When I came across the word matrescence it was like someone finally gave me a working compass and I have not been able to stop thinking and talking about it ever since. It spoke to so many of the conversations I’d been having with other mamas and my own soul-searching. Having this understanding empowered me to take the next leap forward that I needed, with a lot less guilt and shame, greater authenticity, and compassion for myself and my family (of course I’m still working on it but it’s a definite improvement). I am continually shocked by how much of a need there is to spread the word and support each other through this knowing.
This is why I started - Mapping Matrescence.
So what exactly is Matrescence?
Matrescence is the profound yet unique transformation we undergo as women when we become mothers. The term was first coined by anthropologist Dana Raphael in the 1970s (who also popularized Doula), but the world was not quite ready. Thankfully it has been revived more recently by Dr Aurelie Athan and Dr Alexandra Sacks (if you haven’t seen this TED talk yet, watch it – now!).
"The exact length of matrescence is individual, recurs with each child, and may arguably last a lifetime! The scope of the changes encompass multiple domains --bio-psycho-social-political-spiritual-- and can be likened to the developmental push of adolescence." Aurelie Athan, P.hD
Without the understanding and framework of matrescence, we are abandoning mothers
Matrescence sounds like adolescence for good reason – the hormones, not recognizing your own body, ALL the feels, utter confusion about how to relate to the world, who you are, or even want to be. Oh and all whilst taking care of a new baby, your home, relationship, career, and being told to cherish every minute.
We need to be thinking and talking about the developmental transition to motherhood with the same significance as adolescence. Imagine a world where we design services, build workplaces, write policy, and support one another, with the understanding and compassion that is given to teenagers navigating these kinds of changes.