Interview with Sara Maynard, Director of Mothers Affection Matters (MAMs)
Hi Sara, could you please introduce yourself?
I am Sara Maynard, Director of Mothers Affection Matters CIC (M.A.M.s.), I am a psychotherapist and a coach, but most importantly I am a mother of four children. The role of mother is my most important role out of everything that I do. We often say “I am only just a mum”. There is nothing “just only” about being a mum, it’s a huge job! The most important job in our planet today.
How did MAMs “happen” for you?
I listened many years ago to Princess Diana speaking at a conference of women. She was saying, a lot of things can happen to children who don’t feel loved, but a child will never die of having too much love. This started me thinking about love and childhood. My mom lost her first born child after a few days and at the time she had to pretend that nothing had happened and never really grieved. This had a big impact on our family life and my own childhood. It made me realise that there is a need to celebrate motherhood, the role of the mother is pivotal in the lives of children. We have a moral duty to support those mothers who don’t feel like celebrating because life has been tough for them.
M.A.M.s was created because we know how important a mother’s love is for her child, sometimes mothers require support to be able to hold the compassion and attention for their children. I read a book when I was training to specialise in family counselling: The Continuum Concept, by Jean Liedloff. She lived and worked for 3 years as a paediatrician with the Iguana Indians and what struck me is that she said, she never ever heard a baby cry. This is because the mothers strap the babies to their bodies and the baby is carried everywhere until able to walk. Therefore, the baby always has this skin on skin contact. Also, the children are always put first. I realised looking around me that this is not the way it works in the West. In 2013, with my colleague Helen Davies we founded MAMs. At the time I was getting a lot of clients that had suffered abuse and needed counselling so we set up a support group for women. Since then, it has been really successful, our whole ethos centres around compassion and creating a safe place for healing to occur.
MAMs has been defined as “the glue between the bricks”. This exact same phrase was used by Edinburgh university recently, to describe how compassion works. We don’t provide legal support and we don’t deal with the bureaucracy of the situation, there are already organisations providing that kind of service. We provide the loving and compassionate support that enables men, women and children to heal. Mothers and Fathers have the most important job in the world, they are bringing up our future leaders, our future generation and they deserve to be nurtured.
What news is 2016 bringing for MAMs?
In 2016 our women came together and said: “look, we are really not happy about the way we are being treated by the police, the social workers and the agencies. There is something not human about them, a real lack of compassion”. We found a film maker, Sharon from Curious Ostrich, and for several months she has been filming our women in all their activities. In the film, the women want to spread a powerful message: they didn’t just arrive in a violent relationship; they ended up like this because they were repeating patterns that began in their childhood when they didn’t feel: loved or accepted. “If your love tank is full, only then you are able to give love to yourself and others”. Our ultimate goal is to bring this film in front of the Senadd, for them to talk to the Welsh Government about what is needed to change; because they want a survival blueprint they don’t want to be seen as ‘victims’. It is a very tough message they are bringing which requires courage and self-responsibility.
Another big project we are extending is the start-up incubator: many of the women we have supported have recovered now and they want to get on with their lives. They want to get a job or start their own business, so we are acting as the incubator for the setup of these new ventures. Just as we did with Chloe Project setting up a market garden business. They need a lot of support to get through the highs and lows of running a new business, this is already challenging for people who have not been through what these women have been through.
Finally, a couple of Universities have contacted us to do some research together.
Could you describe a day in your life? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
No two days are ever the same! It is my absolute passion for this work that motivates me. In the same day I can be scripting for the film… or taking out groups, digging and planting vegetables… giving talks, even abseiling down the keep of Pembroke Castle to raise funds. We are also off to San Francisco very soon as we have been invited on scholarship training with Global Gratitude Alliance Group. They work with families with PTSD and this is very similar to what we do, as we have a lot of women and children with some form of PTSD. We are delighted to have the opportunity to train with them and bring back this knowledge to the group. We know that our women are asking for changes to be made, we serve our community and so we are seeking the answers. We know nationally research is being carried out to find solutions to what is termed ‘domestic violence’, in other parts of the world this is shifting, we can help our mothers find inner peace.
How can we find out more about MAMs’ projects?
This is the bit I am rubbish at… we do lot of amazing things but not many people know! We do need help with this.
At the moment we have someone working on a website for us. This year we need to improve on communication! You can keep up with our news on our MAMs Facebook page and you can email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org.