Identity is one of those aspects we build in our lifetime that is supposed to reflect who we are, our beliefs, ideas, and self-image. For a long-time women’s identity has been somehow determined by a patriarchal society, and a mental and biological conditioning. Nevertheless, in the last century women’s identity has progressively changed, becoming more diverse and bringing the chance for women to perform different roles in life and being empowered by deciding over their own bodies.
Our identity starts being determined from the moment we are born, but in the case of women, this identity tends to radically change when we become mothers. The birth of a child represents as well the birth of a mother, this is something that we tend to neglect. All the changes and challenges that women face from the moment they get pregnant shape a new identity that can overlap the identity women had before. Reproductive psychiatrist Alexandra Sacks calls the transition of becoming a mother, “matrescense”. The author explains in her website, Alexandra Sacks MD “[Matrescense] Like adolescence, it is a transitionary period. Being pregnant is like going through puberty all over again: your hormones go nuts, your hair and skin don’t behave the way you’d like, and you develop a new relationship with a body that seems to have a mind of its own. The difference? Everyone understands that adolescence is an awkward phase. But during matrescence, people expect you to be happy while you’re losing control over the way you look and feel.”
Mothers in the past didn’t really know (or didn’t talk about it openly) what it feels to have an “identity crisis” after having children. It doesn’t mean that they didn’t go through a sort of identity struggle, or the emotional and psychological effects of maternity. Women have just learned to live with that silently. But women today are more interested in strengthening their identity after becoming mothers. They are more interested about exploring, understanding, and better handling all the emotional changes derived from motherhood. In other words, nowadays women are more interested in having a personal identity, while being mothers.
Before ending this article, dear reader, I want to leave you with some final thoughts. If you are a mother already, think about how much of your personal dreams and expectations you have given up, because you are a mother. You may conclude that maternity well deserves the sacrifice and feel proud of adopting the full maternity identity. Or perhaps you are a mother who decided to keep up with your individual goals and feels that by doing this, you are also setting a good example for your children. Or perhaps you are like me, a woman without children that hopes to be a mother one day, but would love to continue having a solid personal identity. Regardless of your maternity vision, remember that when you have a child, you are born again as a mother, and as you explore the nuances of this new cycle in life, you deserve as much information, self-care and help as you can get. I would also recommend this fantastic article from Alexandra Sacks, “A Birth of a Mother”