I read a post the other day about matrescence. Now, I had no idea that this was even a thing but it is defined as the psychological birth of a mother, similar to adolescence, involving hormonal and identity shifting. I had one of those ahah! eye opening moments when I read this because its something I struggled to put a name to over this past year of motherhood.
I had a conversation with someone recently who told me she feared becoming a mother. I felt obligated to share with her my own fears of becoming a mother in hopes that she would see that many of us have similar ones. Before my pregnancy, I honestly felt I lacked that motherly nature some women have about them. The lack of excitement when I saw children made me wonder if I possessed the qualities or the emotion needed to be that great mom. I wanted to put into words what it felt like to experience the transition into motherhood and it wasnt until I really sat to think about it that I could piece together all that it entails.
What you dont realize is that during pregnancy with all the stretching and the pushing around of your organs not all of the changes you experience are physical. I spent a decent part of my pregnancy is disbelief that I was even pregnant, carrying an unborn child who tried to remind more often than not with a swift kick to the rib. I did however, start feeling this emotion that was unfamiliar, a sense of protectiveness that never had any reason to crawl out of my being. I loved the baby I was growing with such intensity that it scared me.
During those first few months after birth, I felt fatigued, emotional, overwhelmed. I think back and think about the identity shift that was happening. Noone talks about this really. Like it's some unspoken rite of passage that mothers are supposed to go through and figure out for themselves. I wish I could go back to those times and tell myself that it was alright to feel this way because even to this day these feelings still surface.
I guess what it boils down to is guilt. Do I miss the life I had before I became a mother? Yes, I do. I miss the freedom I had, the ability to pick up and go, make spontaneous plans, without having that little itch in the back of my head that I know is my mom radar always keeping me in check. Do I miss the relationship I had with my husband before we had a baby? Well yes, its different you know when your alone time is dependent on nap and bed times. Do I miss not having to be as responsible as I must be now? This one is a huge yes. Those days of lounging around all day, binge watching TV and sleeping in are gone at the moment. When you're forced to wake up early and carry out the responsibilities of being a parent, theres a part of you wishing you could go back in time to tell yourself to enjoy those moments a little bit more.
Over time I think you find a way to make peace with the fact that your life has changed. Theres a certain happiness that your child brings to your life that couldn't be felt without them. Sure some days may feel long and as exhausted as you may be, that happiness is still there even if buried under 20 diaper changes and crying tantrums. I know on those days when it's 6am and I'm dragging my self out of bed because my son is awake, I groan and wonder if I'll ever feel rested again. But I usually sit up and look at him, while he stares at me with his silly toothy smile saying mama over and over and think of how lucky I am to have received such a gift. Life is different and even with the sacrifices you have to make, you find your way. You eventually shift into this new identity, naturally. The instinctual nature of motherhood kicks in and before you realize it, the hierachy that once existed in your mind where you were number #1 has changed. This baby takes precedence over anyone and anything and you will be okay with that. Just remember, its okay to feel lost and unsure of who your becoming once that baby comes along. That love you feel when they look into your eyes will unveil the superhero that has always existed inside of you.