When we realised that one week in May includes the ‘International day of the midwife’, ‘International day of the nurse’ and ‘Mother’s Day’, the NCNNM team decided to pose a question to colleagues about what this means to them. Under the working title of, ‘The nurse, the midwife, the mother, the woman’ this is what some colleagues shared.
Through my work as a nurse, midwife and mother, I have come to understand the true nature of being a woman and this is something that continues to unfold and something that I am more and more appreciative and in awe of.
A far cry from what I first perceived these roles to be (hard work, putting others before myself, chosen martyrdom…) I am coming to realise that they are really the opposite. Once I accept the magic of these roles they are full of inspiration, flow, learning, offerings and joy. Physically demanding maybe but that then inspires me to take care of myself in a way that makes me fit for them. Beyond that it is simply the blessing of being alongside others in a capacity that can support, guide and care for us all. And the richness of this endlessly blows me away.
Who hasn’t been touched by the exquisite power and delicacy of touch? Or blown away by someone’s insight, openness and awareness?
To watch people grow and come to their own realisations when given the space to do so, encourages me to do the same for myself, rather than giving myself a hard time for mistakes and trip ups I make through a day. And this cuts through a dangerous picture we have of many things, but prominent in these roles, and that is the idea of perfection. I reckon there is no such thing in human life. That one of the gifts of life is to learn and be up for constantly developing. So, rather than giving ourselves a hard time for not being perfect, how about being in the full wonderment of all the learning that is on offer.
To be a woman is to be wise, delicate, strong, sure, sassy, humble and beautiful in the true meaning of the word – shining our qualities out into the world for all to see. (Midwife)
I love caring for people. I love that the mother and the midwife give me full permission to care for people, to love people all of the time. I realised that to sustain this, for the woman in me to feel well and loved too, I need to look after myself in detail every day. It’s the little things and the big things that make up the way that I feel. Like every evening now I don’t watch TV. I just found it was making me feel more tense after a day at work. Instead we lay on the lounge together and just talk. Sometimes after a big day at work I’ll drift in and out just totally relaxing and piping into the conversation here and there. Sometimes we do a foot massage swap. I get into bed at 9pm and sleep well after spending the night like this. The days at work are so much easier for me to stay steady when I’m not tired. If I am tired at work I find I can’t handle the pace, it starts to feel like demands, what I love about the job goes out the window because I feel too tense.
Food really impacts on how well I handle life too. If I eat sugar I am more reactive. No doubt about it. Working as a midwife then coming home to take my daughter to her after school activities, making dinner and keeping the house in order are just so much easier if I am not tired or reactive. I feel like I have the best job in the world and I really like working out the ways I can support myself to feel strong and caring in amongst all of the things that are going on day to day. (Midwife)
As a woman, nursing has given me an opportunity to express the deep love and care I have for people. I enjoy the tender and collaborative relationships I form with patients and colleagues. I also appreciate the challenges of the sensitivities I have that ask me to be more and more aware of what is really needed. I too have found that nursing has asked me to take deeper and better care of myself in order to hold my loving quality as a woman, in order to do my work without losing myself. It has made me more loving, more solid and more aware of the part I play as a woman, and as a nurse. (Nurse)
Wow…. when I truly let myself feel our innermost divine qualities that we each bring as a nurse, midwife, mother and woman, I feel such delicacy in our touch and movements around another, deep care and attention to detail without perfection, a beholding love and giving of space, endless patience without the need to control a situation, an allowance of another to just be themselves, deep inner stillness, harmony and flow in our movements, divine beauty and other worldliness when someone looks into our eyes and a sensitivity and knowingness of what to do in any situation (we all read people very well). The list is endless…so much to appreciate about ourselves. (Midwife)
I had never noticed before that midwives, mothers and nurses were all celebrated within one week. It stopped me in my tracks when it was recently pointed out to me.
Yes, all that we do can certainly be celebrated, for we all do a great deal for others, no matter the context. But is the ‘doing’ what needs to be celebrated here? There is something much deeper that needs to be honoured within each nurse, midwife and mother and that is the qualities we nurture within ourselves that come to the fore when we are caring for others. When we connect to and develop deeply caring and nurturing ways with ourselves, it can’t help but come out in all that we do, and when people are receiving care from one who deeply nurtures and cares for themselves they cannot help but feel this and know this. These qualities of nurturing and caring are gender-less and role-less for they are qualities that are within each and every one of us and because they are within, they can be felt and truly lived. (Nurse)
In the past I would have said the nurse, the mother and the woman were separate aspects of my life that I had neatly compartmentalised in my mind. Yet with hindsight I was able to see common threads throughout my life and the roles that I have played in life. I was oblivious to the patterns that drove me as a young nurse but when I became a mother, I realised that the same patterns that play out for many nurses and midwives, were all there to see. The inability to find time to sit down and rest, have a drink of water, a shower or go to the toilet without feeling the world would end, were all there in my face. In a perverse kind of way, I was getting way too much out of the self-sacrifice, enjoying the martyrdom and kudos for being such a dedicated and ‘caring’ mother. It was only exhaustion that brought me to my senses and made me stop. It was only then that I could see that my re-interpreted version of ‘caring for others’ by putting everyone first and neglecting myself was not working for me or anyone else. I watched as so many beliefs that I held as a woman started to unravel and my understanding of true care slowly began to grow and be lived. The beauty of letting go of the roles that I had taken on from when I was young, was that the woman began to emerge. Long hidden under a lot of ‘shoulds’, ‘shouldn’ts’ and expectations, I came to know and love the true woman I am and bring this consistently into anything I do. No longer is she left at home when I go to work or left at the door when I greet my family. She is the source of true nurturing and care. (Nurse)
Living life as a nurse and a woman has been an unfolding process over many years, from the young girl starting a nursing career to the elder nurse, who is still very involved in a profession that has brought such a richness, satisfaction, fulfilment and joy to me.
This is an occasion for all nurses to be acknowledged and appreciated for the skills, knowledge and qualities we so generously express to everyone we encounter in our daily lives. What viewed by others is often ‘the tip of the iceberg’, as unseen qualities of thoughtfulness, a quiet knowing, nurturing, caring and sensitivity that are naturally held within and expressed in gentle and delicate movements, such as a hand on another’s shoulder without imposition, hence allowing space for the person to be who they truly are in each moment. Nursing has graciously provided me with growth, flexibility, adaptability, confidence, an inner calm, integrity and a responsibility to self-reflect and deepen my awareness to self-care, opening a doorway to naturally accept, connect to and respect others. I feel very honoured to have had a life that has been well lived and worthwhile, valuing what it means to be a true nurse. (Nurse)