Becoming a mother is full of joy, but it can also be full of frustration, anger, boredom, and anxiety. Talk to someone who has been there, and who is also a professional philosopher. I will help you sort out the confusion around motherhood, so that you can create an identity as a mother that feels integrated, powerful, and whole.

Moms groups are great, but they are usually devoted to sharing advice on how to get your baby to sleep or when to start solid foods. When I became a mother, I wanted someone who could understand me not just as a caretaker, but as an intellectual person, as well as a physical and emotional one. I wanted someone who would help me integrate my old, pre-baby self with the new mother self. I wanted someone who would help me think through this massive life change.

We're so often expected to say that motherhood is wonderful, natural, and easy. But the truth is that it can be a mess. I don't shy away from the more difficult realities of motherhood, and if you've felt any of the following, I can help:

  • Grieving a pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding that didn't go how you had hoped or planned

  • Missing your pre-child life and sense of self

  • Feelings of failing at being a "good mother"

  • Confused about conflicting parenting advice

  • Guilt about returning to work, or about staying home

  • Feeling like your work as mother is not taken seriously

  • Loss of connection and intimacy with your partner

  • Feeling uncomfortable in your post-baby body

  • Trying to understand yourself as both a mother and sexual being

  • Growing apart from friends who don't have kids

  • A shifting relationship with your own mother

  • Trying to understand what it means to create a human

  • Regrets or doubts about having children

Whether you have a two-month-old or a twelve-year-old (and five other kids), I will treat you like the fully intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical human that you are, so that you can feel like a more centered and confident mother. Let's get started.


Take a Course: The Meaning of Motherhood

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Mom groups and classes typically cover how-to logistical issues like how to swaddle a baby or how to manage difficult behavior in your child. But there are deep psychological, emotional, and philosophical issues around becoming and being a mother that deserve more of our attention:

What is lost and gained in the transition to motherhood? What are the cultural messages around being a good mom or bad mom? What does it mean to create a new human consciousness?

The Meaning of Motherhood explores these complex philosophical questions with compassion, openness, and intellectual curiosity.

“Finally, a safe space to have an honest, open and enlightening discussion about the true meaning of motherhood. This course is perfect for those struggling to make sense of the identity shift that takes place when a woman has a baby, and for those that are thinking about starting a family.”
— Laura, Meaning of Motherhood alumn

What you’LL Get with THIs 4-Week Series

  • Expert lectures from a Ph.D. in philosophy that provide context and grounding for exploring the philosophical components of motherhood

  • Open and non-judgmental discussions and activities to help you articulate and clarify your thoughts and feelings about motherhood

  • Weekly readings that include both light an accessible texts, as well as optional longer, more rigorous and academic texts

  • Access to the private Meaning of Motherhood Facebook group to connect with other Meaning of Motherhood alumni

  • A Motherhood Reading/Resource List that gives recommendations and reviews on books, films, and pop culture outlets that address motherhood in smart and fresh ways

  • Invitation to “The Radical Act of Being a Woman,” monthly Women’s Mastermind group

  • A monthly newsletter with practical philosophy resources, events, media, and inspirational quote

I loved the depth of this course. A room full of real stories and experiences, hopes and fears. It was magical to feel safe around my confusing and muddy path to motherhood.
— Cameron, Meaning of Motherhood alumn

Class Schedule

Week 1: The Birth of the Mother

The transition to motherhood is perhaps one of the biggest changes in a life, full of overwhelming and confusing emotions, huge physical changes, and profound mental shifts, but often doesn’t get the kind of recognition it deserves. In week 1, we’ll discuss the identity of motherhood and what it means to develop this new identity. What is lost, what is gained, and how do we understand the transition to motherhood?

Week 2: Good Mom/Bad Mom

There are so many responsibilities, expectations, and judgments around what it means to be a mother. In week 2, we’ll explore, and challenge, some of the personal and cultural messages that we carry around that inform our judgments about what a good or bad mom is, and how these messages can impact the self-image and well-being of mothers.

Week 3: A New Consciousness

How do you wrap your head around making a person? How do you relate to a child with whom you are so intimately connected, but who has a distinct and unique experience with independent thoughts, desires, fears, and hopes. In week 3, we’ll explore how this creation of life can raise a deep sense of vulnerability, anxiety, and confusion about the meaning of mortality and human existence.

Week 4: Raising Wisdom

Our experiences provide us a kind of knowledge that we simply couldn’t have any other way. In week 4, we’ll discuss how the experiences of motherhood provide new insight and deeper understanding of the human experience, particularly with respect to time, compassion, love, and meaning.

I feel grateful for the space you held and the wisdom you shared and you were a huge light and helped me move forward in this motherhood thing.
— Jacqueline, Meaning of Motherhood Alumn

Is this course for me?

You do not need to identify as a mother to take this course. Although it may be particularly poignant for those who are about to become, are considering becoming, or who have already become mothers, it will be illuminating for anyone who wants to better understand the emotional, psychological, and philosophical complexities of motherhood, including partners, caretakers, and perinatal professionals.

In addition, this course recognizes that there are many paths to motherhood, many types of families, and many gender expressions that intersect with the identity of motherhood. During the course, we will be likely discussing some physical components of pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum experience that impact many moms, while also understanding that this is not everyone's experience.

As someone who does not yet have children of my own, I feel like I have gained a lot of valuable insight into the realities of motherhood that are not often discussed in our culture, and therefore might be better prepared to face them.
— Carly, Meaning of Motherhood alumn

Next Offering

Mondays, February 3, 10, 17, and 24

6:30-8:30pm

The Ready Set Grow Café | 5429 NE 30th Ave, Portland, OR 97211

$225, Early bird: $199 until January 13, 2020. Registration closes January 27, 2020.

Register with a friend and get 25% off with promo code FRIEND25.

Maximum of 15 participants. Scholarships available for those experiencing financial hardship; send email to daniellelasusa@gmail.com to inquire. Priority will be given to those from marginalized communities, including people of color and LBGTQ people, as well as single parents.

It’s hard to put into words how deeply I have been needing these conversations in my life, and how invaluable they are to my own healing and sense of peace.
— Leah, Meaning of Motherhood alumn

My Motherhood Story

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Before my daughter was born, I was a young professional, with a Ph.D. in philosophy and a wonderful teaching career, living in New York City. I was in control of my life. I ate well, did yoga, meditated, went out with friends. But as we were about to start a family, my partner and I wanted a more relaxed pace and lifestyle, so we moved to Portland, OR when I was five months pregnant. We were excited about starting our new life.

I wanted an intervention-free "natural" childbirth. I imagined soaking in a tub and squatting, pushing my child out in a euphoric hormonal connection with the primal goddess within. Instead, I ended up with a birth that involved nearly every medical intervention available. I felt angry and disappointed, and I had to grieve the loss of my ideal image of childbirth. I've published more of that story in a piece called "No Birth Plan Ever Survives Contact with the Enemy".

This is a picture I drew during an Art Therapy session while recovering from postpartum psychosis.  Read or listen to my story here.

This is a picture I drew during an Art Therapy session while recovering from postpartum psychosis. Read or listen to my story here.

From there, things got worse. The first two months with the new baby were a blur of sleeplessness and exhaustion, but I was doing ok, or so I thought. But when my daughter was about two and a half months old, I started down a cycle of insomnia and anxiety that was so severe that I started having panic attacks, delusional thoughts, and I could no longer tell what was real and what wasn't. I was hospitalized in a mental health facility for four days with postpartum psychosis. I've published more of that story in my piece "White Noise." You can also watch a video of me reading that piece.

With lots of therapy, support from loved ones, medication, and time, I was able to start feeling like myself again. Or rather, like a new version of myself--a better one, who understood my life and my mind in a whole new way, who had gone through darkness and come out on the other side. I felt whole again.

Since then, I have talked to so many mothers all over the country about their experience of motherhoodand how it isn't everything they had expected or hoped it would be. Too many of these women feel shame, guilt, and loneliness about these experiences, as if they are not living up to the ideal of motherhood, and they suffer quietly. Every journey of motherhood is unique, and as I go through mine, I want to be a support, a safe space, a listening ear, and a fellow traveler. I would be honored if you share your journey with me.