Are you sick of reading posts about motherhood and kids yet? Ugh. Even I’m kind of sick of it. But sorry. Here we go again.
Because even though I swore that my next post wouldn’t be all mommy, navel-gaze-y, self-relfection, mumbo jumbo crap, I found this article. And it kinda knocked my socks off.
Even the title:
“The Birth of a Mother.”
Aaah. Can you smell that? That sweet aroma is called Validation, my friends.
Because how often do we associate just the baby with childbirth, and not the mom?
I mean, of course, the standard-issue comment after a kid is born is, “Mom and baby are doing well.”
But that’s usually where it stops.
Not that people stop caring about moms—that’s hardly the case.
But it’s just that we spend so much damn time analyzing our baby’s growth and his feeding and the color of his poops that we forget to keep track of our own, and other moms’, mental health and strength. And often to our own detriment.
The American Psychological Association says 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression.
I’ve told a tragic story on this blog before on what can happen when hospitals or institutions don’t pay enough attention to moms. Dear God, it can’t be this way anymore.
So, my thought when I read this article was, “Cool!” Finally, doctors and researchers and other Smarty Pants types are spilling some ink on the complicated experience of motherhood.
This can only be a good thing.
And it’s cool, too, that they have a word for that growth period we go through when we change from Self-Possessed-Woman-Who-Woke-Up-at-9-Then-Did-Yoga-Then-Starbucks-Then-Showered to, well, Mom.
I like the way that sounds—like we know what we’re doing, or something!
So, a little back info. Shockingly (insert ironic eye roll here), while lots of research has been done into the development of the child postpartum, not nearly as time for research appears to have been done on the journey of the mother.
“Instead of focusing on the woman’s identity transition, more research is focused on how the baby turns out. … Women who go through the hormonal changes of pregnancy may have a specific neurobiological experience.”
The mom being last on the list of priorities? No! (Insert another ironic eye roll here.)
“When people have more insight into their emotions, they can be more in control of their behaviors. So even when the focus remains on the child, understanding the psychology of pregnant and postpartum women can help promote healthier parenting. Mothers with greater awareness of their own psychology may be more empathetic to their children’s emotions.”
This is what we call a Win-Win-Win, my friends.
Ooh! Ooh! And one more quote that made me feel spades less crazy than I did before reading that this “matrescence” thing was a “thing?”
“When women find themselves feeling lost somewhere between who they were before motherhood and who they think they should be now, many worry that something is terribly wrong, when in fact this discomfort is absolutely common.”
See?! It’s common! Your (and my) neuroses are perfectly normal!!!
And Moms? Delete Instagram. Or at least start following only people who shoot you straight on motherhood:
“Consider the Instagram image of the pregnant and postpartum supermom: a nurturing, organized, sexy-but-modest multitasker who glows during prenatal yoga and seems unfazed by the challenges of leaking breasts, dirty laundry and sleep training. This woman is a fiction. She’s an unrealistic example of perfection that makes other women feel inadequate when they pursue and can’t achieve that impossible standard.”
Much like the unicorn, the Perfect Mom exists only in your imagination. Although if I could wish one to life I would definitely choose the unicorn.
And one more nugget that stuck out to me:
“[T]he history of psychiatrists ignoring how pregnancy impacts a woman’s development can be traced back to Freud. Women are often left with a false binary: They either have postpartum depression or they should breeze through the transition to motherhood.”
That’s not true. Let me say that again: THAT IS JUST NOT TRUE.
There are shades of postpartum depression. Areas of gray. Different ways and different levels of intensity when experiencing the big changes motherhood shoves upon us. We all feel it differently, if we feel any changes at all. It’s not just “there” or “not there.”
So, do yourself and another mom a favor. Read this article, share it, and then, on whatever platform you choose—online, in a support group, or even whispered to your best friend during a conversation sworn to secrecy—share your story. Share some of the goods and the bads of motherhood. Be honest, be real.
It’s not because you want to scare anyone; it’s because only when the whole story of motherhood is told, can we finally know that we are all in the same boat.
And that’s a very comforting thought indeed.
Every time more research like this is done, every time a woman shares her postpartum story, and every time we acknowledge that no matter what happens, we will be okay, we help other moms out there sit in peace with their stories.
And if that’s what a little radical honesty and a lot more research can do, what downside is there?
Tell me: How was your experience with becoming a new mom? What do you think about more research being devoted to matrescence? Hit me up in the Comments section below!