We acknowledge the transition of puberty, your body is changing, hormones are shifting. Matrescence is the word for a similar transition:
The transition into motherhood.
Integrating this baby and your new role as a mother*, with the other areas of your life. It’s not just a shifting of your body and hormones but also of your identity.
*whether thats for your first baby or subsequent babies
I grew up in a world where I felt like there were certain milestones - like a video game, where if you met all the levels and clocked the whole thing you would be rewarded with... happiness. It went a little something like this:
go to university.
get a good job.
meet a man + fall in love
get a promotion at work
marry above mentioned man
have 2.5 kids and live happily ever after. (Although im still not sure what the .5 means exactly)
Thankfully, I now know that happiness is a feeling that we can experience in the present moment and isn't something we have to strive for. I also know that the above model (amongst other failings) is heteronormative.
This myth of the baby being the final milestone in the journey to happiness is harmful because it sets us up for the idea that we should now be whole and happy. Instead we are being broken apart, in the same way that caterpillars turn to mush in their cocoon before emerging as butterflies or that stars collapse and are reborn. There is danger in seeking wholeness outside of ourselves because ultimately we will never find it. The power is in realising you are already whole.
"When a baby is born, so is a mother. Each unsteady in their own way"
My great-grandmother once told me the secret to a lasting and happy marriage was to let go of expectation. I’ve since realised this advice can be applied to all areas of life. It's a shift in perspective that has the power to change everything. When we let go of how we think things should be we are free to enjoy the unfolding of what is.
Who wouldn't enjoy a little more freedom?
Dr. Alexandra Sacks is the leading clinical expert on matrescence and her book "What No One Tells You: A Guide to Your Emotions from Pregnancy to Motherhood” co-authored with Dr.Catherine Birndorf is available for pre-sale on Amazon.
If you are struggling with the transition into parenthood then click here for information and support.