parent opinion

'Loneliness, overwhelm, boredom: Being a mum looks different in 2021.'

'Matrescence' is a term that was devised by the anthropologist Dana Raphael. 

It refers to the monumental metamorphosis women go through during the transition to motherhood.  

She draws similarities to adolescence, when hormones are pulsing through our bodies, leaving us full of unrest. 

Watch: Be a "good" mum. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia.

However, motherhood is not commonly recognised as a transitory period in the same way adolescence is, which can leave new mothers feeling isolated in their (often very normal) struggles. 

When we become pregnant, we go through physical, emotional and social changes. We essentially become a new version of ourselves.  

This matrescence – the 'becoming' of motherhood – is painful, terrifying and beautiful.

The role of 'mother' is a journey that takes us through some extremely hard moments, but ultimately makes us stronger. We grow strong in places we didn’t even know existed. 

We vomit daily for months. We have restless legs and sleepless nights. We lumber, heavy with our beloved child. We carry big babies, small babies, sick babies, twins. 

We labour. Labour through pain, fear, vaginal births and c-sections. We have needles in our spines. We are terrified but we try to be brave. We finally understand the meaning of mind-bending pain.

We sit in the darkness feeding a sweet suckling newborn, when it feels like the rest of the world is sleeping. We lay awake at night and worry so much for our babies that we cry.

We push prams, heavy with reclined toddlers and squawking newborns, in driving wind and rain, in 40-degree heatwaves.

We lean over cots to shoosh, pat and console, even though our backs ache with the repeated effort. We build up the arm on our dominant side, lugging our babies around when they cling to us, hour after hour, day after day.

On this episode of Me After You, host Laura Byrne speaks to Narelda Jacobs, Teresa Palmer and more mums about raising kids and what their 'village' looks like. Post continues below.

We shower with earnest little noses pressed up against the steamy glass. We work from the kitchen bench with babies fussing and climbing our legs. We eat crusts off highchair trays and drink cold cups of tea.

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We stay home with our babies. We build towers from blocks and sing nursery rhymes. We are lonely; we are grateful.

We drop our babies at daycare and ugly cry in the car on the way to work, then fix our makeup and kick corporate arse all day.

Image: Supplied 

We carry on. Through anxiety, depression, infertility, illness and miscarriages. We give kisses and cuddles, we fix boo boos and ouchies, we give, give, give, even when we feel like we’re empty.

We make sacrifice after sacrifice, but we learn that what we’re getting in return is something greater than we’d imagined.

We dig deep. We find strength, we find resilience, we find humour. We find that we’re better than we ever realised.

And here we are now, faced with another of life’s curveballs: mothering through a pandemic and multiple lockdowns. 

We find ourselves staring into the eyes of a newborn that our loved ones haven’t met. We feel the dull ache of loneliness, the panic of overwhelm and the haze of boredom. We put on our makeup and cry it off by 10am.

We are mothers who need to be mothered. But we carry on.

Image: Supplied 

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We play silly games, have backyard picnics in the sun, splash in puddles on rainy afternoons. We stay up late, clinging to silence and solitude.

We home-school uncooperative children. We sharpen pencils, wipe benches and bums, continue with our day jobs. We have make-do date nights with our partner on the couch. Day after day, we entertain, teach, work, clean and love – rinse and repeat.

We dig deeper than we ever thought was possible. We fall, but then rise again like a phoenix from the ashes. 

So when you doubt yourself, just remember this: sometimes, we may feel as though we can’t go on. But we can. 

As mothers, we crumble and rebuild ourselves daily. We are motherhood in motion, ebbing and flowing like a river. 

And while we don’t know what’s around the bend, we know it’s nothing we can’t handle.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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