Motherhood - Expectations vs. Reality
When our experience of motherhood doesn’t meet society's accepted image.
Motherhood is idealised in Western culture. Having children is seen as the ultimate happiness and completion in a woman’s life. There is a given that women step into motherhood intuitively, The moment when mother and baby meet is portrayed as an instant connection and magical bond. As a woman, choosing not to be a mother is still met with judgement, incredulity and confusion.
This idealisation of motherhood exacerbates the fact that women tend to be forgotten when they become mothers. The rite of passage a woman goes through by being reborn as a mother is mainly ignored, unknown and pushed aside in our culture. The transition into motherhood, the process of Matrescence through which women make sense of what it means to them to become a mother is lost and unattended, hence nonexistent.
What happens when women don’t meet society’s unattainable expectations? When their experience is different from the picture portrayed in movies, magazines and social media? When they look for an answer to what they are feeling and all they are met with is either baby blues, postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis?
The message from society is:‘ Your experience is not allowed, is wrong and you shouldn’t trust yourself.’
So, people learn to hide, invalidate, minimise and repress their own emotions → Action
The consequences are
‘ I am the only one struggling’
‘No one will understand’.
‘I cannot talk about this to anyone else’.
Shame and guilt
‘How come I am feeling like this?’
‘Am I a bad mother?’
‘Is there something wrong with me?’
‘Do I love my child?’.
The ANTIDOTE - Matrescence
Our cultural construction of birth and motherhood is framed by a capitalistic globalised society in which mass production, speed, obsolescence and cost effectiveness prevails. Enclosed in a patriarchal system which has controlled and objectified birthing people.
The consequences of ignoring the process of Matrescence can have a major impact on mental health, sometimes leading to illness.
Birth is sacred. In this rite of passage we are reborn. Through Matrescence we make sense of what motherhood means for us. This is an ongoing process that keeps changing, growing and evolving alongside our children.
It is crucial we start talking about Matrescence again and ditch the term baby blues. (If you are interested, read my previous post on the importance of losing that term). Language matters, it defines us and our world. We need to redirect the focus of attention to the birthing person, creating the space, support and care necessary for them to find their meaning and accompany them on that journey of rebirth and motherhood. Sharing our unfiltered experiences of motherhood, the struggles as well as the blessings. Our future depends on this.