Hidden Motherhood

Alena Zhandarova

2018 - Ongoing


Despite its commonness and prose, the topic of motherhood still remains off-limit. It is generally considered that having or adopting a baby makes a mother. But is it really so?

Parenthood was, is and will be there. It’s a long experienced but – surprisingly enough – a constantly changing subject due to the new rhythms, environment and means of communication, both with yourself and with the world. Today’s society trains managers, engineers, teaches to be effective at work and how to earn big money. But a woman who has had a baby finds herself in an informational and emotional vacuum because no one has ever coached her for this role or told her how little do babies actually have in common with those shown in the diapers commercial. Only recently, people started talking about the fact that the idealized picture of a happy mother can highly differ from reality due to post-natal depression, the feeling of love which doesn’t come right away or at all and even doubts regarding the decision to become a parent.

Is it possible and necessary to prepare yourself for becoming a mother? How do you know if you will be a “good mother” and what constitutes this concept? Just several decades ago a mother could leave her two-month-old baby at a day nursery and go back to work. And now if a woman does not breast feed at least two years she could be graded as a “bad mother”. If earlier, a criterion for an excellent parent was a baby who was fed and dressed – and that was enough – today further more attention is paid to the children’s emotional state and psychological education. There’s an old saying: it takes a whole village to raise a child. Today, however, children are mainly brought up in a nuclear family and sometimes – thanks to the still remaining gender stereotypes – only by mothers.

So, it turns out that becoming a mother requires a great deal of spiritual strength and psychological stability. You need to take responsibility for your own life and the life of the little human being, take care of yourself and not only of him, be able to work with negative emotions and show love, provide a lifetime pillar and protection for your children, set an example, pay attention to every single word and every single deed, learn to stand corrected, let your child into your life and be honest with yourself.

Being a mother is a kind of work that does not assume any reward and that is not to be compared with any other job. It’s a great mystery how women make up their minds to become mothers, guessing that their former life will be over and a new life will begin – unknown and for a long time dependent on another person. How do they do that in spite of the mounting social pressure? How do they keep being full of life and joy despite the incredibly difficult mission of raising a happy child?

In Victorian times, babies were photographed with their mothers covered up, so that the women could be close to their children and help them sit through long exposures, but at the same time, remain invisible. The mother was still there, in the picture, but the beholder had to try “not to see” her. It is also suggested that from the social point of view, a woman was not considered to be worth any attention at those times, even compared to her own child. A lot of women feel the same way, hidden behind the veil, behind their children. It is as if they are there, but at the same time – not. As if they’ve turned into a set of functions and are waiting to wake up. Waiting for a time to open their face and show. But who decides when this time comes? And whose hand is to reveal her face?

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  • "Motherhood is definitely about a kind of love that I couldn’t imagine before. About undisclosed possibilities and potential, about the fear of leaping into the unknown, the scare of losing yourself in a world that you know nothing of. And about boldness (and venture) to close your eyes, breathe out and jump. And dive into the depth. To the very bottom. Every day."

  • "To me, motherhood is this endless era that modernizes me, makes me change continually, as nothing else does. I find it very hard to give all of me to my children – I guess, I wouldn’t be able to work at a children’s institution"

  • "To tell of motherhood in a “no crap” kind of way would make the worst social advertising on birth rate increase. When I got over the first shock and was at least a little less scared of holding my own child, there were a number of unromantic discoveries to be made about the everyday life of a young mother."

  • "The thing I was definitely not ready for – was emergency C-section. Actually, subconsciously, I had been scared of something going wrong and C-section the whole time I was pregnant."

  • " I learned that when planning your pregnancy, it’s extremely important not only to take blood tests and folic acid and cure every possible illness you have in your body in advance, but also try to fix all your psycho-emotional stuff, as possible."

  • "Sometimes, with astonishment and horror, I realize that I am an even bigger baby, than my kid is. I don’t want to make decisions, responsibilities, cure cold and a lot of other things. I want uppy! So I take myself uppy or go uppy to my husband."

  • "I like the phrase "sufficiently good mother" and do not idealize myself. There are days when it’s really hard for me, when I want to cry, fall down exhausted, when I feel like I'm on the edge. But this condition is also happens without children."

  • "During pregnancy I was enjoying the tremulous state I was in. And I didn’t understand when people told me how a child takes up all your time and you don’t belong to yourself..."

  • "I notice that the child reads not only from the outside, but also from inwardly. We are all not perfect, and I am now on the path to knowing this. One thing I can say for sure is that I am grateful to the universe for having a child in my life!"

  • "After a while I understand that our daughter will teach her parents a lot. I already feel the experience of motherhood in myself, but the full awareness that I’m already a mom has not yet come to me."

  • "I discovered how strong am I physically and spiritually and how amazingly my body is built. The woman absorbed all magic of the world. So sad and ridiculous that motherhood is fraught with so many preconceptions."

  • "When they brought him to me I couldn’t understand, why I didn’t feel that euphoria that everyone talks about. I could only think with my head that it was my son and I had to take care of him."