For many women, the birth of a baby heralds an unexpected and monumental shift in their identity, making them feel isolated and unimportant at a time when society says they should be over the moon.
Soon after my son was born I felt like I became invisible.One day I started wearing 1 earring. Now anyone that knows…
Mum and blogger Anastasia Aligiannis stumbled on a simple detail that illustrated this maternal cloak of invisibility feeling – and it all centred around a single earring.
“One day I started wearing 1 earring. Now anyone that knows me would also know this isn’t something I would usually do, turns out that it took 7 months for anyone to notice I was only wearing 1 earring,” Anastasia wrote.
She explained that once she became a mum and was spending her days at home with her small children rather than out “at work”, people began to look right past her and focus on her children and their needs instead.
“No one ever looked me square in the face”
In her emotional post on Facebook, she said that even those nearest and dearest to her seemed to see her as an extension of her husband and children, rather than as her own person. She had become invisible, she said.
“7 months worth of social interactions, and no one ever looked me square in the face and noticed. It sort of cemented to me that as mum of then 2 children under 2 who was always out and about, who ‘just stayed at home’ or ‘didn’t work’ I had just about become invisible; not just to society (who may not notice or be curious why just 1 earing), but to my family, to my friends and really maybe if I am truly honest even to myself.”
They’re okay, I’m okay?
The mum-of-two concluded that those around her (wrongly!) figured that if the kids and the hubby were okay, then she must be okay too.
“Often my phone conversations (when and if I managed to have them) with family and friends would be “How are the children? How is the husband?” with our conversation then taking its natural flow of where it was going. Very rarely did anyone ask how I was. When I think about it now my guess would be everyone probably just figured if the people it was my responsibility to care for were okay, then I must be.”
It seemed, to Anastasia, that who she was, her previous life and career, and the long days she was now putting in raising her kids counted for very little.
“It’s hard when you have spent your whole life connecting your identity to what you do, the career you built, where you have been and where you are going,” she wrote.
The thread that unites
Anastasia urged her readers to be mindful of the way women are often overlooked or devalued when they take time out of the workforce to raise children. She called for women especially to create a safety net for each other – and to realise their own value – voicing the sentiments she wished someone had taken the time to relay to her.
“We have to let the thread that unites us as mothers be strong enough to be the rope that catches us when we are falling. So, this post is to say that if today you are feeling overwhelmed, invisible or like you don’t matter, you really do.”
“You are so important, and are probably the cog that keeps everything running smoothly. Keep up the good work, and if no one else says it to you this week know that you are invaluable in the work you do and your sacrifices do not go unnoticed.”
We agree – and further, think it’s down to everybody to better support women who are spending most of their time with little kids.
What do you think? Have you felt this way too?
If you’re a parent and you’re feeling isolated or miserable, please chat to your GP or visit PANDA for help. You don’t have to go it alone and even a little bit of support can go a very long way.