Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Melia Keeton-Digby, M.Ed
The Heroines Club
Bringing the medicine of women’s circles to the mother-daughter relationship
Throughout the ages, women from all walks of life, religions, belief systems, and cultures have been gathering in circles to collaborate, discuss, and share feminine wisdom. We do this because, deep in our bones, we know it feels right to support and be supported by a community of other women.
On a summer day in 1956, at a church picnic in Illionis, USA, seven women came together in a circle to form La Leche League. These women had successfully nursed their own children (not at all a common feat at the time) and, after experiencing the benefits and gifts of a nursing relationship, felt called to help mothers who, for a variety of different reasons, had difficulties with and questions about breastfeeding. From that grassroots circle of mothers, an international movement was born. Today, La Leche League International spans the globe, with circles of women gathering together to encourage, inform, and support one another.
I witnessed the magic of LLL circling from a young age. Each month, my mother, a dedicated La Leche League Leader, would open the doors of our home to the women of our community and their children. Sitting on the floor at my mother’s feet, I listened as she led the discussion round the circle. I heard talking, listening, and laughing. As I look back now on those powerful circles of women gathered in my childhood home, I see, in my mind’s eye, the witnessing, mirroring, deepening, role-modeling, grieving, drawing upon experience, and sharing the wisdom of experience. I see “sacred” women’s community and the indelible imprint this support and sharing made on my heart.
Many years later, after my own three beloved children had weaned and our special La Leche League days became replaced by ball practice and homework assignments, an undeniable void was left in my life. When our children are babies and preschoolers, we have built-in opportunities for connection with other mothers through play dates, play groups, preschool pick-up, and LLL meetings. By elementary school, these opportunities are diminishing, but our need for a supportive community is ever present.
On a gorgeous day in Athens, Georgia, USA, I sat in a circle with other women and thought, “Why should our daughters wait for this?” They don’t have to wait until they become adults to seek out this community, compassion, and self-love. We can give this to our daughters now!
We can raise our daughters to believe in their inherent worth and power as growing women, and to know how it feels to be supported in and by a circle of women. And more than this, circling with our daughters helps us deal with all that worries us about mothering them! This is how The Heroines Club was born.
The Heroines Club is for mothers and daughters to study and share together. Each month’s circle examines a real-life heroine: athletes, inventors, artists, and revolutionaries from around the world, strong role models for young girls to learn about and be inspired by. Through discussion and creative activities, we explore female issues with a potent focus that nurtures the mother-daughter bond.
In the past, our daughters would have been raised in a community of sisters, aunts, cousins, and friends. Today’s culture can make mothering daughters intimidating and isolating. The circle offers us an antidote that gives us a conscious community to support us in the tasks of mothering and growing up.
Writer and poet Jeanette Leblanc once wrote, “A circle of women may just be the most powerful force known to humanity. If you have one, embrace it. If you need one, seek it.”
We were never meant to do this alone. By bringing the medicine of women’s circles to the mother-daughter relationship, we create a feathered nest, where a girl knows she belongs, and from which she feels safe enough to fly, knowing she may always return.
Melia Keeton-Digby is the mother of three and author of The Heroines Club: A Mother-Daughter Empowerment Circle, published by Womancraft Publishing this April. She is the founder of www.themotherdaughternest.com.