I remember the weekend like it was yesterday.
It was cold, for July, and I was writing so frantically in my journal that I had forgotten to collect firewood and light the fire. The sweat from my afternoon hike cooled my skin as it dried and I began to shiver.
It was my first solo camping weekend in a really long time – at least as long as the time I had known my husband. I had to go. I had to claim the time to myself.
I was thirteen weeks pregnant with my first child, and I had to claim everything that was Myself, before, I was certain, it was about to get washed away in a tide of dirty diapers and breastmilk.
He was away at a weekend volleyball tournament with a crew of very young, very child-less bikini-clad women. Well, half of them were. There were men there, but all I could think of was the idea of becoming a frumpy, stretch-mark-ridden Mom, and leaving behind my days of being child-less, and, while hardly ever bikini-clad, definitely carefree, adventurous, interesting.
I felt really, really, scared. In those early weeks, motherhood actually felt like impending doom. I felt the heaviness of what I’ve now come to see as our society’s disrespect and disregard for Mothers. I wore that disrespect like a fated cloak: my life and my conceptualization of myself as a world-travelling scuba instructor were over.
I couldn’t see, at the time, that I was preparing to embark on the bravest adventure of my life.
At the time, it just felt like every piece of my identity that I valued – and yes, clung to – was about to teeter off the precipice of Motherhood, never to be seen again.
And here’s the thing.
No, this is not a story where everything turned out Okay In The End, where my fears were all for nought.
My fears came true.
I learned, as every Mother does, that one of the greatest feats of Motherhood is the surrender of Self, of the conceptualization of your Self that served you in your Maidenhood.
You see, when we become Mothers, we need to make way for what is possible for our new lives. We need to make way for the fiercest love possible, for finding comfort in liminal space, for a new community of women to surround us.
But so many of us are unsupported in this transition, and we see Motherhood as I first did – as the loss of Everything Cool from our lives, to make way for entirely too many episodes of Peppa Pig and to be written off by a society that cannot see that Mothers are to be revered and honoured, not disrespected and disregarded.
When the transition to Motherhood is unsupported, many women feel completely unmoored. Lost, as they surrender their former selves but cannot conceptualize a Motherhood that they want to lean into, devoid as so many of us are of a model for how that might look.
The fears that I expressed in my journal with shaky, urgent writing that cold July night eventually evolved into what I came to call a Momifesto.
A Manifesto for my Motherhood.
A great laying-claim-to the Motherhood I desired for myself and my family. A denunciation of society’s depiction of Motherhood that I could not relate to, and a question – a hope, an intention – about what Motherhood – my motherhood – could be.
I want to be clear that my Momifesto was not about the ways in which I would abandon or deny my Motherhood in an attempt to cling to my former self. While there are aspects of that former life – like scuba diving, for instance – that slowly (oh so slowly!) returned to my life after becoming a mother, my Momifesto was about how I could claim a new identity that took what was true about my former life and brought it into Motherhood, while also creating space for what would totally shift.
What do you want to lay claim to as a Mother? What kind of Motherhood do you want to lean into? What’s on your Momifesto?
Creating a Momifesto is one of the many powerful exercises in my new online program MotherSHIFT. Want to create a Momifesto of your own? Click on the image below to download your complementary Momifesto worksheet.