I’m So Glad They Told Me: Changing Conversations About Motherhood

I’m So Glad They Told Me: Changing Conversations About Motherhood

Last week I read the viral post, “They Should’ve Warned Me,” by Jenny Studenroth Gerson, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Although it was a lovely portrayal of her smooth transition to motherhood, it rubbed me the wrong way and I decided to write a response. In my post, I wrote:

I believe that all mothers, regardless of how smoothly or horrifically their transition to motherhood unrolled, should be part of changing the cultural dialogue about new motherhood. It is so beautiful, powerful, important, magical—of course it is. But it can be haaaard, and it doesn’t come naturally or easily to many women. Our babies don’t all coo blissfully and sh!# unicorn glitter. Sometimes they never stop crying. Sometimes we have no idea what to do with them. As I read Gerson’s article, I kept thinking, “How would a woman suffering from postpartum depression feel while reading this?” Defective, discouraged, humiliated, I suspect. Perhaps even like a failure.

I’m Glad They Told Me,” my response to Gerson’s Huffington Post article, is the first post that has ever gone viral on my website. I was floored. The response from other mothers who had a similar reaction to Gerston’s post was overwhelming. I was truly humbled by the support and sharing. A few days later,Huffington Post ran my response, and the comments and messages kept coming.  I was so moved by how many women reached out to me to share their own perspectives. It became clear to me that many mothers felt ashamed and isolated after reading Gerston’s article, well-intentioned though it may have been, as their experiences had been a far cry from hers. They felt their voices had not been heard.

So this week, we are issuing a challenge to mothers. Now is the time to raise your voice, and share your experience. We want to hear from YOU now. Did anyone throw you a lifesaver at some point—either during your pregnancy, postpartum period, or even later into motherhood? Did someone give you a piece of advice or an honest admission that you were profoundly grateful for? Maybe somebody gave you permission to feel your feelings, or to let go of something. This week, all across social media, we are using the hashtag #sogladtheytoldme and asking moms to share the pieces of truth and wisdom they’ve received. Things like this: I’m so glad they told me

  • That sometimes you don’t fall in love with your baby right away, and that’s OK.
  • That you might miss your old life, and crave your lost freedom.
  • Breastfeeding can be really hard work, and it may not happen for you.
  • That postpartum depression happens, and that it’s not your fault.
  • That your marriage may need a long, difficult period of adjustment. It’s normal.
  • That you may even resent your husband.
  • And worse, that you may sometimes resent your baby and your new lifestyle.
  • That it’s OK to ask for help. There is help.
  • It’s OK if you don’t feel like getting back in shape for a while. Take your time.
  • You might not feel like yourself at first. You’ll come back.
  • Every baby is different, and if yours is harder than your friend’s, it’s OK.
  • You might feel like you suck at this. You don’t.

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One of the reasons we decided on the subject matter for our upcoming anthology, Mothering Through the Darkness, is because we believe there is a serious need to present a broader, more balanced image of motherhood in our culture. When we only present one side of the story—the serene, “natural,” smooth side—we do a disservice to mothers and families everywhere.

I believe that there is a way to provide realistic, supportive guidance to new mothers without assaulting them with overwhelming, negative “warnings.” With our #sogladtheytoldme campaign, we want to hear how somebody supported you, or how you wish you had been supported, when you became a mother.

We’d love to see your photos of your personal “I’m so glad they told me…” signs. Mothers, please take a photo of yourself holding your sign and share it on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with the #sogladtheytoldme hashtag. Or just post a photo of your sign, or a simple text only post. Bloggers, we’d love for you to write your own blog posts or and share them with #sogladtheytoldme. Let’s spread a compassionate, real, honest message about motherhood as far as we can.

You can also email us at theherstoriesproject@gmail.com or Facebook message your photo to us if you prefer. Jessica and I will be compiling photos in our #sogladtheytoldme campaign to create a photo gallery sharing your amazing, powerful voices. Please spread the word to all the mamas you know! Together we can change the conversation about motherhood.

Or share your advice here!

19 comments

  1. Dana says:

    I wish someone had told me half of those things, Stephanie… I feel like my biggest warnings were physical, sleep, baby weight, exhaustion. But the concepts about marriage and resentment and the whole, it’s ok that your baby doesn’t shit unicorn glitter would’ve been so helpful. I’m glad you’re doing this for women who may be pregnant now, or post partum, because this is what they need to know.

    Congrats on the viral post!! That’s so awesome 🙂
    Dana recently posted…The Power of PoetryMy Profile

  2. Sarah Norris says:

    HALLELUJAH !!!!!!!!!
    You have my full support and admiration for doing this. I have been a Maternity Nurse in the UK for 22 years and have seen first hand, time and time again, just how hard it is to be a parent today. Everyone, from experts to complete strangers, have opinions on how you should be bringing up your baby, and how to be the ‘perfect’ parent as if ‘perfect’ was actually an absolute that could actually be achieved……IT CAN’T !!!!!!
    I have seen and comforted the Mums as they cry and stress and panic because things aren’t perfect and yes, they feel shame and confusion, loneliness and isolation and it is heart-breaking to witness.
    I reassure them that they are doing just fine, that there are as many different ways to care for their baby as there are babies in the world and that EVERY new mother is going through the same process of adapting to parenthood in whatever way they can.
    Nobody should ever feel excluded or that they are a failure at such a vulnerable time in their lives.
    I hope you get a massive response and that mothers and fathers everywhere get to hear the real stories, of real parents, in the real world, and that they get comfort from them. Thank you for doing this, Sarah x

  3. kitty says:

    I’m so glad my mum told me to relax and ignore everyone else’s advice. I was literally driving myself nuts worrying about doing everything wrong.

  4. Dana says:

    I was the first of my friends to have a baby, so no one told me anything. It wasn’t until I found a playgroup with other women who had the same questions and fears that I felt like I wasn’t a lost cause at motherhood. I’m so glad these women told me that they were feeling the same things I was, and that I wasn’t alone.
    Dana recently posted…What movies taught me about loveMy Profile

  5. Emma says:

    I haven’t adjusted well to motherhood. I have 5 month old twins. I never wanted children and was told I wouldn’t be able to have them anyway. So my pregnancy was a surprise. I miss my old life. I miss my job which I had to give up. I miss taking off anywhere I fancy when I want to. I miss going out at night several times a week.
    I miss getting up late and mooching around a clean and tidy flat all day.
    But when I do get a chance to go out, I miss my sons terribly and look at their pictures on my phone and just want to be with them again.

    • momof2 says:

      Hi Emma,
      Thank you for post. I’m a first time mom and my twins also have just turned 5 mo. It was a total surprise when I found out about being pregnant with twins. Now it’s just day by day and it’s really hard.

  6. I’m so glad they told me that the days may feel long, but the years will feel short. So true. I used to try and will the clock ahead to my kids’ nap times and bed times. Now that my three munchkins are a teen, tween and pretween and my roots are turning gray, I want nothing more than the clock to stand still. Even just for a moment please. Except for when tween and pretween are fighting over the last M&M Yo Crunch.

  7. Emma says:

    Thank you for starting something like this! This is a much better way to let people know what advice was useful to you than to bombard new parents with “your life is ending!” type stuff like I was :o/

    I wrote a blog post about the campaign and tracked it back to this one!
    Emma recently posted…#SoGladTheyToldMeMy Profile

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