Imagine this. You and bub turn up for your first mother’s group meeting.
After the formalities are over, someone sits down, offers you a cup of tea and says: “Let’s talk about how this situation feels for you, mum. Because you are now starting your own process of growing and working out who you are now.”
Do you think that kind of conversation would help you feel better about the bump days ahead?
Would it help give you a reason for why absolutely everything in your life seems to have turned upside down since becoming a mum? Mindfulness coach and author Amy Taylor-Kabbaz believes it really would.
Read more stories about motherhood:
- How to make the first months of motherhood easier
- The dangerous ideas about motherhood we need to talk about
- The real reason I take my kids to the park
Every woman’s journey is different
In her recent chat with Babyology podcast Feed Play Love Amy describes this journey towards motherhood as ‘matrescence’.
“It’s an anthropological term which refers to the birth of a mother and the transition from woman to mother, “Amy says.
“This is a process that doesn’t take one moment or one year – it’s almost never-ending – because motherhood changes you on every level.”
Amy told Feed Play Love it’s helpful to think of this transition in the same way we think about adolescence.
“A teenager seems to change so quickly – one day they wake up and seem a completely different person thanks to all those hormone changes. Well, matrescence happens the same way,” Amy explains.
Listen to Amy on Feed Play Love:
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I’ve learnt my greatest anger comes from feeling like I’ve compromised myself for others. When I had plans for myself, and somehow they were compromised because of what my family needed from me. Take last night: A truly crap night. Only a few hours sleep, partly because of a series of wake ups from a 5 year old, and partly because that 3am insomnia kicked in after the 3rd wake up. But this morning I planned to exercise. And in my mind, at 5.45am, I was too tired and over it to go. But this is what I know for SURE now: If I don’t go, I’ll be angry at my little boy all day. Perhaps not outwardly (although that bubbles up too), but definitely inside. I will feel pissed off that my plans had to change again. I will feel upset that my needs are sacrificed again. So… I don’t compromise anymore. I get to yoga or the gym, even if it’s a simple class. I do what I promised myself I would do. It’s the only way to not feel like you’ve lost yourself completely to this stage of life. X
“In every way you are changed”
“It affects every element of your life. Your hormones, your psychological and socio-economic standing, your emotional and spiritual life. In every way you are changed.”
Amy says she has enormous empathy for new mums facing such a big life transition.
“I became a mum 11 years ago and found this process such a struggle because I had such a strong sense of myself before motherhood and I had a really strong attachment to that, “ Amy recalls.
“I was one of those people who were like, oh no becoming a mother won’t change me or my goals or my dreams! I’ll just bring the baby along … so that was a crash landing for me!”
Amy’s experience inspired her to research the process of matrescence and share it with other mums.
“I thought I must have been the only person out there researching this, and then in 2018 I listened to a podcast about matrescence by the Motherhood Centre at Columbia University,” she explains. “Light bulbs went off in my head! Suddenly I had a name for what I was feeling and researching!”
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The hardest thing to say as a mama… But it really is ok. We can absolutely and completely adore being a mother, and having our world filled with our little ones, AND YET… We need more. More passion, more work, more freedom, more sex, more sleep, more girlfriends, more goals, more ambition. So hard to say, but so important to own. Without guilt. X
Prepare yourself by naming your journey
Being able to name the process of matrescence was empowering for Amy.
“I felt like there was finally an acknowledgment that you change and it takes a long time to figure out who you are on the other side of this process. And that it’s okay to feel lost and need help working out how to support yourself,” Amy says.
Being able to prepare yourself ahead of this journey, by acknowledging the process, is a vital part of getting stronger.
“A key part of that first year is grieving the changes in your life. Part of you is no longer there anymore when you become a mother,” she says.
“Acknowledge that you are transforming into the next season of your life.If we can reframe it like that, it feels empowering rather than scary.”