The Big Stretch Of Motherhood
Motherhood is all about stretching.
Your body, your heart, your patience, your understanding, your compassion, your boundaries, and your capabilities—all stretch to accommodate the addition of fresh life you are meant to raise. The augmentation to every facet of your being sometimes feels like stretching cold muscles; it hurts. Shame and guilt lurk in corners of your mind and heart, stunting your stretch. You feel overwhelmed, sore, and tired. Yet, in the same spaces, love exists to help you remember that you are meant to expand.
At one year post-partum, I called a dear friend to honestly and vulnerably speak about my experience in motherhood. I was terrified because it was the first time I admitted that mothering wasn’t what I expected, and I was dancing with post-partum depression and anxiety. Distressing, intrusive thoughts circulated through my mind at all times, creating a consequential shame spiral that pushed happiness and joy into the distance.
She held space for me without judgment or sympathy. Rather, she opened her heart to hear my experience with compassion. Then, with the skill and tenderness of a seasoned mother, she stated, “Mama, you are growing, and growing is sometimes painful. Allow for the stretching.”
The agony of that heavy year fell away, and I was able to see, for the first time since becoming a mother, that my pain was not something to be ashamed about. Rather, it meant growth and healing.
Shame feels awful. It’s natural to look away from the source of shame to reduce overwhelm and feel better. Paradoxically, shame is also what keeps us stuck until we look at it. Until shame is held, looked at with honesty, and healed with compassion, it will keep a hook in your heart and disconnect you from experiencing the deep love and joy you deserve.
Reach out to people that can hold compassionate space for you and support your transformation because it’s love that stretches you, not shame. Allowing for love to stretch you will create more openness and space to be present and engaged as you change and grow.
Pain is an inevitable part of life. Pain is a part of all changes because, with every gain, there is a loss. Loss is painful and messy. There is grief in every loss. In motherhood, the loss of one identity and the gain of another is challenging at the least, and agonizing at the most. It takes intention, energy, and surrender to adjust to the stretch.
Breathe through the hard times.
Celebrate the joyful ones.
Surround yourself with people that support and love you.
Most of all, love yourself through the stretch – it means you are growing.
Featured Photo by Danielle Cotter