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We missed a brutal truth about parenthood in Adele's Grammy speech.

Motherhood has never looked so glorious.

At yesterday’s Grammys a heavily-pregnant Beyonce was worshipped like the levitating Goddess she is, while “back-to-work” mum Adele was scooping up gongs by the armful.

The English megastar deferring her win to Beyonce was the most talked about moment from the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. It was a righteous move and a very female thing to do – ‘I’m fabulous? No, you’re more fabulous!’ – and given the momentous weight of the album/movie/event that was Beyonce’s Lemonade, it was also the only thing to do.

But that wasn’t the only truth that Adele told up on that podium.

In case you missed it, she also said this:

“Five years ago, when I was last here, I also was pregnant, and I didn’t know – I found out shortly after… which was the biggest blessing of my life.

“And in my pregnancy and through becoming a mother I lost a lot of myself and I struggled, and I still do struggle being a mum, it’s really hard. But tonight winning this kind feels like I’ve come full circle and like a bit of me has come back to myself.”

Yes. Adele. Just yes. And welcome back.

If you are not a mother, or if you are a mother who feels like that is the only role you were born to play, you might be wondering how a rich and successful woman like Adele could possibly have struggled – or still struggle – with the double blessing of talent and parenthood.

But for anyone who has ever given birth, taken that tiny person home, dedicated themselves whole-heartedly to keeping them alive, then looked in the mirror and said, ‘Who IS that?’ these words will tinkle with truth.

Because what we can’t see from down in the cheap seats is that pregnancy – even if you’re doing it in a gown made of fairy wings with a choreographed army of followers – is a long, slow exercise in giving yourself over to another.

You are sharing everything you eat, drink, think and dream with a tiny stranger – or two, or three – and from the moment you feel that being moving inside you, you realise it will never be entirely about you ever again.

Adele during The 59th GRAMMY Awards in Los Angeles, California. (Photo via Getty)
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It’s wonderful, magical and terrifying. Because for a lot of women it begins a whole new process of trying to figure out who you are when you are no longer just You. Who are you on the other side?

You feel like your old self but different. To paraphrase a parenting cliché, your heart is on the outside now. Wearing your heart on the outside can make a person better, stronger, more fierce. But it can also make you vulnerable. And afraid.

The things you have spent a lifetime getting good at suddenly hold no value. What is valued is whether you can breastfeed, swaddle and cajole a tiny person into sleeping for a few hours straight.

Suddenly the things you enjoy, the things you have always done to de-stress, or to stay well - like, sleep - are seen as indulgences, luxuries.

Suddenly no one asks you what you think or how you feel anymore. All of the focus is on this other, tiny person whose desires are mysterious, and whose needs are endless.

Because the thing we value in mothers above all things is selflessness.

“Selfish” is the insult we hurl at the worst parents, the one that stings the most.

And for mothers, that’s true ten times over.

Listen to Monique Bowley and the MMOL crew discuss, heatedly, motherhood versus career.

Mothers are often made to feel selfish if they want their babies to sleep through the night. Or if they leave them in someone else's care. They are made to feel selfish if they don't want to (or can't) feed their baby on demand, wherever, whenever for a year or two. They are selfish if they go back to work "too soon".

Mix this external judgement with the internal cocktail of love and joy and exhaustion and anxiety that most new mothers are marinating in, and you can see how it's hard to keep track of yourself.

But if women abandoned their passions for parenthood and never picked them up again, what a shameful waste that would be. What a betrayal of the thing we tell our kids over and over – “You can be anything you want to be”. We don’t caveat that with, “Until you have a baby.”

As the arguments still rage on about just how “selfish” women are allowed to be in the workplace, there is value in hearing words about rediscovering yourself in your work from someone like Adele.

If women abandoned their passions for parenthood, what a shameful waste that would be (Image via Getty)
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Most of us are not creating car-crying anthems for women all over the world. Most of us are not collecting awards and accolades by the armful and having the Goddess Beyonce mouth ‘I love you’ to us across Rihanna’s head.

Most of us are slogging away at something smaller, something quieter.

We’re trying to build a life we can be happy in, that we can be proud of. That our kids can walk through securely, without feeling the weight of our sacrifice on their shoulders.

As Adele says, it’s hard. It’s a struggle.

But the rewards are enormous.

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