Reclaiming Matrescence: A Mothers Rite of Passage with Rachel Roberts


Rachel Roberts helps you reclaim the mother-centered knowing of “matrescence”, a word that represents a mother’s rite-of-passage into mothering. 

We discuss how a concept like matrescence, that represents the developmental transition into motherhood, can help mothers shift through this rite-of-passage with greater grace, humor, and even ease… because knowing the process of becoming a mother can illuminate a path towards the creation and integration of oneself as Mother.

Our conversation covers: 

  • the term’s history and progression in motherhood studies
  • a definition of the term from a mother and professional standpoint
  • what the process looks like for many mothers, including mental health challenges
  • patterns and themes in the process for mothers, including resilience strategies
  • opportunities within this period of change to become your most realized self

Rachel Roberts is a Family and Relationship Mentor, a certified Soul Modes Mentor, and accredited Mama Rising Facilitator. She works directly with individuals, couples, and families, with a focus on self-discovery, relational patterns, anger management, and translating the masculine and feminine for more loving, meaningful connections. She’s also well versed in typing frameworks (including the Enneagram) and archetypal exploration and will meet you exactly where you are in your journey to discover What Your Soul Holds (WYSH).


Drafted by AI. Please excuse typos.

Allie  00:00

The process of becoming a mother is a developmental period. Matrescence, a period which can last 10 years or many more, is a biologically socially, hormonally politically and spiritually driven period of change. This change launches a new phase of life in a totally new identity. There’s no going back to feeling like the old you. There is only the creation and integration of your new mothering self.

Welcome to this episode on matrescence, the developmental transition into motherhood. This week we’re talking to Rachel Roberts Rachel’s a family and relationship mentor, a certified soulmates mentor and accredited mama rising facilitator. She works directly with individuals, couples and families with a focus on self discovery, relational patterns, anger management, and translating the masculine and feminine for more loving, meaningful connections. She’s also well versed in typing frameworks and archetypal exploration, and will meet you exactly where you are in your journey to discover what your soul holds.

Thank you so much for being here today and talking to me about matrescence. Um, can you tell me a little bit about your work with matrescence?

Rachel  02:09

Thank you for having me. I really, really love being here talking with you about it. My work with matrescence is mainly focused on the support of mothers and how their matrescence journey kind of affects their relationships with their partners especially but also within their family units. And a lot of this work is based around self discovery, really going inward. It’s really a process of reflecting on what our inner guidance is springing up for us and how to get in touch with that and explore what it means for us and then be able to do the more difficult work actually of communicating that or expressing it outwardly in our relationships. So that’s kind of my focus on on the work the work around matrescence.

Allie  03:02

I love the centering of self discovery with matrescence. But one thing I always hear whenever you use the word is, you know, what is that!? Let’s kind of backup and tell us about what matrescence really is

Rachel  03:16

Sure, yeah, that while the term itself was coined, as far as my understanding it back in the early 70s, by a medical anthropologist named Dana Rafael, at Columbia University, that’s the first place that I have heard it used. And she was very much discovering, in her research that this there was a developmental passage where a woman was going to transition all the way from preconception. So really, when you’re looking at your fertility and, or whether or not you even want to have children, all the way through pregnancy and birth. And that can include surrogacy or adoption to the postnatal period and then realizing that that that transition continues far beyond the postnatal period. So we have a whole lot of support around a trust since in the from fertility through birth, and maybe the first newborn time period in first year, but then beyond that, there are quite a few transformations that a woman continues to go through. So similar to adolescence, this this term depressants really put some language around what mothers are going through and, and just like with adolescence, the amount of support that teens need in this time period in their lives, as well as an understanding that what they’re going through is okay, and that it’s normal, and that it’s to be expected. And here are some ways that we can support you. It’s really important that we do that for mothers as well with matrescence. So a lot of moms just don’t even know that it’s a thing that that there is something that they’re going through it is profound and it’s going to affect them on many different levels. You know, psychologically, physically, we talk a lot about physical changes for moms, but there’s so much more to the metrocentre. It’s, it hits you socially, it hits you, economically, spiritually and culturally and all these different facets of your life. So just having that awareness that there is something you’re going through and, and being able to have that wording and language to be able to articulate what you’re experiencing. And after Dana Rafael coined that term, it kind of disappeared. She went on to focus more on breastfeeding and she created the lactation Institute and that so her her work kind of took a turn and focus more on on breastfeeding and doula work. But Dr. Aurelie Athan came later on, she was also a professor at Columbia University. And she built more upon Dana Raphael’s work with that. So Dr. Aurlie Athan has a wonderful body of work on the trust since and she really has helped to bring it into more of the mainstream now, we now are able to start building some support systems with this knowledge, we can actually start helping mothers, that’s kind of where mattresses came from, and where I think it’s going.

Allie  06:14

Yeah, one of the things that really speaks to me is how you emphasize we talk about physical changes, I happen through matrescence, but we erase all these other really important holistic ways that we develop a new identity, can you talk a little bit about the processes of developing this new identity?

Rachel  06:34

it all kind of boils back down to what we are raised, or as we’re growing up, what we kind of start building in our minds as what a mother is, and what a mother does, and the whole identity around motherhood starts to develop early on, as you know, when we’re young girls, and we we start, you know, experiencing babies and watching our mothers and other mothers. And so we start building kind of this idea of the perfect mother in our in our minds. And then societal expectations, cultures, different different expectations also get placed on on a girl throughout her lifetime. So in addition to your own internal perfection, I perfect idea of the good mother, you also have your external influences on what that is. And so as soon as you start actually looking into your fertility, that process, those processes begin where if you are having trouble with your fertility, you know, you can already begin to feel like a failure as a mother. So it can start very early on in this process of Who am I? What am I capable of? Can I do this? Can I do it? Well, and one of the things we like to talk about too, in in mamma rising is something called the inner split, which is after becoming a mother so you finally are able to get through the the early process of fertility you get pregnant, you birth a child, and now you are a mother, and the inner split is all about, well, who was I before this, and who am I becoming now. And there is an entire journey that you’re going to take to discover that about yourself as these processes unfold for you. And you have all again, continued external expectations, continued external pressures, you have your partner, maybe in your life that also has pressures on him or her and other expectations from from your internal family, your extended family, that kind of thing. And so the process is really, usually mothers will discover that this these pains will start occurring in certain aspects of their lives. So they will, they’ll notice the physical changes, perhaps that’s where it really affects them. And that’s that becomes a focus without realizing that this is actually just a small area of a much greater like you said holistic issue for them. Or a mother may have relationship struggles and not really fully understand why and what and what’s going on there for inner family life, or maybe some social issues where she can’t connect with some of her best and closest friends any longer, or some emotional issues where she is having a hard time coming to terms with being a mother seeing herself this way or even beating herself up about not meeting these expectations she had for herself even. So what ends up happening for a lot of mothers is that inner split really hits them in a way that well, I thought I knew who I was, but now everything’s changed. And so who am I now? And how do I reconcile that with who I was and a lot of moms kind of reached this point where they’ve tried to get back to who they were before you know you hear that actually a lot in in our society. constructs is getting your baby Your after baby body back or whatever they, I tried to tune that out. So because it’s so frustrating for me when I hear that getting your your body back and your pre baby body and or getting your relationship back your relationship is is never going to be quite the same after you become a mother so that that dynamic shifts dramatically as well. Just the entire transition of who reconciling who I was with who I’m becoming, it becomes a very long process of for that mother. And I am a believer that the more support that mother has, and and some of these this wording that she might have to understand that she’s not alone and that she she has some support and understanding around this can really help that journey along it can really get her through so that she’s not spending 10 or even 20 years trying to discover who she is, you know, again,

Allie  10:55

Yeah. If we’re talking about this happening on a wide scale, are there any patterns that researchers have found by studying the trends?

Rachel  11:06

So yeah, some of the common themes in the trends that we’ve been noticing with with a lot of women is a pattern of self silencing. So when a mother has these perceived ideas in her mind already about what the good mother is, I put that in quotes, she then has a struggle, an internal struggle very often with, well, how do I express that it can, it can very much shut a woman down and, and as women, from the time we’re very young girls, whether this is brain wiring or patterning or whether it’s cultural, you know, the whole nature versus nurture debate, I’m not I won’t get into you know why. But there is a tendency for girls and women to suppress our own identities for the benefit of others for maintaining relationships, wanting to wanting to appear agreeable, or to get along, I think it was, it was a professor of psychology, I want to say, Dana Jack, pioneered some research in this area where women tend to self silence, while inwardly growing more resentful and angry, at the world or at their situation or at their, at their partners, or whatever the disconnect is there is very deeply linked with matrescence. And it can lead to things like depression and disconnection in women where or detachment, so to speak. So one of the things in motorizing, that we say a lot is that for women, we don’t get mad, we get perfect. So I’ll just, I’ll just try better, I’ll just try harder, I’ll do better. I’ll get it right, I will, I will reach that good mother, keep striving toward that good mother perception that I have. Which, you know, as a psychologist, you’re well aware that without the expression of some of that, it builds and can become problematic if we’re not communicating and expressing some of that.

Allie  13:05

Yeah, one of the things that I hear so often as a phrase is loss of self in motherhood. And that really speaks to that as to the cause. Listening to you it’s just feeling very powerful to think about how it’s also individual as well as historical, social, cultural, mythical, like these are the the levels of the models that we we start to identify even before becoming a mother through birth, adoption or some other process. 

Rachel  13:39

Right, right. It is very unique to each mother, which is why we need to support each other so much. And that’s really each each journey is going to be unique, depending on the self, the identity, but also these common themes really help us put some framework to that supports that we can really talk about it and open up those lines of communication for moms.

Allie  14:01

In your work, do you use matrescence as this process to create kind of strategic change in oneself or one’s life or one’s world? 

Rachel  14:11

Yeah, in fact, I would say that it’s that very detail. It’s that very disowning of some of the preconceived ideas or expectations that we that we had to discovering and developing our own, which really brings a mother into her own confidence and her own her own identity as a mother how she decides to define it. And that can take many years for some moms. But I think the sooner the support comes in, and the sooner we can talk with moms about this and really open up with each other. The sooner we can self identify that way and really get in touch with our inner what our soul is, you know, striving to feel and desire for ourselves and our families and really own it. So that it is this unique, you No beautiful experience for us instead of instead of a self silencing experience we want it to be more of a rising up into our into our motherhood and being who we decide we’re going to be with that. Yeah, so yeah, I do think it’s extremely powerful for for a woman

Allie  15:18

and a community and I love that mama rising onset.

Rachel  15:21

Yeah, as opposed to something that’s happening to us what can we do with that, you know, what can how can we really embrace this as our own and, and help mothers and joining arms and you know, walk together and sisterhood as mothers to bring this greater awareness to the world and also to to develop those those gifts that we actually have in our own unique ways, but collectively as well.

Allie  15:54

So thankful Rachel came here to discuss matrescence. I think, especially during times of rapid identity change like this, we can benefit from an illuminating perspective about what we’re experiencing and the landscape before us so we can be empowered to move forward with more intention, humor, Grace, confidence, and that by naturalizing. This developmental progression of matrescence and the triumphs and difficulties of the transition, mothers can feel more connected with themselves and their family and more at ease with their shifting selves. 

More Information

Get in touch with Rachel Roberts of What Your Soul Holds

Connect with Rachel on Facebook and Instagram

Aurelie Athan’s website

My blog post on matrescence

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