It was a wise woman who once said, “motherhood changes you, and you’d be a fool to pretend it didn’t.” Okay, actually, it was just a woman at work, but it really hit me because I didn’t expect that fundamental difference to be acknowledged at work.
Becoming a mother, especially with the first child, can operate kind of like a black hole. Allow me to explain.
The path to motherhood and the experience is a little different for each woman. That is part of the magic that makes it such an intimate and personal experience. But there are also some things that every mother goes through on some basic level, and the differences have more to do with the impact than the existence of that experience. Without a doubt, the biggest whammy that most women never see coming (besides childbirth, of course) is the identity transformation that necessarily goes along with becoming a mother.
Whatever a woman anticipates or encounters in motherhood, one thing is certain, there is an adjustment. And in my humble opinion, women are good at adjusting. It is where that adjustment crosses the line and becomes a complete reorientation of the self that the identity vacuum begins to take over. The bottom line is that most of us don’t see it coming until we are already knee deep in because the first couple of months with a newborn are about surviving, not contemplating life. Once the survival mode starts switching to a rhythm, that’s when mommy either has a rude awakening or she gets sucked completely in to the baby black hole.
I first recognized the baby black hole when, at eight weeks postpartum, my husband took the baby from my arms and said, “I think you should take an hour and go do something for yourself.” Great idea, right!?! Only, I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to figure out what on earth I wanted to do. He gave me a completely open hall pass to go do whatever I wanted, and I couldn’t come up with even one thing? Finally, seeing my dilemma, my mother suggested a pedicure. Perfect! So I got in the car and as I drove away an overwhelming, involuntary sense of doom overtook me. I focused on the road and I stayed on mission. Pedicure.