Mandy Moore is opening up about her first months as a new mother and revealing some of the difficulties she’s faced during postpartum around her identity, friendships and parenthood responsibilities, particularly during the pandemic. During an Instagram conversation with clinical psychologist and perinatal mental health specialist Dr. Ashurina Ream, the actress and singer spoke candidly about how her “preconceived notions” of herself as a parent were quickly met by the realities of actual motherhood.
“Obviously, I knew it was going to be challenging, but I thought, ‘Oh, I maybe have this sort of naturally maternal side,’ whatever the heck that means,” Moore explained. “But I guess I just didn’t really recognize the worries, the fears, the sense of responsibility that is so ever-present moving forward once you become a mom.”
The This Is Us star said that her imagining of motherhood meant she would find community through events like “Mommy-and-Me classes and baby classes.” But the pandemic had shifted those possibilities, and she’s found that “the isolation is something, again, that’s been really surprising.” “I’m sure that’s a reality for some people in different parts of the country, but I don’t know if it’s something that I would feel necessarily the most comfortable with at this point in time, just considering what we’re kind of living through,” Moore said. “And so it’s having to reframe these expectations that you’ve had about what it’s like to be a mom and what it’s like to connect with people. The isolation is something that’s really hit me that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.”
But it’s not just the pandemic that’s created those feelings of loneliness. Moore admitted that she personally doesn’t “have a ton of friends who have babies,” and getting out there to meet a new community of moms that she could “bounce” ideas off of can be “intimidating” for her, a self-described shy person. “Without thinking about it, you reprioritize everything in life,” Moore explained. “I found it hard at times, so far even five months in, maintaining friendships because everybody’s sort of in different seasons of their lives. I personally don’t have a ton of friends who have babies. I have friends that have kids that are a little older. So it was hard to find community and [put] yourself out there.”
While the actress-singer said her pregnancy left her feeling “on top of the world,” once she had the baby, those feelings were replaced by feelings of inadequacy, especially as her 5-month-old’s needs have changed. “I just felt this rush of like, ‘I’m not good enough for him. I don’t know how to be his mom. I know how to feed him, but beyond that, am I suited for this?’” she said. “I just felt so ineffective, and I would look at my husband, who just seemed to have a supernatural ability to take care of Gus. Like, he could make him smile. He could make him laugh. He would get on the floor and roll around with him. And I just felt like whatever I did, it just wasn’t right, and I couldn’t get him to sleep, and it made me feel horrible.”
Moore says these feelings can be exacerbated by the images of her friends online, “living this like seemingly picture-perfect existence.” But she’s trying to process her “unrealistic expectations” and “show myself some grace.” “I think it’s always been within me to be hard on myself and have these expectations of like, ‘Oh, I love kids. I don’t have a ton of experience around babies and children, but I just feel it’s gonna come naturally to me, and I’m going to feel entirely comfortable in this position,’” Moore elaborated.
“There are parts of it that do feel really comfortable and other parts that have surprised me. I don’t — I feel inadequate.” Through this, Moore has also questioned her evolving sense of self, with the actress sharing that’s she still trying to “stay connected to myself and my identity outside of just being a mom” but acknowledges that she will constantly be asking herself “who I am as Mandy, what I bring to the table, what I bring as Gus’ mom.”
During the conversation, Moore also shared that she truly has a new appreciation for matriarch Rebecca Pearson and has even thought about getting a do-over regarding her role on the hit NBC series. “I know it’s a television show and it’s not a reality show, but still it’s like this is a woman who didn’t have a village — she had a supportive partner but also a supportive partner who had a job — and was sort of left to her own devices with triplets. I don’t know how she did it, and I felt that way initially, but now having one child, I’m, ‘It’s like a whole new ballgame for me,’” Moore said. “I kind of joke around, like, ‘Can I go back now? Can we start the series from the beginning because I just have some little inkling now what it’s like to be a parent that I didn’t before?’”
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.