Is motherhood my identity now? Yes, I’m a mom, but is that all? How can I feel like a mom and a person, too—one who has wants and dreams alongside raising my family? I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore except that I’m a mom.
You love your children and want to be an involved and attentive parent. Even though you are in many ways living the dream you’d hoped to and are now a mom, motherhood is also a 24/7 role that dramatically changes your lifestyle and day-to-day existence. It’s not uncommon to feel like the person you once were, the woman you always were, is somehow no longer present … but maybe you miss her sometimes, right? Like this mom who shares:
I used to like music. I went to concerts, danced with friends. I had a social life. I’ve let go of many things I used to enjoy. I eat out less. I travel less. I see my friends less. I’ve seen two movies in the theater in the past year, and both have been cartoons. It isn’t that I don’t love being a mother. I really do.
But I’m still living in the transition from who I used to be, to who I am now. So many parts about my life have changed, and I’m struggling to catch up with myself. (www.amotherfarfromhome.com)
Struggling to find the balance between the role of motherhood and your personal identity can also lead to inner turmoil that goes deeper than craving your former lifestyle, as this mom shares:
It was something more subtle, yet much deeper, that nearly took me out as a momma. Something nobody else warned me about—I lost my identity. Then, I grew depressed. After that, I felt guilty for feeling for depressed. That’s when the shame set in.
My self-talk went something like this: “I haven’t talked to anyone who could even tie a shoe in days. I spend all of my time with these babies. What about the goals I had for my life? Will I ever be able to accomplish them? These four walls feel like a prison. [Insert depressed feelings]. Ugh, I just want to sleep. I’m so tired. Wait, I shouldn’t feel this way [Insert guilt]. These kids are a gift. A blessing from God. I should be doing a better job caring for them. I’m going to mess them up if I keep worrying like this. And who am I to be feeling this way? [Insert shame]. My husband has a job where I get to stay home with them. Shouldn’t I feel happy to be at home with my kids? I can’t believe I’m so ungrateful. I’m an awful person.”(www.joshuastraub.com)
Should you find yourself experiencing more than occasional feelings of depression, guilt, or shame while transitioning through motherhood, please know that we’re here at Body Mind Consultancy to help—and you don’t have to face your feelings alone. You can schedule a free 1:1 discovery session anytime and receive guided assistance to feeling more healthy and balanced.
But, keep in mind, too, that there are ways that you can reclaim your identity within motherhood and actions you can take to start to feel like yourself—and maybe even find yourself—again:
- Tune in. Your life and identity will never look exactly like it did pre-motherhood, and that’s okay. You have changed in ways, your life has evolved, and there is more to your identity now as a mother. But making moves to consciously stay connected with your personal interests and who you are, not just your role, will make a big difference in reclaiming yourself.
- Daily self-care. Telling yourself that “no one sees you at home anyway but your children” isn’t true, because you see you. Taking a few moments to put yourself together in a way that you feel presentable is important for your wellbeing. Put the baby or toddler in the crib and take a shower. Pick out an outfit or style your hair in a way that makes you feel like you—for you. Tuning into yourself and taking a few moments to dress and style yourself will help you touch base, daily, with yourself.
- Connect in new ways. Feeling lonely and isolated is a main challenge for many moms, but the key is to connect with friends and fellow parents in new and different ways than you did before you were a parent. Instead of nights out or coffee dates, schedule playdates; instead of going to the movies or out to restaurants, try meeting at the park or a local playground.
- Make time. While it may seem difficult to create time for yourself, it’s imperative to pursue your hobby, attend a workshop or weekly class, join a book club, take walks, hikes, bike rides … Even small amounts of time spent on activities you enjoy outside of parenting will strengthen your connection with yourself (not to mention offer you small breaks to relax, a necessary part of showing up healthy and whole as the mom that you are).
- Enlist help. When you’re continually feeling weary and overwhelmed, it’s difficult to focus on anything clearly much less try to intentionally reclaim your identity. Whether you need to hire someone, swap babysitting with a fellow mom, or ask family members to come for a few hours, protect your wellbeing in order to have the strength and energy for both your family and yourself.
Making small moves, consciously and with intention, to reclaim your identity and feel like yourself in your role as a mom will make big differences over time. Your identity isn’t lost, but it has evolved to include being a woman who is also a mom—accepting and enjoying yourself as both is a beautiful thing.