Gisele Bündchen's list of accomplishments are tremendous: Brazil's first international supermodel, a ranking as one of Forbes Magazine's most influential women in the world, the face of Victoria Secret's angels, and even Hollywood star and producer.
Yet even for Gisele, the transformation to motherhood made her question everything about herself, her identity, and the life she once knew.
The supermodel, who shares children Benjamin (8), Vivian (5) and step son Jack (11) with NFL superstar Tom Brady, writes in her new book , Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life, that motherhood was a massive psychological transformation for her.
According to a People interview of Gisele on the topic of her new memoir, becoming a mother was incredibly challenging, even for her, telling the magazine:
"When I became a mom, I kind of lost myself. It was like a part of me died. I'd been this very independent person. It was all about me. But now I had this little being, and I suddenly felt l couldn't do other things and that was very hard for me. All I ever wanted was to be a mom, but when you're actually experiencing that, it's a shock."
YES, girl. Preach. Because no matter what you've done before becoming a parent, that tiny little person absolutely rocks your world.
Gisele also shares all-too-common feelings of guilt she experienced as a working mother, telling People: "I had all this horrible, self-imposed guilt. I thought what a terrible mother I was for leaving my child even for like a day." When she would bring her children along on jobs, "I was feeling guilty for that too. Like, 'Here we are on a plane and the baby is crying.'"
From her book, she writes:
"I think of this stage of my life as The Valley. Not because it is in any way negative, but because once you've been on top of the mountain, there's nowhere else to go back down. On top of the mountain, it's always sunny and bright and you get a big view. In contrast, life in a valley is quieter and more contained. The Valley gives me the opportunity to understand a different side of myself, and to devote myself to being the best wife and best mother I can be, all while I get to experience the love of my children."
While acknowledging that she has tremendous financial freedom that most new mothers lack, she writes in her memoir of the identity-shift she experienced in new motherhood:
"When the kids were very young, there were times when I felt overwhelmed or conflicted, sometimes a little depressed, though I tried my best to be strong. I felt the massive new responsibility of motherhood. I wanted to do my best, and to do it right. The thing is, I was an experienced mom, in on-the-job- training, plus I sometimes felt torn, since I knew I had so much more I wanted to create in the world.
"Now that the kids are older and in school, I know that soon Ill be ready to begin climbing another mountain. I've never lived in The Valley for this long, but I wouldn't give back the time I spent there for anything. My children have given me a greater sense of purpose and motivation."
Gisele may be a one-of-a-kind woman (I mean, how many of us wear literal wings at work?), but her experience of the mind-blowing transformation of motherhood is absolutely universal. It's where you can feel guilt for working—or guilt for not working. It's where you can feel the purest love you've ever experienced—but also miss the freedom you once had.
Motherhood is full of the highest highs and the lowest lows. In so many ways, it's the essence of the human experience itself—full of conflict and sacrifice, pure love and profound meaning. It's everything—even to Gisele.