SARAH MACONACHIE

WORK HARD PARENT HARD

Becoming a mother is often portrayed as a joyous and fulfilling experience. When we decide it’s time to have a baby, we can’t wait to hold them in our arms and experience the overwhelming feeling of love so many are told about (which is not true btw, this blob gets dumped on you and you spend a bit of time thinking who are you- and how am I now completely responsible for you- then the love comes but it can take some time to grow). We are usually focused on being a mother and what life will be like with our new little baby.

What many people fail to recognise is the profound psychological transformation that accompanies motherhood. This transformation is known as matrescence, and understanding it is essential for every mother’s well-being. I had no idea about the transformation I was about to go through as a person. I had always wanted to be a mother, I was so excited and motherhood came quite naturally to me. What I didn’t think about or envision was the profound effect it had on almost every aspect of my life. When a friend of mine told me about matrescene I had already been through a journey of re- defining who I was now. What did my life look like personally and professionally now I had 3 little kids in tow, what are my priorities, what do I want for my life now- everything had shifted and I needed to really re- evaluate my life.

Defining Matrescence:

Matrescence is a term that describes the psychological journey a woman undergoes when she becomes a mother. Just as adolescence marks the transition from childhood to adulthood, matrescence signifies the shift from womanhood to motherhood. It encompasses a wide range of changes, including shifts in identity, priorities, and emotions. These are huge shifts for women and some cope with it better than others, but all mothers will experience a change in themselves as they transitioned into motherhood.

Understanding the Challenges: Matrescence brings with it a unique set of challenges. As mothers navigate this transformative journey, they may experience feelings of isolation, uncertainty, and overwhelm. The pressure to meet societal expectations that we are frequently faced with during late night scrolls on social media further exacerbate these challenges, leaving many mothers feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. There is a huge amount of false portrayal of motherhood on social media and for those who are struggling with this transition it can seriously affect them. When we return to work this transition is highlighted again. What does my career look like now, is work still a priority? Can I still do my role to the best of my ability? Can I thrive in my career and still be a great mother? It is so overwhelming, and there is often very little support offered.

Impact on Mental Health: The psychological changes associated with matrescence can have a significant impact on maternal mental health. Many mothers struggle with feelings of anxiety, depression, and self-doubt during this period. Without a clear understanding of matrescence, these challenges can go unrecognised and untreated, leading to long term struggles that not only affect the mother but will also affect the whole family. When we understand this transition is provides a reason for these feelings, an explanation that many mothers long for. It removes any stigma’s associated with feeling inadequate, depressed or overwhelmed- it’s an enormous change, so understanding this can help mothers to cut themselves some slack. It doesn’t make you a bad mother, or a terrible person- it makes you a human that is going through a massive transition psychologically, emotionally and physically and you need a bit of extra support as you go through it.

Support Systems: Building strong support systems is crucial for mothers during matrescence. After I had my twins I found the transition HARD. I went to playgroup on a Thursday morning with friends and it was honestly what kept me together. They were my greatest support during that time and they have no idea just how much they saved me in that first year. Other mothers, friends and family can offer empathy, understanding and advice! I am an open book with my friends about challenges with myself and my children, and its amazing how many others are experiencing exactly the same.

Professional support, therapy, counselling and doing personal development can also help a huge amount. Understanding who this new version of you is may require some professional support. It can assist with the changes that occur to your thoughts and behaviours and enables you to adapt to the new demands in your life.

Empowerment Through Knowledge and Mindset: I have to add this in of course as it is the exact process that has completely changed my life as a mother. As I have mentioned (and if you read my other blogs you will know) I struggled after the twins. I completely lost of identity, who I was, what life now looked like, how I could have a career and be a hands on mother and I set of on a journey to rediscover myself and rebuild a new and better version of my previous self. Understanding yourself allows you to approach matrescence with resilience, optimism and with a motivation to love the new you. Working on our mindset can have a profound impact on this transition and can make this change a hell of a lot easier.

Matrescence is a transformative journey that every mother must navigate. By understanding and acknowledging this process it equips you with the expectation of what you may be faced with when you become a mother. I wish I had known what matrescence was before I had become a mother, and that I had known about it when I was going through a tough time going from one to three children. If you have faced some of the challenges I have outlined during your transition into motherhood, I provide several programs that can help to support you and redefine what life looks like now. I also work with organisations to provide support for their employees that are juggling a career and being an incredible parent. If you are a mother, know that any thoughts or feelings that have challenged you as you have transitioned into motherhood is simply the transition from womanhood to motherhood. You are incredible, you may just need some help identifying the “new you”.

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