Breathe: Navigating the Transformative Journey of Parenting
BY Fae Wolfe, GEN member and 2023 Seed Project awardee
22 NOVEMBER 2023
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR
Fae is a movement facilitator based in Manchester, England. Her master’s degree in dance and somatic wellbeing explored how storytelling can emerge from the colonised body. Her academic research project, ‘Women of Colour and Somatic Movement’, is published with Taylor & Franics (2023). Fae is a registered Movement Facilitator and coach with ISMETA, offering one-to-one sessions.
It is lifechanging to become a parent, whether you grew the baby in your own body, or the baby grew in someone else’s, the responsibilities of the motherwork are transformative. So much of parenting is a social phenomenon, we expect mothers/parents to love being caregivers. We expect that our children will offer us the joy we never knew before. And it’s true, the bond we create with babies is incomparable to any other, yet there is a shadow side to parenting that gets left out of the spotlight. Parenting is consuming, and often people lose themselves in the waves of feeding, cleaning, loving, partnering, discovering themselves, and seeing the world anew. We give our entire bodies to grow our children, and in that storm of time, the fundamental practice of self care can get pushed aside. Sometimes we barely take time to breathe deep enough so that our abdomen can rise and fall.
The postpartum experience is a myriad of bliss and loneliness, with postnatal depression affecting 15% of gestational parents and 10% of non gestational (RC PSYCH, 2023). The loneliness and low mood associated with the postpartum makes sense, it’s monotonous caring for children, and in Western society this essential role of parenting is overlooked. Often we live away from wider family members and elders, lack a community in which to share caregiving, and all those with parental responsibility may have to work. For these reasons, we are often moving through the world without seeing it, or remembering to breathe deep enough so that our bellies rise and fall.
A lack of community and opportunities to engage in wellbeing practices were the core reasons myself and co-founder, Sian Fawcett established our community interest company, The Peoples Movement Network. Our intention is to provide regular wellbeing sessions for parents and children. Parental wellness is at the forefront of our mission statement, we center mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing for parents while creating a supportive environment for children. Our approach is holistic, with our long term aims being to create an interdependent community.
During the GEN Seed Project we offered four workshops at Calm Connections in the heart of Stretford, Manchester. These sessions offered childcare and a wellbeing activity, these included: Kundalini Yoga, Somatic Movement, Writing for Wellbeing and Mindful Breathwork. Parents were able to engage in the activity and then connect with parents afterwards. We ran the sessions on a weekend to make it accessible for working parents. Since the project, we created an online community where parents connect and plan physical meetups. Our Instagram page is https://www.instagram.com/circleroundcollective/. Since the project, we secured funding to run a series of Mindful Movement sessions for parents and children in Hulme, Manchester. These sessions include grounding practices, mindful play, movement and a talking circle and have been accessed by various parents within the community and have expanded our Circle Round collective.