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Matrescence: A Transition Into Motherhood

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

I would like to think that labour and birth was the easy puzzle in the grand scheme of parenthood. After the birth of Larah, my now two year old daughter, a very spirited child, I didn’t think that it would be tough to take on this new role as a Mother. Boy, was I so wrong. I found myself crying so much in the first few weeks (I still do at times now!), not knowing what to do, feeling like I wasn’t a good enough Mother to her. Thinking that, “hey, I am supposed to know how to be a Mother, how is that I am finding this so hard”. The icing on the cake was when the attention shifted all to my baby. It was as though that pregnant lady whom everyone was so concerned over, didn’t seem to exist anymore. I felt unloved and uncared for. I found it really hard and there were so many times when I wished I didn’t have this baby. No one told me that it wasn’t all rainbows and ponies, it was crying, sleepless nights, poop explosions, a crazy identity shift and a huge change in my relationship.

When I went back to work, it was expected of me to be a Mother, a wife and a working parent. I had to juggle all these hats and I felt suffocated. In the essence of being a Mother, I lost myself and I had no idea what I was experiencing. Then I came across this word, “Matrescence” and it opened the way I looked at Motherhood.

The term “Matrescence” was introduced by Dana Raphael, an anthropologist in the 1970s. It describes beautifully the transition from a Maiden to Mother. Just like pubescent transitions to adolescence, where a teenager gradually enters adulthood. Matrescence describes a woman’s transition into motherhood, a quick shift that comes with psychological and physical changes.

Often, we are expected to know how to be a Mother, to juggle all aspects of our life. We are expected to “keep it together”. We are not given time to to honour this immense change and process this new shift. Just as babies need care and attention, so does a Mother. This transition to Motherhood should be recognised, protected and celebrated with support and love.

So, it is okay not to know how to be a Mother. Just as how it took you however many years to be the person you are today, it takes time to embody this role. You do not have to feel guilty for wanting time to yourself or for wanting to turn back the clock before baby. It is important to acknowledge these feelings, accept them and make room for growth.

I cannot stress enough how much new parents need that love, care, attention and affection as much as a newborn baby. So let’s start with ourselves, be kind and compassionate… and let that ripple out as we give love to others.

With love & gratitude,

Chantel Kismet

Parenthood | Motherhood | Birth | Postpartum | Self-Care

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