Those of you who have been following The 52 Weeks of Motherhood Project must have noticed by now that I’ve been on hiatus, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about why I began this project, how it has evolved, and where I’d like to see it go. I’ve actually been reading more about motherhood than ever before. Most of what I’ve been reading have been texts that look at motherhood through a feminist lens. The books that ask the hard questions like,
What is the difference between motherhood and mothering?
Where does my personal identity fit within the cultural ideas of motherhood?
How am I limited by motherhood?
How does motherhood expand my sense of self and the limits of my life?
Whether we recognize it or not, the word motherhood carries a lot of cultural baggage. It is a space that we enter as soon as we become pregnant and we are “required” to change our lives, our sense of self, and rearrange our identities and priorities. Entering motherhood signals a true upheaval, and one that often leads to a sense of isolation, joy, frustration, wonderment, confusion, and everything in between.
When a person enters motherhood, other people often believe that they now get a free pass to judge, blame, advise, scold, patronize, and assume. There are so many assumptions about what being a mother means, that often the individual behind the title is stripped of her own identity.
And here I come to the true motivator of this project: I want to help give a voice to women, to allow women to tell a piece of their story about what it’s like to be a mother, what it’s like to mother, what it’s like to experience motherhood.
Here’s one snapshot of motherhood, written by a friend and previous client of mine, from when she was 25 weeks pregnant. I love her story because it shows how our interactions with the world change once we become pregnant. We get those little smiles and glances from people everyday and connect with strangers in ways that we probably never did before.
Here is Mariana’s week 25:
“It started with a very proper looking business man on a warm spring day. He was walking briskly, but took a quick, furtive glance at my midsection as we passed each other on the sidewalk. Then he looked away, but the reflection I saw on his face, an almost imperceptible smile, made me reflexively look down to check that my fly was zipped.
Of course, I wasn’t wearing pants with a fly; I was 25 weeks pregnant. Just as the melting snow bared shoots promising blossoms, the shedding of my winter layers brought out my budding belly for all to see. I smiled to myself as I realized this was what the businessman had noticed, and sort-of smiled at.
At the sweet spot of the second trimester, I loved my rounding belly and loved feeling my baby kick. On a spring break trip to California, I let my belly bask in the sun, and wondered whether he or she could notice the brightness. I ate ice cream for both of us, and chose fabrics for the nursery pillows. Having always been a private person, I was surprised that I didn’t mind strangers noticing and commenting on my bump. Sweet words and smiling eyes were a constant reminder that I was on a special journey this spring. Something beautiful was around the corner.”
I’d love to hear about your experience of motherhood! Send your snapshot to firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch up with past stories here.