Birth and Motherhood are rites of passages. We don’t have many that we hold sacred in our culture, and I think the mere idea of the journey into motherhood as being a rite of passage makes women uncomfortable. It’s the unknown. It’s unfamiliar. In some ways, it’s uncontrollable. And some times we’re too busy to even stop and acknowledge that it is going on. It does go on whether we take time to notice, are in denial, or try to push it away. The passage into motherhood happens…no matter what.
During a rite of passage, a part of ourselves die. Yes, dies. It’s weird to put the two together, but that is what happens in a rite of passage. Our maiden woman self has to shed its skin so to speak. We die to that part of us. In the throne room of birth, we realize our vulnerability, our challenges, and our strengths. In those moments, we have to let go of certain things, so we can fully become mothers. Whether they are changes in our social life, our personal life, our relationships, we have to reevaluate them as mothers. Then, the rebirth happens. We are born as mothers! We try new things on like making new friends, change in careers, and learning how to care for our new baby.
We are told by our culture that by 6 – 12 weeks postpartum we should have it together. Most of us don’t. We’re still not sleeping. How can we fully embrace what it means to be a mother in such a short period of time? I believe it truly does take a good year or more before we come to life in our new mother selves. It takes time to sort through what is good for us and how to move forward in our lives as we’re balancing diaper changes, feedings, and a new family member among everything else we’ve always done.
I always tell families “Be Gentle With Yourselves” as you are weaving your way into your new self. That’s the kindest thing to do for yourself and your family. Acknowledge the transformation. Walk, crawl, and hold onto others as you make your way through the passage. Allow yourself to make it sacred. And be there for other moms as they figure it out too. At some point, a new mother becomes the wise ancestor, and she can reach out her hand to the ones who are fresh and raw on their own journey.