The Secret Life of Mothers is a new podcast from Maggie Gordon-Walker at Mothers Uncovered from our Spokesperson Network. In this blog she shares the inspiration behind her new podcast series and why we need to talk about the highs and lows, the ins and outs of becoming a new mother.
Much of motherhood is unseen, hence the title of my new podcast The Secret Life of Mothers. I’m the founder of Mothers Uncovered, a Sussex peer-led organisation that supports women in matrescence (the transition to motherhood) with creative groups led by past participants. The idea for this podcast came about because we’ve heard so many stories over the years from mothers at Mothers Uncovered that deserve to be told.
We believe we know what mothers think, because they’re always being represented in the media. It is full of opinions about motherhood, little jibes about the categories of mothers: ‘career ballbreakers’, ‘yummy mummies’, ‘hippies breast-feeding their children into adulthood’. Posts on Instagram aside, very little is recorded by mothers detailing their life in that first year. There is an assumption that the day is filled by checking out the latest gossip on Mumsnet Towers and a spot of lunch, with a few nappy changes here and there. Stories are often told retrospectively, if at all. This is mostly because it can get to 2pm before a new mother can find the time to brush her teeth.
Much of motherhood is unseen. People might see mothers out and about, pushing a buggy. But that is only a small segment of the day. A mother, especially a new mother, is on call 24/7. She goes straight from carrying a baby and giving birth to it, to being responsible for its every moment. Of course, partners, family members and friends help, but the majority of this work falls on her shoulders. In addition, her body is usually shattered from giving birth, flooded with hormones and sleep-deprived. Her mind is full of worries about her child and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. She will usually feel enormously protective towards her child and swamped by love. But she might feel fear that she doesn’t love her child, resentment or anger that her life is turned upside down, boredom, a sense of failure if she wants to breastfeed and finds she can’t, worried about money, or her career. The transition to motherhood is known as matrescence and part of Mothers Uncovered’s campaign is to raise awareness of this word, that encompasses not just the act of giving birth, but all that goes with it.
In 2018 Mother’s Uncovered brought out a book to mark our tenth year, also called The Secret Life of Mothers (hey, if you’ve got the hashtag, you might as well work it!). This featured stories from around 50 past participants in our Brighton-based workshops, either transcribed interviews or submitted written pieces. But the beauty of podcasts is their accessibility, the immediacy and intimacy of someone speaking to you.
In each episode I will interview a mother and share her story. We’ll talk about the difficulties of motherhood and the additional challenges or trauma a mother might have to go through, such as bereavement, abuse, mental health challenges. You should listen if you want to dive deep into the story of someone’s life, to hear the extraordinary stories of ordinary women when life has thrown at them challenge or trauma. They have weathered these storms and emerged stronger. The stories will be hard-hitting, but also uplifting (and not without humour!). We hope you will be inspired by hearing how the skills they learned in motherhood can teach us not just about being a mother, but about unconditional love, resilience and radical acceptance.
The first episode is my story, with the interview conducted by my co-producer Christina Lewis, which airs on Sunday 19th March, Mothers Day, with episodes following on the 19th of each month. You’ll hear from mothers from all around the country, from all walks of life.
Listen to The Secret Life of Mothers on Spotify here, or wherever you listen.
About the author
Maggie Gordon-Walker is a Writer, Performer, Director of the charity Livestock and the project Mothers Uncovered. Mothers Uncovered is a Sussex peer-led organisation that supports women in matrescence (the transition to motherhood) with creative groups led by past participants. Campaigner for better postnatal care for mothers.