I interact with pregnant and new mothers on an almost daily basis. There are so many concerns tied up with the childbearing year, and it can be hard to discern which is the primary one. But one concern I hear almost every day is: “I don’t feel productive.”
The more I hear this and the farther away I get from mothering young-uns, the more surprised I am at these words.
Our Western Culture idolizes productivity. In our western mindset, productivity is the cardinal sign of independence and worth. I continually found myself as a mother of four young children feeling less productive in my personal endeavours than I “should” have been if only……
If only what? I wasn’t nourishing Family? I wasn’t shaping young individuals to be kind, conscious human beings? The insidious archetype of Super Mom continually pokes us with her perfectly manicured nails to DO more in order to BE more. Will it only be when we have achieved every impossible goal on our endless “to do” list that we will feel an authentic moment of peace and shining self worth? Is this what it has come to?
When you are pregnant your brain waves alter, drawing you into an ocean of deeper “feeling”. You are being asked to have greater body/emotional awareness in order to respond to your instincts and challenges as a grower and carrier of another life. It is great big and awe-some work in and of itself.
As a new mother, the pressure to conform to cultural expectations about infant sleep, diapering, weight gain, discipline, feeding methods, and working was overwhelming. Rarely did I ever feel like I was doing something “right”. I either felt too passive or too harsh in my parenting approach, and failed to trust myself. There was also that underlying current of “I’m not getting enough done” which filled me with shame because I wanted to study instead of clean if I had down time, or in exhaustion would just watch tv while the baby napped on me. Needless to say, this working/studying mama of four had a VERY messy house. And I beat myself up for it every day as if it were my grand failing.
What if we could reframe what it means to be productive in the childbearing year and in early parenting? What if we could love and approve of ourselves in every moment we look around at the chaos, and feel the truth of how we have probably never been MORE productive? What if every day we could, while experiencing episodic brain farts in the board room, caress our big bellies, bless our softer minds preparing to bond, love, and feel, and recognize the fact that our bodies are using tremendous energy to grow and produce an entire human being? Any other “highly productive” activity on top of simply being pregnant is icing on a substantial cake.
I invite us as mothers to redefine what productivity means. When we are waking every two hours at night, producing gallons of milk, keeping a little human alive, can we PLEASE pat ourselves on the back for probably being more productive than we have ever been in our lives? The very body of the mother regulates a baby’s respiration, heart beat, nutrition, and emotional development needs. And yet part of us often feels we would be MORE worthy if we could just vacuum the floor. It doesn’t seem enough that we serve as a human’s being’s ecosystem…the world seems to want to know if we can fit into our pre-pregnancy jeans too.
Let’s take a big breath now collectively and feel how worthy, how valuable, and how honourable it is as a productive member of society to take a nap when we’re pregnant and tired. Because, hello, growing a future citizen optimally over here! Or, how miraculous it is to snuggle a little one close to your breast at 4 am, your baby diapered in an old New Order band t-shirt because you didn’t get to the laundry yesterday, nourishing a young brain’s rapid development with loving connections that will result in a loving adult down the line? Breathe that in. How awesome are you RIGHT NOW?
Yes, do your life. Be the productive badass you want to be. But don’t let the icing of anything else on top of the cake of growing and parenting new LIFE knock down your self-esteem because through our cultural lens it might appear a little thin in some areas. Your cake is magnificent.
MotherWit Doula Care