Exploring Matrescence with Kathryn Parrish
For many years, Kathryn Parrish has been focused on supporting entrepreneurially-minded women and encouraging them to be the best version of themselves through her work at YellowCo.
Then along came 2020, a global pandemic, and Kathryn's pregnancy with her daughter, Meadow. During this time, Kathryn's deep-rooted care and concern for the well-being of mothers expanded as she studied women's circle facilitation and holistic health at IIN and continues to learn with matrescence-educator Nikki McCahon.
Now Kathryn has turned her attentions to developing programming to guide women through their own transition to motherhood, including her first Rain or Shine Gathering this coming October.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and the current season you are in as mama to Meadow, wife, and community and conversation facilitator.
Kathryn Parrish: In this current season, our family is embracing multigenerational living with my parents in my childhood home. We originally intended to return to the West coast once Meadow was two months old, but the pandemic shifted our plans. We moved in five months ago and are focusing on figuring out the next chapter based on our values and needs. Being back home has reminded me of my long history of gathering people starting with themed sleepovers in our backyard. I’ve always had a desire for intentional gatherings that foster depth and connection. Throughout the pandemic, I have continued to facilitate meaningful community virtually and in-person through Yellow Co., women's circles, and my upcoming event Rain or Shine.
The term “matrescence” refers to the motherhood journey and the process of becoming a mother. Meadow is approaching her 2nd birthday, but take us back to your pregnancy journey. What did you learn about yourself during pregnancy? How did pregnancy differ in reality from your expectations?
KP: My pregnancy journey taught me to trust my instincts, stay the course, and advocate for myself. I switched providers after around 27 weeks once we started to lean towards wanting to give birth at a birthing center. I learned how my love of research, holistic health, and ritual benefited me in preparing my mind, body, and heart for birth.
My expectations included a lot of fear. Having been adopted, as well as being one of the first of our close friends to have a child, the "type-A hippie" in me didn't like being in the unknown. This place of the unknown was a beautiful container in which to lean into the contraction and expansion that ultimately brought me closer to myself. I also had the expectation that I'd be near friends for a Mother Blessing—a ceremony held in addition or as an alternative to a baby-shower that honors the transition into motherhood. The reality turned out to be beyond a little different as it was 2020 and no one was leaving their homes. I'm grateful for the options to connect virtually and the time I had with my husband to be in the ebbs and flows of pregnancy together. While he could not attend appointments with me, we took virtual classes together, met with our doula, and went on a babymoon in an RV. Pam England best describes these stages of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum as a labyrinth, which has been a helpful metaphor for me.
My pregnancy journey taught me to trust my instincts, stay the course, and advocate for myself.
Tell us about the fourth trimester and how you acclimated to being mama to Meadow. How did you change? How did your family dynamics change? How did you prioritize your wellness? Is there anything you wish had been different?
KP: The fourth trimester is such a sacred time, one I thought I had planned well for, and yet, it was harder than I expected to embody the knowledge I had of the 5 pillars of the fourth trimester. My body needed to heal and my brain wanted to take care of things by myself; I was surprised by how I wasn't able to prioritize my wellness the same way as before. Looking back, there were definitely times in this season that my anxiety and depression were more prominent than I was even aware of.
What I think isn't spoken about often enough, in the media or in conversation, is the partner's acclimation to parenthood as well. I think holding space for patrescence was also something that came into our dynamics at this time. The massive change in how a new parent spends their time, along with the emotional and physiological changes in the brain, is a part of the rite of passage into parenthood. This personal transformation requires support. I feel very connected to this movement of “revillaging”, a returning of sorts to the way neighbors in villages would show up for each other, which requires a cultural shift in how we view and care for motherhood as well. I personally wish I had practiced receiving support, whether from a postpartum doula or a support circle such as Mothership Rising. It is very clear to me now how we need to mother the mother just as we do the baby.
August is National Breastfeeding Month, a time to focus on empowering and supporting all mothers and birthing people to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals. Did you breastfeed Meadow? Can you tell us about the positives and negatives of your breastfeeding experience?
KP: It was such a privilege to be able to breastfed Meadow for 15 months. Breastfeeding her was a magical experience where I got to connect with and nourish, while also being painful and frustrating at times. It took us a while to find our flow. I leaned on encouragement and tips from friends, help from some goat’s milk as well as trusting my inner knowing for when it was time to end.
My body needed to heal and my brain wanted to take care of things by myself; I was surprised by how I wasn't able to prioritize my wellness the same way as before. Looking back, there were definitely times in this season that my anxiety and depression were more prominent than I was even aware of.
You are currently developing matrescence-specific programming for mothers, with a planned event for October 2022. Can you tell us about the genesis of this concept, and what we can expect from the event?
KP: The concept for Rain or Shine began in 2018 when I first heard of the term matrescence. It planted a seed in me that motherhood is a rite of passage, an ongoing journey that affects and transforms every aspect of one's life. I became more familiar with this concept when I created a room for mothers to rest and nourish themselves or their baby throughout a two-day conference for Yellow Co in 2019. After having Meadow, I was determined to learn more about what I was experiencing as a new mother and how to support others. I joined a six month program with matrescence educator and women's life-cycle guide Nikki McCahon, who is based in Australia, and during this time I began to map out the details for a gathering at Hudson Loft in Los Angeles with the support of my best friend.
Rain or Shine is a one-day gathering where attendees will hear from wise women as well as participate in what we’re calling, "seasonal sessions." These sessions will be in four breakout rooms that relate different parts of motherhood to the four seasons. Women can choose based on what season of life they feel most connected to or see themselves soon approaching. Attendees will also sip, snack and shop from the "village": a marketplace of people and brands supporting them in their journey. An additional experience I’m excited for is bookending the event with digital gatherings to establish and encourage the continuation of the community and make space for personal reflection. When we can understand what we are going through and give language to it, we can move forward with greater compassion and hope.
We have to talk skincare. What is your current skincare regimen? What do you look for in your skincare products?
KP: I keep it simple: every night I use the Matrescence skincare trio and dab on some eye cream. In the AM, I splash water on my face to help wake me up followed by some mineral spf moisturizer, and once a week I'll exfoliate. I look for products that are as thoughtfully made as possible– this means taking our health and environment into consideration when it comes to the processing, ingredients and packaging.
Using the skincare trio from pregnancy and beyond has been a nightly ritual. I love when I reach for it and see the word "matrescence," how I'm reminded of this on-going journey that requires a lot of self-compassion and care.
And now some fun stuff! Tell us:
What are three things you never leave the house without?
A snack, my phone and currently- the travel potty. (if you know you know).
Are you a coffee mama or a tea mama?
Both. Most days I make a Mizuba matcha latte and on days I think I can handle it, I have coffee.
You have one completely uninterrupted afternoon – no partner, no child, no work. What do you do?
I would go to a coffee shop, one that also has delicious food and that perfect spot by a window (or maybe a movement class first, how long is this afternoon?!) do some reading, work on some projects because creating makes me feel alive and then explore a thrift store, I could go on...alone time is so refueling for me.
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