Embracing Motherhood:

Between Discovery and the Loss of Self

Marie and Julieta, who have been friends for a long time, both embraced motherhood within a close timeframe, about two and a half years ago. 

Julieta is also a psychologist with 11 years of experience, specializing in working with adults, teenagers, and children, following a Lacanian Psychoanalytic orientation. Becoming a mother is the most transformative experience. In this intimate conversation, they will blend their personal experiences with their professional knowledge and expertise to offer valuable insights on navigating the journey of motherhood.
1. First Steps as a Mother: Embracing Overwhelming Joy and New Fears

Marie: Being a mom is absolutely amazing. The love I feel for my son is unlike anything I had ever experienced. It is profound and all-encompassing, filling my heart with overwhelming joy. Every decision I make revolves around his well-being, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. Motherhood has reshaped my life and priorities, which has led me to question who I am beyond the role of a parent.

Yet, amidst the immense joy, I have also faced challenges that caught me off guard. Dealing with intrusive thoughts, constant worry, and relentless tiredness has left little room for anything else. While I pour my heart into being the best mother I can be, I find myself grappling with the loss of my individual identity.

As time goes on, I wonder if my desires and dreams are still valid or if they’ve been overshadowed by the demands of motherhood. It’s a complex journey, where I am learning to strike a balance between caring for my son and nurturing my own sense of self. Embracing this new chapter means navigating the overwhelming emotions, fears, and responsibilities that come with it, as well as rediscovering the person I am beyond being a mother.

Julieta: My son is almost two at the moment of writing this. So in a way, I am still new to this, but at least not as fresh as in the first month of my son’s life. 
I think of post-partum as a timeline where I went from being one with my baby (even with him outside in the world) to slowly getting independent from each other. In the very early days, I didn’t want to separate from him. I tried to protect him more than my own life. I wanted to hold him and be near him almost all the time. My partner and I would listen to his every breath while he slept, as new fears arose regarding his safety. 
Slowly I started to find more security in myself, the baby, and the environment to begin leaving my house without him. It seemed natural for everything to revolve around my baby during that immediate postpartum phase, as we become their source of comfort and survival, sometimes setting aside our own desires and needs temporarily.

Looking back on my experience and drawing from my professional knowledge, I now understand that each encounter with motherhood is unique and that “your normal” is the right experience for you. Motherhood manifests differently for everyone, and there’s no need to seek a definitive “right or wrong” approach. Avoid falling into the trap of conflicting advice from various sources.

My advice is to reflect on your individual journey as a mother and build upon that. You may discover areas for growth or find it fascinating to explore this significant phase of life. Alternatively, if you aren’t experiencing postpartum depression, which requires treatment, it’s perfectly fine to embrace your own way of mothering without undue pressure or comparison.

2. Motherhood and Loss of Old Self

Marie: After my son was born, and as the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, I started to feel a disconnection from the woman I used to be. The constant cycle of feedings, diaper changes, and sleepless nights left me questioning if I had somehow completely drifted away from my old self.  The passions and aspirations that once defined me seemed to fade into the background, partly overshadowed by the constant demands of caring for my child, and the lack of interest, time and energy to do anything else than being with him.

And with this came the guilt. The guilt of not doing enough to nurture the multifaceted, vibrant woman I once was, or the guilt of feeling selfish whenever I’m not giving all of my attention to my child, when I decide to take a moment for myself – struggling to find the right balance, or to understand if I’m doing things right. I even happen to wonder if my behaviour is normal, especially when other family members urge me to just relax and let go of my anxiety.

Julieta: In psychological terms, our identity (or psychic) is built in the early years, and when we are not talking about serious psychiatric diagnoses, it is impossible to “lose it.” The feeling of losing yourself has to do with encountering a vital crisis. That is occupying such an essential and new role in one’s life: mother.

This role and new identification is so time and energy-demanding that we feel we lose parts of ourselves, but psychologically speaking, we are experiencing a significant change. And all the mixed feelings we can experience during this process are all valid.

3. Rediscovering Your Identity: An Ongoing Journey

Marie: Through introspection and self-reflection, I have come to a profound realization that nurturing my own identity is not only essential for my personal well-being but also crucial for the overall happiness of my family. Embracing motherhood and letting go of my old childless life does not imply that I should let go of myself.
Indeed, becoming a mother brought about significant changes. It temporarily led me away from some activities I loved, like spontaneous outings with friends. However, on the other hand, it provided me with newfound clarity to focus on what seemed more important for the present moment. In my case, it sparked a change in my career path, finding the courage to learn web development and starting Infini with my co-founders, allowing me to align my professional pursuits with my evolving priorities as a mother.

Motherhood has become an empowering journey of rediscovery for me. It has taught me that finding a balance between my responsibilities as a parent and my personal growth is feasible even if it’s confusing, and hard.

Julieta: As mothers, it becomes crucial to eventually ponder: Where does my desire lie outside of motherhood? Is it solely focused on caring for my child, or do I yearn for something else? It’s essential to reflect on whether we want to pursue previous projects or embark on new ones. As things change, we can ask ourselves: What is possible now? How do I carve out time for myself outside of motherhood? What other roles do I care about, such as being a friend, a professional, a worker, or a partner? What aspects of being a woman motivate and move me?While these questions may momentarily slip away amidst caring for our children, our desires remain present, and we retain the capacity to connect with them, whether they are old or new aspirations. 

Motherhood can awaken unique desires and motivations, like my passion for writing a children’s book, while my original profession remains a significant part of who I am. Even as we may have less time and energy, we can still work towards making our dreams a reality.

Embrace motherhood with its new possibilities, and remember you are a unique mother, and when you do things with care and love- you are doing it right.


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