On Motherhood: One month later

Anais Gschwind
4 min readDec 8, 2023

As the initial shellshock of becoming a parent slowly subsides, a first time mother is at last alone with a baby. The arrival of gifts in the post slowly peter out. The offers to drop in drop off. The room goes quiet.

That is to say, physically and emotionally, despite the infinity mothers that came before and that exist everywhere — the mother finds herself alone. The theory of motherhood finally gives way to the action.

Perhaps my greatest fear around having children was being defined by it. I grew up associating motherhood with sacrifice, servitude and discontent. Despite my own mother being loving and kind, I assumed, like so many other mothers, that some parts of herself and her life had been sacrificed at the altar of her children.

My world view never venerated sacrifice. I find discipline dull and tend to seek experience and chase curiosity at the expense of most other things. I have often made selfish decisions in life and I haven’t been ashamed to do so. On paper motherhood just didn’t look fun.

As many young girls do, I wanted to be ‘one of the boys’ rather than associate with femininity during my teenage years. At the time I thought I was a feminist. On reflection, I understand it as internalised misogyny and an immature notion of feminism.

In a similar vein, I spent most of my 20s and early 30s denouncing having children. It’s not that I had a problem with other people having children, I just couldn’t fit it into my own worldview. I was suspicious that having children wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

The way that motherhood is largely represented in the world repelled me. That it is the meaning of life and the only pathway to ‘wholeness’ is an unfair sell. The platitudes that pour out of new birth announcements seem glib— “our lives started that day” — “our hearts exploded” — “we never knew a love like it.”

Furthermore, I knew that women were often sidelined after having children and I didn’t want that for me. In hindsight, I know I was doing the same thing to other women too.

Before Luca’s birth I wondered how I might share my postpartum time across social media… I thought about how my identity would morph and feared for it. No longer wine girl or dog girl. No longer girl.

My content has become a constant stream of baby content. My previous self cringes. My internet projection has always been a reflection of my life. And my current life is being at home with a baby.

Some things are deeply boring, repetitive, laborious and draining — the washing, the changing, the feeding, the endless staring. Yet these parts are also earth-shatteringly wild. A tiny creature sucking from another body. Milk from a breast wielded as the answer to everything the growing human needs.

As the days pass I see the birth of a new sense of mother stirring in me — one in which motherhood might define me as much as my love for food and wine, long walks, my dog, the colour of the sky and the roses against it. One in which some parts of me might die and others may be born.

I am fostering a prayer that motherhood will not be a part of myself that I tuck away, that I attempt to diminish or exist in spite of. I hope all those aspects of myself might sit together in a beautiful, complex human existence.

For now I will allow myself to bask fully in this season of life which will never roll around again. I will share it across the ether as I enjoy doing and have done with the seasons before.

The hesitant arrival of a new mother. The glorious season of Luca.