Can We Rebrand Motherhood?

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There are a lot of labels cast on mothers these days—an order of identities, you could say, with neat little categories we’re all expected to fit into. We’re martyrs, superheroes, and saints. We’re stay-at-home or working. We’re selfless or selfish. We’re good moms. We’re bad moms.

As most of us know, there’s a lot of public opinion over what it means to be a mother.

This trend is likely a reflection of the times. Without traditional family units or political and social structures to support us, we’ve entered into an unprecedented age of motherhood. We’re figuring out how to make sense of what’s happening to our bodies, our minds, our relationships, our values, and our professional and personal pursuits essentially alone.

As mothers in this brave new world, our decisions are constantly being questioned, our parenting practices are often scrutinized, and our needs within the family unit usually come last. And don’t even get me started on the lack of institutionalized maternal health in this country. Given everything, it should come as no surprise that we’re having a collective identity crisis.

What I found when starting Woman Born is that many of us are tired of trying to fit into any of those labels. We’re exhausted by trying to fulfill an impossible ideal of selfless motherhood. We’ve reached our limit with all the beautiful, flawless images of motherhood crafted by individuals and brands on social media. We need more support than we’re getting from every angle.

We’re just hungry to connect over experiences that are real, raw, and honest.

As a mother of two young daughters, I wanted to create a space that encourages a new dialog around motherhood—one that truly supports women in this profound transition, as opposed to perpetuating a model that’s unrealistic or aspirational.

Here, I want it to be okay for mothers to admit that motherhood can be trying, isolating, and downright awful, without having to always modify it with the cheery upsides—how much it’s worth it or how much you love your kids. We all love our kids. I want women to feel no judgment for their choices, to ask for what they need, and to put themselves first without being labeled as selfish.

Here you’ll find just that—like this article from Meighan Moreno on her choice to get a divorce. Or this one from Yunyi Zhang on treating herself kindly through difficult transitions at work and at home. Maybe you can empathize with Melissa Hall’s harrowing and traumatic birth experience, which brings to light how many women fail to receive the emotional and psychological support they require after giving birth. Perhaps you can finally find some real, researched information on postpartum hormones and practical advice on how to feel like yourself again in this article by postpartum nutritionist Alison Boden.

Other stories in the works include one very funny woman’s detailed account of what’s actually involved in pelvic floor rehabilitation therapy (spoiler: there’s produce!) and another’s warning tale of nearly going bankrupt by spending on “self-care” (along with helpful tips on how to do it on the cheap). There’s also an in-depth look at the long-term payoff of keeping your professional foot in door—even if it means you’re making less than what you’re paying in childcare.

You were never meant to do motherhood alone, yet many of us do—day in and day out. I hope some of these stories help you feel connected or understood and offer the support you need to do you. Maybe collectively we can rebrand motherhood to reflect something a little more real.

Renee Frojo is the founder of Woman Born. A journalist and content creator, she aims to gather stories that narrowly focus on the overall wellness of the woman and mother.