of being a bad mother. Wild mothers create their own definitions through deep reflection on, and experimentation with, their values and needs, rather than accepting handed-down templates.
Their definitions of living a fulfilling life include doing what nourishes and feeds them as people and as women, as well as nurturing their children in the way that feels right to them. We create our own vision of family life, learning as we go along. We recognize that a mother isn’t some complete, evolved being who then shows her children how to live. A mother is an evolving being-in-action.
We grow alongside our children; they see our experiments and learn from them, as we learn from theirs.
… give ourselves permission to experience and explore all our emotions
As Wild Mothers, we are not afraid of the full kaleidoscopic range of our feelings. We accept that sometimes we feel rage, other times grief at the loss of old identities, freedom and independence, and at our children growing up and away from us. We acknowledge the guilt that stands guardian at the doorway of full permission to create and explore ourselves, and work with this feeling consciously.
We give ourselves space to experience and process our emotions, bringing wholeness and wellness.
… go on voyages of discovery with our Inner Creator, Spiritual Seeker and Playful Child
As with all huge life changes, when a woman becomes a mother, she has access to parts of herself that may have previously lain dormant — parts that may surprise her — including her inner wild child or magical child. They are waiting to come out and play, but they need nurturing and encouragement, because being a mother can also work against our natural wildness coming out.
We have stepped into the adult world on a whole new level, with a huge increase in responsibility, and are constantly being measured against society’s standards of mothering. But watching our children’s innate curiosity and playfulness can also reignite this wild state, if we allow it to.
… share our Wild Creativity and Deep Soulfulness with our children, in ways we could never have expected
Another source of excitement is sharing these parts of our lives with our children, and seeing inspiring new possibilities for cross-pollination of ideas between family life and the inner life.
We don’t have to compartmentalize everything and wait till our kids are asleep or at school before we express and explore ourselves: we can go on beach-combing missions together and make art from our creations, we can make up stories together, we can dance crazily around the living room or make music together — the possibilities are endless.
As Wild Mothers, we engage in a Creative Revolution: questioning and transforming the ideas that can imprison us from the inside. These are the expectations we have of ourselves as mothers, that involve being perfect caregivers and homemakers, always there for our children, and willing to sacrifice ourselves completely. Expectations that no one could fulfill without becoming a soul-starved ghost of herself.
We challenge the deeply entrenched concepts of motherhood that keep us from taking creative flight and making time for our spiritual nourishment. Creative Revolution also involves using the very material of our mothering lives as fuel for the fire of creativity and personal growth, expressing our feelings about motherhood through art, photography, poetry, performance.
We don’t have to know the answers. No matter what we do, we won’t get it perfectly right. So often, no one has shown us the path and we have to pioneer a way forward for ourselves. But we don’t have to do this alone. Wild Motherhood is about being open to new ways of being, solutions we can only envision by stepping out of our old habits, routines and expectations.
We are living the answers, unfolding moment by moment a family life, a creative life, and a spiritual practice that is unique to us. Organically growing, like wildflowers, popping up where you least expect them.
Morgan Nichols has been a lover of words since before she could actually write, dictating stories to her parents from the age of three. She has been working with mothers since 2008 using writing, meditation and discussion as tools to explore and connect, and her book, Wild Motherhood: Tending the Fire of your Creative Spirit, explores how mothers keep their creative passions and soul connections alive. When she’s not engaged in the minutiae that is domestic life as a working single mom, Morgan loves to dance 5Rhythms (including in the living room, with her son), sit around a fire at community camps, go for long walks in the woods, write poetry, and read for hours. Her creative support network for mothers can be found at Wild Motherhood and on Facebook.