Matrescence – The process of becoming a Mother
Everyone knows that motherhood changes a woman. Yet we have lived for a hundred years as if it doesn’t, as if we are waiting to return to ‘normal’ as if becoming a mother somehow makes us less than we were – and more recently as if we are an interchangeable ‘generic’ parent.
Many Mums are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, trying to do all the things they feel they ‘ought’ to do or ‘should’ do. They are bombarded with advice and conflicting information. They know that they know what they need and they know that they know their children better than anyone else does, yet they cannot see the way to being the calm, confident, energetic and loving parent they really want to be.
It’s time to bring both the conscious knowledge and the unconscious wisdom together. Time to connect the mind and the body and to understand how to build bridges or weave a web between mothers and others.
You might not have heard of Matrescence, but I bet you have heard of Adolescence
Every part of a child’s brain and body changes through the period of adolescence.
Before any sign of puberty is visible the child’s brain starts to pour out different levels of hormones, high levels of growth hormone initiate a growth spurt (bone growth and muscle growth), and then the sex hormones kick in and there are changes in fat storage, hair follicles, skin texture, body shape – every organ of the body is affected. It is only in recent years that we have learned how much the brain changes. A pruning process occurs where neural pathways are pruned, and pathways not used are removed (most of us recognise that if we are not learning languages in our young teenage years – the capacity to learn a new language easily is seriously diminished by the time we reach adulthood).
Adolescence continues from the onset of puberty until the early 20s. These changes to both body and thinking can cause many disturbances to emotional wellbeing. Communication can be difficult as language and interpreting the wishes and thoughts of people around us can be far more difficult than it is for younger children. Let this sink in for a moment before you start to see how a mother’s brain is different again.
As in Adolescence, every part of a woman’s brain and body changes throughout Matrescence. This change starts with the recognition that she is to become a ‘mum’ and continues into the first few years of motherhood. Quite simply, Mums think differently.
We do not expect Adults to behave and think in the same way as children. We should not expect mothers to behave and think in the same way as they did as women.
Most Mums (and people around them) know that they now focus and care about different things.
The fundamental changes mean that Mums ‘see’ things differently,
- They are much more aware of their surroundings and the ‘bigger picture’.
- They find multitasking easier.
- They have a greater ability to manage challenges, doing things they could never have imagined before.
- They are driven to make some changes, for themselves and those around them.
- They have heightened emotional intelligence – are better at ‘reading’ others.
It is worth noting that both Adolescence and Matrescence can bring up feelings of anxiety and low mood. Adjusting to changes that you do not understand and you are not expecting or comfortable with is very stressful.
Understanding and being supported through this process, improves the experience for teenagers and mothers. I have observed these changes both in birth mothers and in adoptive, step and foster mothers.
See the following blogs exploring the 5 Attributes of a baby boosted brain.
If you are interested in finding out more about Matrescence and how you might help or be helped through this process – please do contact me.