Through her own struggles to find space for herself and debilitating sleep deprivation, Johanna Rossi has found a way to connect to mamas on the same path, and herself.
Reading Johanna Rossi’s purpose for starting Raising Women is like reading my own mission statement. As she says: “I believe that every woman deserves a chance to become the best version of herself and live the best version of life in her own unique way. My mission is to help mothers strike a healthy balance between raising babies and raising their woman within.”
Pretty amazing stuff, considering the devastating sleep deprivation and healing Johanna has had to face in her own mamahood journey.
Motherhood can do that though, can’t it?
It has the potential (and often does) to break us down to such a shell of ourselves, we wonder if we will ever rise again. But it in that breaking, we also have the potential to become the women we are meant to be: strong, resilient, compassionate.
That’s the choice we have. And that’s the choice Johanna has made.
“I always wanted to be a mum, however I think I was completely naive about what being a mum really entailed. Before babies, I studied interior architecture at university and worked for 18 months as a children’s clothes designer for The Walt Disney Company in London. I then moved to Monaco to be with my husband and worked as a freelance graphic designer. After that, I worked as the right arm for a fashion photographer called Amedeo Turello. My husband comes from a family of restaurant owners and in 2007 we opened our own restaurant here in Monte-Carlo, and we then had our son in November 2008.
Those early days and months were really difficult! I had a really traumatic birth and was in shock and a lot of pain for the first month. I also didn’t take well to the sudden changes that motherhood brought to my life. I found it incredibly isolating. I had troubles with breastfeeding and suffered from terrible sleep deprivation.
The lack of sleep has been debilitating at times and a source of huge frustration. I have such an active and creative mind and have felt physically handicapped by the effects of sleep deprivation on my body. There is also that pull of wanting to sleep and wanting that bit of time to just be and create. 8 years in and I still have broken nights and have years to catch up on. I try to be disciplined about getting to bed by 10pm, but it’s not always possible.
To be honest I’ve got through the awful days because I had to.
Living away from family has been really hard and my husband was always at the restaurant, so I had no choice. I had to push through and step up. That’s meant I had some very dark days, but these now are a reminder for me to make sure I’m getting to bed at a decent hour.
“The change from one child to two was definitely easier than I thought it would be. Sure, it was hard in the beginning, but I had a very different birth, and that was so uplifting for me and I was so so grateful for that experience. I was also very aware about the sleep deprivation so spent the first two weeks at home napping with her. I actually find it harder now somedays trying to cut myself in so many pieces so that everyone has my attention.
Trying to answer what my strength has been over this time is actually a really hard question for me to answer right now, as I don’t feel very strong at the moment. I’m not someone who is very confident about my strength. As much as being a mother has taken away a lot of my strength, it is also the thing that has given me strength and keeps me going. My children are everything to me so I do it for them.
Looking after myself is also something I am working on. I’ve always been very good with feeding myself properly as I have had so many digestive issues due to chronic stress and sleep deprivation. However the journey of Raising Women has also been about me learning how to take care of myself. I spent many of my teen years and early twenties in fight or flight mode and surviving – in some ways I feel that that has never left me. I’m not good at just ‘being’ and going easy on myself.
“I created Raising Women as my way of exploring how I was feeling during this whole journey, and I hope it does the same for others. I hope that the connections that are made through my messages and through the stories that are shared will be the facilitator for helping other women to feel less alone in whatever it is that they are struggling with. For me being a happy mama is being a woman who can fulfil her potential as a woman, while also feeling like she can mother in her own unique way.
And if I could go back and tell yourself one thing before I started mamahood, what would it be?
Even though you will never feel it, you will be enough.
Johanna Rossi is a holistic health coach, passionate creative and supporter of women. She is the host of the Raising Women Podcast and a global community of like minded women at Raising Women. Follow her story and inspiration here.