Motherhood & Identity Event
There are many elements of motherhood that we don’t feel comfortable talking about. Sometimes these issues are too personal, they trigger feelings of shame or embarrassment and sometimes we can’t find the words or the right people to open up to. To launch our new online issue, we approached some of these taboo subjects through the lens of motherhood and identity to try and normalise the conversations we struggle to have.
To explore these sensitive subjects, we brought together a panel of women at the Ace Hotel, London including writer Leanne Cloudsdale, founder of Platform 13 Leila Fataar, creative partnerships director Heta Fell, founder of Frame and Mumhood Pip Black and cook and author Anna Jones.
Heta Fell opened the discussion by looking at the duality of motherhood; the paradox of empowerment and the attrition of your identity. Heta shared her experience of moving from London to San Francisco with her husband and small child and finding her way through motherhood far away from her family, she expanded on these themes in her piece for the online issue. She talked about prioritising time for herself so she can do the things that make her feel balanced, this has been essential for her mental well-being.
Anna Jones shared her experience of post-natal depression, how it went undiagnosed for three years and how she eventually took care of herself with the help of holistic doctors. Anna also touched on why we find it difficult to share what we’re going through, mainly because it’s often so experiential and physical that it’s beyond language—there are no words that can describe some aspects of motherhood so we find ourselves disconnected or isolated. She made a plea for women to look out for the earlier warning signs of post-natal depression which she had missed.
Writer Leanne Cloudsdale shared her experience of discovering she was infertile. Told with unflinching honesty Leanne discussed the feelings of failure that overwhelm her identity since discovering she’s not able to conceive naturally. She discussed the challenge of coming to terms with being around other mothers and their children, how people respond awkwardly when faced with her reality and how a lack of conversation around the subject of infertility needed to change so that younger women were made aware of the facts.
The physicality of motherhood can hugely impact how we feel about ourselves. Pip Black of Mumhood talked through why they started the classes dedicated to mothers after feeling there was a lot of misinformation out there about how to exercise either during or after pregnancy. The classes and information that they offer at Mumhood are specifically designed with a mother’s body in mind, helping women understand what their bodies are going through and what they can do to do work with it, not against it.
Leila Fataar shared her story of working a high-stress job and moving countries with a small child. Leila has always been the breadwinner in her family and discussed the importance of an equal partnership when it comes to your relationship and making a family unit work. Through her experience she had come to realise that vulnerability was important for her growth and echoed a point made by Pip earlier, that asking for and accepting help was a huge part of staying sane.
Motherhood is beautiful, it is terrifying and it is also very boring. No two women have the exact same experience but it is comforting to know that there are intersections—there are places where we can connect. There are spaces for laughter and hilarity in amongst the stress and tiredness. The more we share our experiences, the more we can relate to each other, share knowledge and hopefully help each other prepare or deal with the various experiences motherhood can throw at you.
Thanks to the Tas, Jess and Ace Hotel team for making the event happen.