As our news feeds continue to flood this morning with talk of last night’s Grammy Awards, the headlines all seem to be fixated on one major moment: Adele’s amazing win for Album of the Year, and her tear-filled apology to Beyonce, who she felt should have really been given the honor.
But to be honest, Adele’s acceptance speech is still replaying in my mind for another reason entirely; because the moment that touched me most was when she got up there and said this:
“[This pregnancy was … ] the biggest blessing of my life. And in my pregnancy and becoming a mother, I lost a lot of myself. And I struggled. And I still do struggle being a mum, it’s really hard. Tonight feels like full circle … like a bit of me has come back to itself.”
The singer, who’s now mom to a 4-year-old son named Angelo (and has dropped hints of gearing up soon for Baby No. 2), has been candid about motherhood before, even admitting that she struggled with postpartum depression. But there was something about her words last night — and the fact that she shared them on stage, before millions — that hit home for me more than anything else.
There are a lot of sentiments we hear attached to motherhood, and especially to becoming a new mom: Happiness, joy, love, and feelings of finally being “complete.” But there’s another one that people often fail to mention, too: Loss.
Loss of self. Loss of identity. Loss of any sense of normalcy. You will never be the same again after having a child, and although the change can be incredible, there is still a sense of sorrow to be felt in losing your former self, and navigating that can be terrifying and feel impossible at times.
No one talks about the loss. No one talks about questioning your entire identity. No one warns you that you might no longer know who you are or what your purpose is outside of keeping a new person alive. No one mentions the confusion or the numbness. No one explains that for a reason you won’t be able to explain, you suddenly feel completely lost. No one is there to guide you through navigating this new role or how it fits into who you are. No one talks about how reality doesn’t feel like reality, but more like an out of body experience passing you by.
You don’t hear about any of this. You don’t hear about it, because we are all afraid to say it out loud, partly because we fear if we say it out loud, it really is true; and partly because we fear the judgment.
But that fear of judgment from others — and even more so, the judgment we put on ourselves for having these feelings — is rooted in one common misconception: That you can’t think your baby and your role as a mom is the very best thing and also the hardest, most confusing thing you have ever experienced at the same time. When the truth is, you can; because it is.
Adele began to bridge that gap last night, by admitting so openly that while her son was the biggest blessing of her life, his entrance into the world also caused her to lose her way a bit. You might not believe those two things can happen simultaneously; unless of course, you’ve been there yourself.
After my own first baby, I experienced severe postpartum depression, and the identity crisis that accompanied it was debilitating. I couldn’t buy groceries because I didn’t know what I liked eating anymore; I couldn’t buy clothes because my body was foreign to me and I had no clue what my personal style was. I struggled in social settings because I no longer knew what to talk about. I felt different in every single role and setting in my life, and I didn’t understand if being a mom meant I was now solely that. I suddenly felt like an awkward tween stumbling through finding myself, constantly wondering if the parts of me that didn’t feel maternal had to suddenly fall away.
So yeah, Adele is right: motherhood is hard and it’s transformative. But now that I’m on the other side of things, I can say this with absolute certainty: If you feel lost, keep looking. You aren’t broken and you aren’t wrong — you are still in there. It might just take a bit of time to feel yourself coming back around, but that full-circle moment Adele’s talking about? It is so worth it.