The Fear of Motherhood
Words By. Jackie Leonard
For nearly two years, I’ve wrestled with the concept of becoming a mother.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to the following:
Of feeling as though becoming a mother makes me less of a woman.
Of believing that I’ve lost a part of myself to motherhood.
Of giving into the shame of not doing things the way I think I’m supposed to do them.
Of missing the old life, while being completely and utterly in love with my child.
Of fighting the changes I’ve gone through that feel out of my control.
Of ignoring unresolved traumas and pain.
Of silencing my own voice.
Of pushing away my partner.
Of succumbing to jealousy, competition, judgment, and ignorance while still feeling vulnerable, unheard, ignored, and hurt and critical when these very actions are directed toward me by others.
I wanted so badly to prove to the world, but really mostly to myself, that I was not going to let motherhood define me. I was okay with the notion that it may change me a little bit, but I was going to regulate, control, how much. I was not going to become one of those moms. Which again is an outlook and perspective that contradicted what I was really trying to achieve by creating a magazine, a community, a supportive, inclusive, open, honest, welcoming, progressive, activist space.
By resisting what I had become, I was inevitably giving into a form of self-hate and it was making me spiral. The more I kicked against the current, the more tired, listless and full of self-doubt I became. I gave away my power.
And then, something funny happened.
I became a mother.
It didn’t happen in an instant -- the way I’d expected. I wasn’t hit with an incredible wash of love. It took months, maybe even more than a year, but it hit me one day, this sense of power.
The best kind. Not control over another, or an overwhelming physical force. A familiar energy. One that was there for a long time and that I took for granted. The rawness of those early postpartum days was a marked reminder that I was entering a new chapter. I too was born.
The vulnerability of parenting, the intimacy of motherhood, the fragility of life and love is powerful.
There is strength in seeing yourself with fresh eyes. In being forced to challenge yourself after spending years being comfortable.
Now that I’ve scaled something with this little human being, grew him in my body, birthed and nurtured him earthside, and already taught so many things, I feel invincible.
But like my newborn son, I too am new. I too need someone to help me grow, to keep me living, to teach me new things. If becoming a mother has the capacity to make me feel like less of a woman, it is only because I tried to master this new life without a community of women surrounding me.
Admitting the above – that becoming a mother, in my eyes, diminished me, my worth, and the strong, independent, forward-thinking person I worked so hard to become – only reinforces the need for unity among women. Because if I feel this way, there has to be another woman out there who does. And that means there’s work to be done, but it also means there is potential for such power.
Jackie Leonard is the founder and editor of the Motherscope, an online magazine and community featuring contributor essays and interviews that promote women-centered endeavors and issues. Jackie has an MFA in Creative Writing and has worked as editor for multiple college and literary publications. She lives in San Diego with her husband and son.
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