Motherhood Changes Us All

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Source: New York Times

By Jessica Grose

The transformation we experience is ongoing and eternal.

The most memorable moment of becoming a mother often involves a single day. You give birth, or the child someone else baked inside comes into your life. It’s a before, and an after. But that first day is only the beginning of an identity shift that is ongoing and eternal. The person you are after the first year of motherhood is not the same person you are after year three, year 10 or year 40.

That’s why, in honor of Mother’s Day, we decided to look at the whole messy, glorious, complicated story of identity and motherhood.

We have short essays about how becoming a mother changed the way we look at ourselves, from our relationships to our own ambitions, as well as failure, body image and more, written by Casey Wilson, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Angela Garbes, Robin Tunney, Jennifer Weiner, Amber Tamblyn and several others. There’s a piece by Jenni Gritters about how motherhood rewires your brain, and another by Pooja Lakshmin, M.D., a perinatal psychiatrist, about how not to lose yourself when you become a parent.

During this coronavirus pandemic, it can be hard to know who we are as people, as the barriers between our public and maternal selves have collapsed in ways we never considered. But if there’s a takeaway from all of these stories, it’s that your identity as a mother isn’t fixed; it’s likely to change in ways that will surprise and maybe even delight, as you and your children grow.

Read stories of how motherhood changed us here, and share your own story with us by e-mail or on the @nytparenting Instagram. If I had to describe how motherhood changed me, I would say: I got more comfortable with chaos.

P.S. Click here to read all NYT Parenting coverage on coronavirus. Follow us on Instagram @NYTParenting. Join us on Facebook. Find us on Twitter for the latest updates. Read last week’s newsletter on why it’s OK if you’re not the “fun” parent.

P.P.S. Today’s One Thing to keep your kids occupied: virtual zoo tours. Aquariums, zoos and botanical gardens are offering webcams and other animal-focused broadcasts — “Let us help make your children’s hiatus from school fun and educational,” one zoo said about its video content.

Want More on Motherhood and Identity?

In January, Kaitlyn Greenidge wrote a beautiful essay about how she struggled to reconcile her new identity as a mother with her identity as a writer, and how she looked to artists like Toni Morrison and Grace Paley for inspiration.

Having children can make you grapple with your racial and ethnic identity in a way you never did before. We have two essays, from Norma Newton and Jami Nakamura Lin, about how they are working to imbue their kids with pride for their heritage.

What’s it like to be a new mom, dealing with an old foe, depression? Amanda Rosenberg wrote an honest and funny piece detailing her experience.

Read further and find the links

Additional reading

Happy Mother’s Day to All the Mothers of the World

When it comes to religious upbringing, mothers know the best

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