Grieving and celebrating motherhood

I was supposed to just write some thoughts on parenting to my Instagram story. But it sorta got out of hands so I’ll publish it here.

I usually write my blog in Finnish and my IG stories in English, so that’s why this is English.

The answer is to a question I stumbled upon in someone else’s IG story:

It says:

”Question for mothers. Did any of you grieve the shift from existing in the world as your own woman and into our role as a mother?”

I didn’t. I still exist in the world as my own woman. To my child I am their mother. If other people see me only as a mother, those are not my people.

I didn’t change as a person in the sense I’m someone completely new. I have some new habits alongside my old ones. My priorities have shifted – but that happened according to who I’ve always been as a person. I didn’t suddenly change to be someone unrecognisable. I’m still me.

What did happen is that I’m more now. Being a mother is a new role alongside my previous roles: activist, friend, feminist, performer, writer, daughter, sister, employer, employee etc.

Being a mother is, indeed, the predominant role from now on, but never alone that.

Im not only a mother, I’m an activist mother. I’m not only a performer, from now on being a mother brings new practical issues to performing as well as new points of view to what I do and say on stage. Do you know what I mean?

What is difficult is making others understand that from now on everything I do or say is NOT due to motherhood.

Any changes in the way I act or the things I do, or even small things like what I eat or wear, a lot will have nothing to do with being a mother and some will have everything to do with it.

However I do not own anyone explanations of what is or isn’t because of me being a mother, but I’m afraid (and already there are examples of this happening) people believe they are entitled to both defining me and defining my deeds around or due to motherhood.

I might grieve some details. I can’t go out and sit with my friends at the terrace drinking jaloviina until 2am and then go dancing until 5am – not yet at least and not just like that without planning ahead. But can it still happen? Fuck yes.

I miss, for now, that I’m not able to be spontaneous the same way as before – which doesn’t mean I can’t be spontaneous now, but just not in the same way. And then I can’t say that my spontaneity has been exactly the same for the past 20 years. I’m still the same person, but with much more experience, knowledge, all the wisdom I can take using my hindsight, all of it. And now I can add something new to me: motherhood.

So I don’t think there is anything, in my case, to grieve. Just to celebrate. And I will celebrate, have a motherhood party, as soon as I can.

NEVERTHELESS.

I do feel very strongly that while this is MY EXPERIENCE, it is not EVERYONE’S EXPERIENCE.

I understand that there are a lot of people out there, mostly women, who feel the pressure to become new saint-like perfect figures of motherhood and who constantly hear about this and suffer from this pressure, these demands that are as absurd as they are harmful. People are not subtle when it comes to telling parents but specially mothers what they should do, think and feel. I mean people literally will say shit like “you must be very happy” which is totally fine if said parent is happy, but what if you just said that to someone suffering from postpartum depression? Or a parent struggling with financial issues so bad, it sucks the joy out of everything, including parenting? Or the young mother of a newborn, someone who dreamed what perfection and pure love it would be, only to be harassed and disrespected during childbirth, or who’s baby keeps them awake at night every night, or who despite all their efforts is unable to breastfeed (and is shamed for “giving up” and using formula), or who hasn’t formed that connection to their baby yet and because of that feels like a failure?

You must be very happy. And yet so many aren’t JUST and ONLY happy. They are happy and sad. Happy and stressed. Happy and depressed. Happy and so, so afraid. And there MUST be room for parents expressing all those feelings outside happiness

And finally there are all the parents who change so much if not everything about themselves and their lives to become what they have thought and even dreamed of what parenting is like. And that is totally fine too. It is always ALWAYS fine when people go after their dreams. The closest people are to what they dreamt to once become, the more authentic they are, as Agrado put it in Todo sobre mi madre.

Parenting and in my case motherhood I celebrate, I don’t feel like grieving. But as always: I grieve this society where there is no security or freedom to be the kind of parents each of us aspire to be according to our own values. The best ones for our children.