The Identity Crisis Period Of Motherhood.
Let’s face it, you’re not the same “you” that you were.
It’s one of the many things women deal with during the transition from a woman to a mom. I don’t know why we always expect ourselves to just assume this new role without issues. Maybe it’s because we never hear or talk about the really hard stuff, the mental struggles that come with this new role we assume. Well the silence ends here. Let’s get real.
Motherhood is a beautiful, wonderful thing. That is what everyone will tell you and you know what? They’re not lying. It is an incredible thing. But sometimes, we may feel pressured to look like we have it all together when in reality, there’s a huge learning curve to navigating this foreign identity.
I mean just a short time ago, the only person you had to care for was yourself, and you already knew what you liked and what you didn’t, and you could gauge when you needed to eat and sleep. But now, you have another human (or more) that you are solely responsible for. All their needs, wants, and skills, it’s now your job to figure out, fulfill and teach this person how to be, well, a person.
It’s not easy and it takes up most of your time these days. With such a big, new job on your hands, you may find yourself giving up time you normally would have had to yourself. As moms, we often give up a lot of the things we once loved to do before. This can sometimes cause a gap to form between who we were and who we are now. I call this the “Motherhood Identity Crisis.”
After we’ve been through the newness and things start to slow back down a bit, you may find yourself feeling a little bit down, lost or even depressed. You may feel like you are the only one who feels this way. There’s good news, though. You’re not alone and these feelings are totally normal.
I know there is a sour stigma with anything related to mental health issues and I think this is the reason we often fear discussing the hardest battles we fight when no one else is around to see. When I had my children, I was absolutely head over heels in love with them the moment I heard that first little cry. And I did my time with the feedings every hour or two and the sleepless nights for months. But once all that slowed down, I began to feel more depressed than relieved, even more so with m y second. I didn’t know why and I thought I was the only one so there must be something wrong with me until I finally confided in a few close mom friends as well as my own mother, most of whom were also stay at home moms. What I found was that every single one I spoke to had gone through the same thing.
They told me how they sometimes missed the person that they used to be, the things they used to do and the total freedom that came with being a single adult with no children. They told me that at first, they too, felt lost and that they found themselves cancelling plans constantly to stay in instead.
Going through this period was rough, but we were all able to overcome it by realizing that, yes, indeed our former selves were no longer apart of our day to day lives, yet we truly did love our new lives with our spouses and our children. So we had to deal with this the way we dealt with joining the motherhood club and every other problem since then; we’d figure it out as we go.
For me, I still liked listening to my music and taking long showers, but found I never had time. So I made the time by fitting it into the little spaces throughout my day to day routine. It took some time to pair my likes with the right activities that the kids could also be apart of, but after a short period of trial and error, we found a way to sync my likes to their current abilities and interests. For example, now, the kids and I listen to my music when we clean the house and we have a dance party while we do it. If I can’t wait until their bedtime for a long steaming shower, I’ll bring them with me with some measuring cups that they collect water in and pour into other plastic ware.
I also used to go shopping all the time, but obviously when you add two kids to the household, it’s not always in the budget to do it as often anymore. So we compromised by taking trips to the mall once a week with a five dollar bill and a fifty-cent roll of pennies. The kids get to play in the indoor play area, we get to walk around and get a snack together like a pretzel or cookie, and the kids get to throw coins into the fountain and ride the elevator. Simply being where I used to spend a lot of my time with old friends helps tremendously (even if I’m not doing as much shopping as I used to.)
I also used to walk and jog a lot, and my kids love to be outside, so now we pack a bunch of snacks, the jogging stroller and we go for a walk together. The stroller is there if they get tired or need a break to eat their snacks and it doesn’t hinder me if I want to keep going.
Another huge passion of mine was being in the kitchen and exploring new recipes. Now, I just pull up two stools and let my kids help me with the easy stuff like stirring, pouring, and sifting. They absolutely love it.
So in reality, even though the “me” that I used to be and the freedom I used to have is not the same, I can still do the things that bring me joy by tweaking either what we do or how much I pack, to include my children. Actually, I have found that sharing the things I love most in life with my children (and my husband when he joins us) has filled my life with purpose, too. I feel like I’m rocking motherhood when we can all be happy and have fun doing things that fill my own self-care love tank.
It’s funny that when we are down or depressed, the thing we want to do the least is the thing we need to do the most; get out of the house. Find a way to do those things you used to love so much and include your children. Even my husband has adopted this process.
For example, when he needs a break after a long, stressful day, he may want to come home and play video games, and he does. He’ll set up a game, like his fishing & hunting one, pull the recliner close to the TV, plop one of the kids on his lap and give them a wireless controller that’s not plugged in. He’ll play for hours talking to the kids and the kids always think they’re actually playing along, enjoying their special time with daddy, even on those days he just needs a break.
I’m a huge believer and a preacher that self-care isn’t selfish and mental health is just as important as physical health. I think it’s important to be vocal about our struggles so others realize it’s okay to discuss things that upset us and when life isn’t always perfect. So naturally, another key that helped pull me out of my funk was simply having someone to talk to about how I was feeling. And as a matter of fact, the best listener I have is my single, childless best friend, and she does everything she can to treat me as the same person I was freshman year and help me manage the new changes I have to make all our old activities doable with two small children.
So yes, you may not be the person you used to be with all the freedoms or the free time, but you can still marry the two versions of yourself and become the best “you” that you can be for your family. There are always ways to implement your old joys into your new life, the key is just trying it out; finding what you need to make this work with your new routine and your new responsibilities. And don’t ever be afraid to open up about your obstacles to your friends. You’d be surprised how many of them have been there, too.
As always, you’ve got this, Momma.
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