This is the ‘invisibility of motherhood’—and it starts long before actually having kids
Ask any number of mothers their thoughts on motherhood, and many of them will tell you the same thing: I feel invisible since becoming a mom. I just want to be seen and heard.
The invisibility of motherhood doesn’t start only after you become a mother. It starts well before then.
The invisibility of motherhood starts with the assumption that women want to get married and when they do, they surrender their last name to take on their husband’s.
The invisibility of motherhood is getting asked, “So, when are you going to start having children?” A question imbued with the assumption that every woman wants to and can become a mother.
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The invisibility of motherhood is a legislation that determines when a woman can have an abortion without giving any consideration to what happens once that child comes into the world.
The invisibility of motherhood starts with the often-hidden struggles that can come with conceiving a baby—the hidden tears, the half-smiles hiding the pain that comes anytime someone asks, “When is it your turn to have children” or “Don’t you want kids?”
The invisibility of motherhood starts with hiding a pregnancy for the first 12 weeks, not announcing a pregnancy for fear that the pregnancy ends with a loss.
Many choose to keep quiet at a time when we need the support the most.
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The invisibility of motherhood starts with pregnancy loss spoken about in hushed tones.
The invisibility of motherhood tells women, “at least you know you can get pregnant” and “you can always try again”.
The invisibility of motherhood starts during labor and birth when a woman’s needs, wants and desires for her child’s birth can be ignored.
The invisibility of motherhood starts when we minimize a woman’s birth experience, telling her, “at least you have a healthy baby and that’s all that matters.”
The invisibility of motherhood is there when she brings her baby home, swollen, sore, exhausted and is expected to get on with it.
It’s when everyone asks, “how’s the baby?” but rarely, “how are you?”
The invisibility of motherhood is when we minimize her need for recovery, rest, nourishment and support and instead expect her to be a good host and to bounce back.
Related: Moms are living in an extraordinary era of burnout
The invisibility of motherhood tells a woman she’s ‘a mum now’ and that’s what’s most important, minimizing all that she is and all who she was pre-baby to one one identity: a mom.
The invisibility of motherhood is being expected to work like you don’t have children and mother like you don’t have a job.
The invisibility of motherhood starts when you’re expected to self-sacrifice, to give your everything—your body, your time, your emotions, to meet the needs of your family, all while constantly putting yourself last.
The invisibility of motherhood is how much pressure society puts on women to do it all and be it all—expecting her to be a super mom, but often without any support, without the village and without the societal infrastructure to support her.
The invisibility of motherhood is real and it starts well before motherhood.
This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.