What You'll Learn
- How Dr. Gertrude Discovered the Value in Imperfection
- Losing Your Identity in Motherhood (and Taking it Back)
- The Beliefs and Myths that Come With the Mother Code
- Ways to Embrace and Engage Our Pain Instead of Avoiding It
- How We Can Start Mothering in an Empowered Way
Do you ever feel like you’re losing your identity in motherhood? If so, you aren’t alone. Motherhood can feel all-consuming—especially when you’re carrying beliefs around it that have been prescribed to you.
Life coach Dr. Gertrude Lyons calls those beliefs The Mother Code—the wiring given to us from family, culture, and society. She joined me to share how to see the myths of the mother code, write our own code, define motherhood for ourselves, and use it as a vehicle for transformation.
My Breakdown that Changed Everything
Coming to terms with my postpartum depression wasn’t easy—in fact, it took a full-on breakdown for me to realize that I was struggling.
I don’t wish that crisis moment on anyone. But if I’m being honest, I’m glad it happened to me. Not only was I able to seek the help I so desperately needed, but I was also able to break free from the expectations I was clinging to around being the perfect mother.
After that breakdown, everything changed for me. I transformed into a different mother, one who wasn’t striving for perfection—one who had her own definition of what motherhood looked like.
I transformed into a different mother, one who wasn’t striving for perfection.
Of course, I would be lying if I told you it was all sunshine and rainbows now (let’s be real—motherhood is never easy). But after that, I began to look at motherhood differently–changing my beliefs, shattering myths, and carving out the role for myself.
That transformation, that discovery that motherhood can be freeing, imperfect, and empowering, is central to the work that Dr. Gertrude does. And when I got the chance to speak with her, she had a remarkable breakthrough story of her own.
How Dr. Gertrude Discovered the Value in Imperfection
Dr. Gertrude entered motherhood with intention. She was on a path of self-discovery and growth, along with her husband.
But when she had her second daughter, she fell into a pattern that so many moms do—she started to lose her identity in motherhood. She halted her own growth while trying to keep her family moving forward.
It wasn’t until she started working in the field of transformational motherhood that she began to look inward and ask herself where she had been lost along the way.
While on a pilgrimage to Laos, observing a collection of perfectly imperfect statues, she had an epiphany—maybe there was beauty in imperfection. Maybe she could embrace it instead of fearing it.
Maybe there was beauty in imperfection. Maybe she could embrace it instead of fearing it.
From that moment, her motherhood transformation began. Now, she works to help other moms realize that they don’t have to lose themselves in motherhood—they can use motherhood to transform into who they truly want to be.
Losing Your Identity in Motherhood (and Taking it Back)
Dr. Gertude believes that our traditional notions of motherhood—the “Mother Code” we’ve been given, keep us from creating motherhood for ourselves.
We have unconscious wiring around the concept of motherhood—from our family, our upbringing, our culture, and our society. That wiring is largely built on myths–and until we dig into those myths and question them, we can’t write our own codes.
But if we get curious and explore our wiring, we can take back control of our motherhood experience, shattering myths, making discerning decisions, and carving out our own roles as mothers.
We can construct a genuine sense of self, looking inside for affirmation instead of elsewhere, and walking the journey of motherhood in a way that reflects who we are.
The Beliefs and Myths that Come With the Mother Code
Dr. Gertrude has identified many myths and beliefs that accompany the Mother Code. She pointed out that rewriting the mother code isn’t about taking a list of myths and tackling it blindly, though—it’s about determining which ones you want to rewrite on your mothering journey.
She shared that the major underlying theme with the myths that deserve a closer look is that they leave us questioning our own choices or dismissing our own emotions. When we feel ourselves doing that, it’s time to dig a little deeper!
One of the biggest myths is that pain is to be avoided—and more specifically that a mother's pain might harm children. We don’t have a choice around pain, but we do have a choice in our suffering.
She advocates fostering a positive relationship with pain. After all, if we care about anything, if we open up our hearts, then there will inevitably be moments of pain. But there’s beauty in pain, just as there is with joy—and you can’t have one without the other.
In fact, Dr. Gertrude says that pain is necessary for our transformation. We’re bound to experience some pain or discomfort when we try to rewire—when we dare to do motherhood differently. As we unlearn myths that have been folded into our identity, we’re going to encounter some resistance.
Other myths that Dr. Gertrude touched on include the idea that a mother’s job is to always put the needs of their children and spouses above themselves, and that motherhood should fulfill us completely.
It’s ok—healthy even—to seek fulfillment outside of motherhood. When we unearth ourselves and embrace who we are, using motherhood as a vehicle for transformation instead of letting it erase our identities, we become more present, more grounded, and more fulfilled.
Ways to Embrace and Engage Our Pain Instead of Avoiding It
Dr. Gertrude and I both had painful experiences that opened up our eyes and hearts. She mourned the time she spent losing her identity in motherhood. I wondered how much joy in motherhood I had missed out on.
But we both agreed that our moments of pain weren’t just breakdowns—they were breakthroughs. From our pain, we let go of perfection and discovered who we wanted to be.
Our moments of pain weren’t just breakdowns—they were breakthroughs.
It takes time and practice to build a tolerance to pain and discomfort—to let motherhood be a vehicle for change.
Dr. Gertrude suggests starting by getting curious. Ask yourself what beliefs you have around pain, and how pain was handled in your family growing up. Acknowledge those beliefs and that relationship with pain.
From there, you can start to build a new relationship. Trying to push the pain away fans the flame of distress. But if we try to understand our pain, it minimizes the pain and empowers us. Pain can be beautiful if we learn and grow from it.
How We Can Start Mothering in an Empowered Way
We can choose to take our motherhood journeys in a different direction—to break away from the myths that we’ve been wired with and decide our own paths. Motherhood can be transformational and empowering, instead of all-consuming and overpowering.
Dr. Gertrude said that the first step is awareness—begin with reading books, listening to podcasts, and finding voices that give you the language you need to identify your own values and beliefs. Open space to question cultural beliefs and think critically for yourself.
From there, start dipping your toes into the water, acknowledging and recognizing your emotions. The goal isn’t to “fix” what you’ve been doing or turn a 180 on your motherhood journey. It’s to identify the beliefs you want to rewrite and work slowly toward doing that.
The best thing we can do for our children is to be a model.
As Dr. Gertrude pointed out, the best thing we can do for our children is to be a model—to show them that we can think consciously and steer ourselves in the direction we choose.
When we take back the power and rewrite our codes, it creates ripple effects, allowing us to heal ourselves, heal generations, and heal the planet.
Ready to write your own codes and discover the mother you want to be? Check out our Motherhood Roadmap—a 5 week guided journal experience to help you discover your values, redefine your expectations of "a good mother,” and carve out your own motherhood journey. Start your Roadmap today!