When you become a mother, certain attributes are applied to you: selflessness, most obviously. But also empathy, nurturing, compassion, gentleness, calm, patience, and purity. When I surfaced in the new land where those things were law, it didn’t initially bother me. I barely noticed in my desire to keep my daughter well and soothed and loved. But over time, resistance to my new mom life has often come because of the things our culture assumes about motherhood. I am not, for instance, gentle. I’m not very patient. I don’t think anyone would describe me as calm. And I’m definitely not pure.
Those assumptions about motherhood make the shift into this new world so much harder. The truth is (and research supports this), motherhood is as big of a shift as puberty. Hormones flow, priorities shift, you change. But that change doesn’t mean you have to be a mother on society’s terms. You can be a mother on your own terms. Not everything the world thinks about mothers has to be something that you take on as who you are. Part of the new trauma of motherhood, though, is these assumptions. It’s the assumption that all you want to do is this. It’s the assumption that you have suddenly arrived at the very apex of your purpose in life. It’s the assumption that life is somehow complete since your child has joined the world.
And for you, maybe all of those things are true. Or maybe some of them are true. Or maybe none of them are true.