By Stephanie Miranda Jhala
Social Media lied to me about Motherhood. I couldn’t wait for my 1 year “vacation” called mat leave. I’d have three gourmet organic meals on the table every day, the house would be an immaculate haven. I’d be dressing myself and my little one up in flowy floral dresses, frolicking in fields of wheat with sunbeams piercing through my perfectly curled hair. We’d be rolling around on the ground, giggling, so in love.
My first year postpartum was nothing like that. I struggled. A lot.
I deeply mourned the loss of my identity. Before being a mother, I was doing something important, I was “saving the world”. As a Social Impact Leadership & Business Coach, I measured my worth and progress in life by my title, my job description, how much I made in a paycheck, the projects I accomplished. And then all of a sudden, those metrics, that societal measuring stick was striped away. I was up day, and night, no paycheck, no promotions, no praise, no fancy title. Cleaning poopy diapers and spit up, I felt like I’d been “demoted”. I didn’t want to be “just a mom”. On top of that, I had no idea HOW MUCH work a tiny little human would be. She cried a lot. I could never put her down, I felt trapped by my own baby. I could barely feed or shower myself. The days felt so long, and even though I was doing so much for my baby, I felt like I was getting “nothing done”. Just getting out of the house felt like an uphill battle. The days and nights melted together, and being home alone, in the four walls of my apartment, trying to “do it all”, I felt desperately lonely and isolated, waiting at the door like a sad little puppy dog, for my husband to get home.
Was I crazy? Was I the only one feeling this way? I thought Motherhood was supposed to be the most magical time of my life. With so many people posting cute, smiley baby photos online, I felt like I was failing. But I was wrong. Society failed me.
80% of mothers experience the baby blues. EIGHTY PERCENT. How could this be? Why was this happening? I had no idea that raising a child was not a solo job. You know the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well it TRULY takes a village. But when we live in a village-less society, the workload (cooking, cleaning, groceries, emotional support, physical support) that is supposed to be shared with a tribe of people (your village), falls on the shoulders of mostly the mother (or the main caregiver). Today, being a mother is 2.5 full time jobs with the average mom logging 98 hours per week “mothering”! If we were to get paid, we’d earn close to $200K per year (think about it: day, night, weekends, holidays, overtime), and that doesn’t even factor in the unconditional love and safety, critical to growing a happy and healthy human. We’ve grown up in Western society learning to be independent, to be self-sufficient, to do-it-yourself. And this can serve us really well in many ways, until you actually need the help. When asking for help is seen as “weak” or “burdening”, we often don’t know to ask, or don’t ask at all. Our village probably used to consist of older kids taking care of younger kids, Aunties and Uncles sharing the child care, women mothering the mothers, grandparents in arms reach, food always on the stove, non-mothers helping mothers. But now a days, with society putting so much value and pressure on “working hard” and “working more”, even non-mothers are too busy to support, making the transition to motherhood that much more shocking because we’ve lost that village-mentality and exposure to neighborhoods raising children. And then add in identity crisis and sleep deprivation (a torture tactic in many places), of course eighty percent of women would experience this transition as one of the hardest times of their lives.
But out of this struggle, how could we leverage this challenge as one of the most incredible transformations of a woman: the birth of a mother. And so I started gathering women for some real talk. To my surprise, everyone could relate to my story in some shape or form. And as we started sharing our journeys, we released our struggles and reclaimed the honour, joy and importance of motherhood. I mean, we are only just raising the entire future and foundation of humanity. That is a big deal. And birthing a baby, no matter how your birth went, THAT is a super power. “If I want society to value me, then I have to first value myself as a mother”. We shed diminishing stories about being “just a mom”, and reclaim the monumental importance of our roles and build an empowered identity. We release mom guilt and mother with confidence. We reframe our “accomplishments” and know that who we are being and what we are doing as mothers is worth celebrating and acknowledging. We learn how to speak our voice, truth, and needs in order to build a village and commit to self-care. We get present to how motherhood has and is expanding our greatness, our patience, our connectedness, our love, our compassion, our empathy, our fierceness. We connect deeply with other mothers through the power of authenticity and community. Now, I have emerged as more powerful, more confident, more beautiful than I ever have before.
And so All The Mama Feels was born. Over 300+ mothers have been to a life-altering gathering, workshop, or event, and we intend to take this movement global. If you are ready to create an empowered motherhood, share your journey here, and we will get in touch with you about our Global Mother’s Movement launching January 2019. If you already are empowered in motherhood, be a beacon of light and inspiration, and allow your community to celebrate you!
We are all in this together. You are not alone. And you are magic.
“My name is Steph and motherhood whooped my butt.”
After experiencing one of the most rewarding yet challenging transformation, Steph Jhala now uses her leadership coaching skills to empower women in their motherhood journey through @allthemamafeels. She is passionate about enabling mothers to know themselves as one of the most important contributors to humanity, elevating women to positions of power and influence to close the gender gap and restore balance on the planet.
For inspiration: @allthemamafeels on Instagram
For support: Private Facebook Group
For more info: www.allthemamafeels.com