Having an Identity Outside of Motherhood
I have been searching for “me” recently. I think that having children has really blurred my sense of self. My husband never thought I would be a very good mother. He assumed that I would be too selfish. I can honestly say that I think I have surprised us both. I am caring, (fairly) compassionate, hard-working and I would venture to say selfless. Yes, selfless. This was a pretty huge revelation. I have put everyone else’s needs above my own. I tend to assume everyone is busier, everyone is more tired and everyone is more stressed. At some point I decided that my needs would be put on the back burner - always. I have two kids, who are completely dependent, on me, and that is simply the reality of having young children. I have also realized that I cannot keep up this pace.
Motherhood looks so fabulous in the diaper commercials, smiling babies crawling around with a big padded booty, giving slobbery kisses and giggling. They don’t mention the 2am diaper blowouts, changing sheets in the dark and the impromptu middle of the night bath. All before coaxing them back to sleep an hour later. We have this idea of what a mother should be, kind, patient, happy, loving, and fulfilled with the joy of being a mom. Motherhood is one of the most difficult jobs on this planet; it is all encompassing with both intense frustration and immense joy. Nevertheless, despite the thousands of “parenting guides” there is no instruction book that can adequately prepare you for the shear greatness of the title.
"I felt robbed of myself. I was unable to identify as anything but MOM. Where did the rest of me go and would it ever return? Much like my new saggy breasts and jiggly tummy- it takes a lot of work to find yourself within your new context. "
I know too many women whom feel guilty; due to their new reality not being as fulfilling as they assumed it would or should be, myself included. I felt robbed of myself. I was unable to identify as anything but MOM. Where did the rest of me go and would it ever return? Much like my new saggy breasts and jiggly tummy- it takes a lot of work to find yourself within your new context. I still need date nights and adult conversation. I need strong margaritas and a good reason to get out of yoga pants. I need to exercise my brain in interesting and challenging ways that have nothing to do with child rearing. I need reminders that I am more than “just a mom”. Yes, there are days that I want to start taking shots of whiskey before 9 am. There are days I wonder what my life would be like without the constant pressure of children. Some days I wonder what I could have done different and if I should have married someone that didn’t want children. There are days when a simple trip to Target ends up in flailing fits and screaming matches. There are days I want to cry alone in my closet and hope that no one comes to find me, but even in the depths of despair and frustration, I love my children passionately.
Someday they will grow up and spread their wings, God willing, and I don’t want to look back and wish we had spent more precious moments together. They only get one childhood and I want it to be full of adventure as well as fun. We brought these sweet beings into this world and I want to explore it with them. I want to have lazy mornings cuddling on the couch and fun afternoons at the museum. I needed to find a delicate balance or risk losing everything.
Through years of conversations over margaritas, there are some keys to help avoid a complete identity crisis:
1. Redefine your new normal. Adding the role of “mom” to your job title can be overwhelming. Mom incorporates so many roles under one umbrella. You are no longer simply responsible for yourself; you are the very giver of life to another human being. That is heavy. Sometimes the weight can become too much until you begin to shift your idea of self to encompass your new reality. You are a woman who is a mom, but you are not JUST a mom. That phrase makes my blood boil. Just a mom. The best part about being a mom is that you still are allowed to define how you want that role to look. Will you stay home with the kiddos, will you continue your career, or will you find something in-between? How does your previous life fit into the world of motherhood?
2. Create a village. Find your support system. I cannot stress this enough. Becoming a parent can weed out your pool of friends pretty quickly. It becomes vital to cultivate a solid group of moms, friends and family that are invested in your life. You need friends that will let you vent to them about your child’s battle with constipation and commiserate with the fact that you haven’t showered in 3 days and aren’t grossed out that you are still wearing yesterday’s shirt. Maintain family connections, even if just over the phone or Facetime every week. Join a neighborhood mommy group, allowing for regular conversations with adults in the same phase of life. Find a fantastic preschool or church with a solid sense of community. Our ancestors were right, if truly does take a village to raise a child.
3. Find a hobby. Find something that is just yours. Reading, knitting, writing, crafts, painting, working out, gardening…anything that makes your soul content. Find something that is your own activity without a MOM label attached to it. Did you use to play an instrument? Make time for it, schedule your outlet into your routine and make it a priority.
4. Ask for help. We are all supermoms, but even Batman had Robin and a butler. We all need help. If you aren’t asking for help then chances are good that you are running on fumes.
5. Give yourself a break. You are doing the best that you can. You are a beautiful mother working her ass off to make life amazing and that is enough. You are enough. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect. The important part is that you are trying. There is a big spectrum and most of us are in the middle making it happen. Making those kids into competent, loving, caring and well-ish adjusted individuals. Take a deep breath, give yourself a break, pour a glass of wine and remember, tomorrow brings a new opportunity for growth.
Being a mother is a difficult job but it is also one of the most rewarding jobs you can do. If you need help tapping into your inner Goddess contact Cupid's Planner. We specialize in the empowerment and sexual freedom of women. Also do not forget to like us on Facebook or to follow us on Twitter.
A Special thank you Meagan Solomon of the Memoirs of a Modern Mom.
Meagan Holt Solomon is a writer, mom and lover of champagne living in Houston, Texas. She spends her days raising two lovely kiddos, reading smutty novels and trying to maintain her sanity whilst muddling through her thirties. Most days you can find her on Facebook writing Memoirs of a Modern Mom, an irreverent and honest view of parenting and life through the mommy lens. You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org