Mental Health

The Side Effects of Motherhood on Your Psyche

I have to look back at photos to prove to myself I once carried a life. Being a mother feels surreal and saying “my daughter” leaves my mouth awkwardly, as if I need more practice identifying possessions. I thought “motherhood” would be a transformative process. I envisioned it as a cleanse or a detox where I’d purge my life of all things un-motherly.

Everything I knew about motherhood made it seem like an operation of sorts that when finished, I’d automatically feel different, I’d be a different person, I would have a different mindset. After the child’s birth, a ceremony would commence where I’d be inducted into a class of women who hold more ethereal beauty than the rest.

What I didn’t know was I would remain myself and additionally have a child to raise. If I am being honest, I feel disconnected to the process of mothering 90% of the time. So my jokes of going to the corner store for milk and never returning are a real escape plot I disguise with a smile.

After giving birth, I made some emotional and physical adjustments. However, in my mind these adjustments were only temporary. I assumed I would get back to my “normal” routine in no time. Now the word “normal” brings me to a muddled state of mind; I reconsider everything I know about words like routine, normal and consistent. It bewilders me to realize I have no concept of what those words truly mean anymore in my new role. Will I ever be able to plan anything in advance again? Can I still have a personal routine independent of my child? Am I selfish for wanting to travel without my child?

Normal is now synonymous with the  “old me” or as I call it: BC ( before child) times.

Having children are permanent adjustments to who we are as parents. We are completely responsible for another human being’s life — every aspect of it, at all times. Every decision we make for ourselves is one made for our children.

Now I am not only worried about screwing my own life up with my decisions, but my child’s too now. There’s two times the amount of pressure to ensure I get things right.

Every woman in my life has made parenting look effortless, even when they were forthcoming about it truly being difficult. I’ll admit, I was naïve about what I’d be able to keep doing and what things I’d have to give up.

They teach you how to change, burp and bathe a baby. However, no one takes the time out to teach you how to manage your expectations as a new mother. No one tells you what things you should leave in the past, what things to put on hold, or what things to revisit in the future.

I didn’t know that almost two years later, I’d still be trying to “get the hang of things.” It takes 21 days to form a habit, but motherhood is the class I can’t quite master. Every time I aced one course, circumstance changes caused me to stumble and to my definition-fail. I have resigned to the idea I will be a novice at motherhood for a good portion of my child’s life.

Will I ever feel like I belong to this world again?

Will I ever be certain about anything again?

One day at a time should be all the comfort I need, but it scares me that I can only plan life one day in advance. I hate saying these things, because I feel compelled to add a disclaimer about how much I love my child.

Which yes, of course I do, with everything inside of me. However, this is not about my child; this is selfishly all about me and my clumsy transition to motherhood. This is about how life’s uncertainties give me anxiety. I have to constantly remind myself to breathe.

This all may be a side effect of being an older mother (thirty-one years old). Having a taste of life then being starved of autonomy. Or maybe it’s the outcome of being a single mother. Whichever it may be, it’s difficult losing control. I’ll get it back in a decade or so right? I know.

Growth can be uncomfortable sometimes because it is stepping into the realm of the unknown. I am fearful of failing as an individual and as a parent. I am fearful because for the first time I can’t predict my future. I am fearful because there is someone in this world I care more about than I care about myself.

If none of this makes sense to you, I’m envious. To those who understand some or all of what I’ve spoken about.. I’m here to tell you you’re not alone. We are all trying to find our new identities in the midst of parenthood. Our prospective, values, and viewpoints are ever-changing. Let us work on doing our very best each day and take comfort in knowing our babies will love us no matter what.

by ShynaeNicole

Shynae Nicole is a writer, poet, and author from Mount Vernon, NY. Her passion for storytelling and poetry are intertwined in her testimonies of self-acceptance, rejection, sexuality, and matriarchal views. Currently, Shynae is focusing on raising her daughter and publishing her next collection of work.


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