You may or may not have had a fleeting thought about who this girl writing to you actually is. Am I some random lady writing a blog just for shits and giggles ( I’m actually hilarious FYI – seriously, ask my husband about the vault of caulk jokes I had at the ready for our basement reno). So since you’re clearly wondering who this crazy blogger is, here’s the answer:
I’m not entirely sure anymore.
Now before you get all concerned and start asking me about my name, the date and if I know where I am, just hear me out for a minute. If you’re a new mom, you’ve probably felt exactly the same way at some point, maybe you even still feel this way. So why is it I feel like a shell of my old self? I’m still the same person, I still enjoy the same things, the same people, my favourite food is still wine. So why is it that while still feeling like myself, I couldn’t help feeling inherently different?
The answer could be “Matresence”, but of course it couldn’t be that simple. If you open your dictionary you’ll be hard pressed to find a definition for that word. Conceived in 1973 by medical anthropologist and breastfeeding advocate Dana Raphael, Matresence can be defined as “the process of becoming a mother.” It’s common knowledge that a woman’s body undergoes massive physiological changes during pregnancy, you’re creating a tiny human after all! But what about the psychological changes that a person goes through? What effects do all of the hormonal changes experienced have on our psyche? How does a person cope with the realization that they’re not really the same person they were before? Luckily, Alexandra Sacks M.D. has made it her goal to understand this transition into motherhood better, and is considered the leading clinical expert on matresence, but with so much still to learn about this concept, what can we do as a community to help mother’s get back to a sense of wholeness?
Now I’m not talking about getting back to my pre baby body (think sexy Pillsbury Doughgirl) or mentally preparing myself to go back to work (oh God, it’s coming up too fast!), instead I’m talking about a fundamental change in who I’ve become as a person. My first introduction to the term Matresence came from a post by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, a UK Parenting Author, and there was a Rajneesh quote in it that I couldn’t stop thinking about after I’d read it:
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”
Could this idea that not only did I give birth to a child, but to an entirely new identity be the cause of this nagging feeling that had been following me around for months? All this time I had been feeling lost but not sure what the issue was. I had at multiple points wondered if I was going through some form of postpartum depression, that’s how unsure I felt about myself. I was missing the life I once had without really understanding that an entirely new life for me was now beginning. What if, instead of mourning the loss of who I had been, I celebrated the possibilities of who I could become?
I can see the eye rolls starting, but stick with me.
Here I am, at home for the next three months. I have nothing but time. Time to figure out what kind of parent I really want to be. Time to decide how I’m going to raise my child, to figure out what kind of example I want to set for him. I have time to reflect on who I was before I was a mom, and some of the stuff I see staring back at me isn’t so pretty. I mean, I don’t think I was a horrible person, but I placed so much importance on unimportant things. I let the little things get to me – I’d snap at my husband for not putting a dish in the dishwasher. I always had something pressing to do like clean the house top to bottom before company came over. I couldn’t seem to find the time to call my grandmother, let alone visit her, and don’t get me started on all the petty gossip I loved to hear and take part in. It probably sounds similar to a lot of other people in a lot of different places. So what now?
Now I have a chance to start again. I have a blank page in front of me just waiting to be filled, and now that my eyes have been opened to what is really and truly important, I can start to make the little changes today that might just lead to big changes tomorrow. My idea of happiness might look a bit like being more present as I watch my son grow up much too fast. Or finding new things to be grateful for, and taking the time to actually enjoy them. If I don’t get around to vacuuming the floor this week, I’m pretty sure the world isn’t going to end! And there will be just as much dog hair to vacuum up next week. And if someone has a problem with me taking my son to visit his great grandmother instead of vacuuming my house they can just go and shove that Dyson straight up their tight – aaaand breathe! New leaf Megan! Remember the change for the better you’re making in your life and the example you want to set for your child!
Obviously this isn’t going to happen overnight. But I can choose to be just a little bit better every day.
And if you want, you can too.
We as a community can talk about this change that new moms are going through, and we can tell them it’s ok. We can be there to support one another and not judge someone just because we have a different set of priorities. We can be present with one another, we can listen, we can offer our love. As cliché as it sounds we can change the world with just a little bit of kindness. Whether you’re a parent or not, whether you think you can or can’t, whether you feel like the ship to change your life has sailed – you have a choice. Take a deep breathe, hold your loved ones hand, read a book while you sip a cup of tea, try something new, visit family you haven’t seen in a while, call someone just to hear their voice. It’s so easy to do these little things that we keep putting them off in exchange for crossing the bigger items off the list, but when it comes to your happiness, I guarantee it’s the little things that will make the biggest difference. And if nothing else, do something small for yourself and if anyone says something, just visualize where that vacuum is ending up, that’s sure to bring a smile to your face.