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The intent of providing you with Chapter 1 from a qualitative study is for you to glean insight from the structure and description of the entire inquiry.



The shape of one’s knowing becomes the shape of one’s doing, being and becoming.

—Author Unknown

This chapter provides an overview of a narrative inquiry that sought to glean a more informed and in-depth understanding from stories of four working mothers of school-age children and how they pursued and engaged in self-nurturance within a rural, religiously conservative, and historically patriarchal-driven context. The chapter includes the background of the study, need for the study, a purpose statement, guiding research questions, an overview of the theoretical framework undergirding the study, an overview of the research methodology, an identification of the study’s significance, and a delineation of the assumptions and limitations associated with the study.

Background of the Study

My interest in facilitating a narrative inquiry with mothers of school-age children living within a rural, religiously conservative, historically patriarchal-driven environment and their subsequent journey to situate self-nurturance within their daily living stems from my experience as a woman, a mother, and an occupational therapist interested in women’s wellness education within rural communities. Clandinin and Connelly (2000) note, “Narrative inquiries are always strongly autobiographical. Our research interests come out of our own narratives of experience and shape our narrative inquiry plotlines” (p. 121). As a woman living within this contextual environment I have consistently received nonconstructive messages about how much time and effort I should put forth nurturing self. The majority of the messages I have received over the years questioned whether I should, as a wife and mother, take time away from my household, husband, and children to facilitate and maintain my own personal health and well-being. One of my closest and dearest friends, who happens to be a woman, has posed this thought to me numerous times throughout the years, “Is it really appropriate for you to take time away from your children and husband to have a facial or sign up for a painting class—what if the boys need you and you aren’t available because you are doing something for yourself—what if all mothers spent time taking care of themselves—who is going to cook, clean, and help the children with their home-work?” A religiously conservative man within the community, who has always been slightly irritated with my independent nature, once told me “Your place is in the home–you don’t need time for yourself—your children and husband always come first!” These and similar messages from my sociocultural environment have facilitated my confused narrative about the worthiness of my identity as it relates to a mother who nurtures self. As an occupational therapist I have struggled for nearly a decade to conceptualize and move forward ...

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