Mothers are kind, warm and nurturing…
…but where did the rest of her identity go? This isn’t a fairy tale!
It’s as though the moment she accepted the title of ‘mother’, all other parts of her were stripped away.
Sexual. Wild. Deserving of pleasure?
No way – that’s not appropriate! Cover your eyes children and look the other way!
How quickly we forget that mothers are humans too.
Mothers deserve to be respected. They deserve to be loved. And they deserve to be accepted for who they are, not what society expects of them.
Society strips them bare of their identity, reduces them to nothing more than a servant; she is nothing but her child’s caregiver and nurturer – the cook, cleaner and chauffeur.
We have so many needs and desires that can’t be expressed because patriarchal society other ideas. It expects a cookie-cutter mold that every mother should fit into…
Mother is caring. Mother is loving. Mother is sensible… and if she dares to deviate from this then she is judged harshly by everyone around her.
Well, what happens when part of someone’s identity is suddenly ruptured like this?
Feelings of loss, shame, guilt and confusion!
This is a conversation rarely spoken and barely acknowledged.
So let’s start it!
Let’s start to explore how mothers can reclaim their identities and learn to fully express themselves so they can create a fulfilling life for both them, as well as their children!
Death to the old self
The moment the baby is born, everything changes.
No longer is the woman a maiden. She has become a mother. And with the new label, so many parts of her old identity are gone.
She is no longer known by her job title. No matter how far she had climbed up the corporate ladder or how esteemed she was in her career…nobody knows, for all of a sudden, she is right back at the beginning. A complete newbie on day one of the next phase of her life. She has no idea about what the future holds; how she will care for this little tiny human she holds in her hands; or how she will survive. She has earned a new label and with it comes baggage.
The way she used to dress is no more. No longer able to fit into her previous clothes, nor do they functionally fit around the never-ending feeding schedule. She now feels frumpy, daggy and as though she lives in yoga pants, sporting a mum-bun. The style she used to wear with pride now feels so foreign and unsuitable.
As the years pass, it seems her name as been forgotten – she is now only known as “Mum”. The diary is filled with kid’s birthday parties, playdates and a never-ending array of after-school activities. There’s no such thing as a catch-up with your own friends anymore, and if you do finally manage to align calendars, you need to book in month’s in advance. Spontaneity is a thing of the past!
The life she previously knew is gone and it’s a startling reality that she is still not ready for.
She mourns the sudden loss of her old life and the death of her previous self.
Too taboo for motherhood
As she starts to accept her new role as ‘mother’, she begins to realise the restrictions in place from society.
Who is ‘mother’?
What does she wear? How does she act? What does she say?
How should she be showing up in the world?
According to society…sensible, confined and boring.
‘Mother’ according to society is “Plain Jane”. And if she dares to move beyond the expected mold of what a ‘good mother’ is, then it comes with consequences and labels such as shame and guilt…or inappropriate.
Although she had desires and a healthy attitude towards all aspects of life, suddenly sensuality and sexuality are considered too taboo. To be free, untamed and authentic in every cell of her body is just too much.
So as a consequence, she starts to shrink.
She starts to dull her light.
Tone down every part of her being until she fits inside the neat little box that society demands.
She is now hiding behind a mask of her false self, too afraid to show the world who she really is because doing so is “unsafe”.
And at our core, what we all crave, is being safe.
Living life as a part instead of a whole
On the outside, what may appear as a perfectly polite, happy and functional woman, is instead operating in her wounded feminine as she tries to be the ‘perfect mother’.
She is operating as her false self; repressing feelings and behaviours which would otherwise come naturally to her, so she can survive.
Over time, her true thoughts, feelings and desires are pushed further and further inside, until they seemingly no longer matter. All that is left is her false self, now dominating over her life.
Living life in parts instead of a whole creates a gap and a sense of something missing. This is not healthy and the psychological issues associated with this run deep and can take years of healing to address.
The body is a vessel and is clever at pushing down emotions, pain and memories in order to keep it safe. But these emotions are actually required and must be embraced to help us face our realities and truly live.
When intense emotions such as anxiety, fear, sadness and panic are bottled up, they become a ticking timebomb just waiting to explode. The body holds these memories of dis-ease and if not expressed in a healthy way, can lead to discomfort or illness (aka disease).
When we’re unable to embrace all parts of our being, qualities such as compassion, patience and calm start to wane within our daily lives.
As a mother, it can be particularly challenging trying to piece everything together whilst sleep-deprived and feeling constrained in how she can be. It’s no wonder she is plagued with feelings of everything just being too hard and simply wishing for your old life back!
Imprinting this has upon children
When we, as mothers, are unable to be our true selves and instead operate in a false persona that doesn’t feel authentic or aligned with who we are at our core, it sends a powerful message to our children.
We are telling them that they cannot be themselves either – that they need to tone down their light, hide their feelings and act within the confines of what is expected of them.
This can create huge insecurity in children and leads to a life-long struggle trying to find out “who am I?” and “am I good enough?”.
It is simply perpetuating the mother wound which has been passed down to us.
Instead, it is vital for mothers (and all parents) to show up authentically in order for children to develop an accurate sense of self-worth and learn how to trust their instincts.
When children grow up in a relationship with their parents that is founded on authenticity and connection, they develop the courage to be themselves, which serves them well into adulthood (and begins to break the cycle).
Integrating whole of self
As mothers, it is so important that we take the time to integrate all aspects of our being – including our sensuality and sexuality and anything else that makes us, us (no matter how much society turns its nose up at it!). Being fully expressed in this way allows us to be confident in who we are, sending the message to our children that it’s ok for them to do the same.
Embodying who you are and blocking out negative opinions and judgements isn’t easy and isn’t something that occurs overnight. It involves doing the inner work to remove triggers, release past traumas and build your confidence.
But it is so worth it!
When we can finally be ourselves, we open up the possibility of connection and love in ways that were previously unavailable to us.
We allow our children to see a fuller picture of who we are – warts and all – and this helps them to develop an accurate sense of self-worth too. They learn that it’s ok to be themselves, no matter what society says.
And isn’t that what we want for our children? A life full of authenticity and joy?
I know that’s what I want for mine!