Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms and dads (who double as moms). As a fellow mom myself, I can attest to how difficult the parenting experience can be. We take for granted the enormous physical and psychological changes that come with pregnancy and subsequent parenting or supporting your pregnant partner. I often reflect on my own experience of becoming Mother.
As an avid reader (graduate school broke me), I read about everything to prepare myself for motherhood. What to eat and how active to be during pregnancy. What to avoid and what I needed to supplement during pregnancy. How my body changed during pregnancy, at least on a non-clinical level. I read about various baby items and what the safest car seats, cribs, shampoos, etc. were. I had books about pregnancy for dads and books on breastfeeding. I had several books on labor alone, and one full of humorous anecdotes that no one talks about in order to have a light-hearted balance to the massive undertaking I convinced myself parenting was going to be in becoming Mother.
I did not come across a single book that talked about the profound identity shift that takes place overnight when you become a parent. There is a fundamental change in your overall lifestyle that happens as you transition from your former self to your parenting self and then to a hybrid of the two as your child becomes more independent. Not one book that I came across thematically tackled how you are important in the process of this change and how to care for yourself. I went from being a fashion-savvy career woman – with the freedom to do what I want, when I want – to being a mom who was hurting, recovering, and learning my most important lesson in life. I was perpetually in a state of trying hard for my family and wearing myself out, all in the name of becoming Mother. It took a huge toll on my marriage, my career, and my community as early motherhood turned into 3 months of seclusion with my focus being solely on my daughter.
Then, when I felt I had just gotten the hang of being a parent – the schedule, the sleeping, the milestones, the doctors’ appointments – I had to go back to work. I decided to go part-time because of the new, immense intrinsic guilt and anxiety I felt leaving my baby. When I went to work, I was relieved but also stressed. It was bittersweet, and I didn’t know who I was anymore.
I say all this because I think this is a tremendously emotional and psychological process that goes relatively unaddressed because of the presumption that motherhood is instinctual. Let’s start factoring this in when it comes to our marriages/partnerships, our jobs, and our own mental health.
To all of you who have undergone this tremendous journey and/or are still going through it, I salute you and respect you. I write this to open the door to talk about this process that is ongoing. I am still learning and growing as a parent, as I’ve learned the process of becoming Mother is lifelong.
A book that tackles this specifically (which I appreciate) is linked here.
Happy Mother’s Day all!
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