I am a mom. That is my whole identity a lot of the time.It is the role that is most prominent in my life and the role I am most proud of. Just look at the content of this blog and all of my social media profiles. They are all FILLED with mommy stuff. And if you took a glance at how I spend my day, the majority of my time is spent on mom and wife duties. I fold laundry and wipe butts. As a breastfeeding mom, a good chunk of my day includes having a sweet little baby attached to my boob.
Your Identity After Kids
I can very quickly fall into the trap of losing myself in being a stay-at-home mom, forgetting who I was before kids. Once upon a time, I was a girl who enjoyed Budweiser and dancing, who had a jam-packed social calendar and did things that weren’t planned! I had hobbies and nails that were always perfectly manicured. I spent time with my friends whenever I wanted to, and I had a lot of friends. No small humans were around to poop themselves in a grocery store and screw up my day.
The thing is, I am still that girl. She is down in there somewhere. One of the most restorative things I can do is allow myself to reconnect with who I am outside of my kids and remember that I am a human being first, and everything else second. My babies are my everything, my whole world, and I would not trade the laundry and the dirty diapers for the world. But, I am more than that.
When You Lose Sight of Your Identity
When you are parenting little children, especially as a stay-at-home-parent, it is so easy to start feeling disconnected to the rest of the world and other parts of yourself. There are times when you feel proud, joyous, filled with love for these tiny humans and so incredibly purposeful in your role. You think that this is who you are meant to be and this is what life is all about. And it is – it ABSOLUTELY is. But remembering that you are more than that is important. One day your kids will grow up and start lives apart from you, and you will be left to figure out what life looks like without raising kids.
I thought that having babies would give me my place in the world. I was under the misconception that becoming a mother completes a woman’s existence. It doesn’t. Yes, having my babies has given me purpose, motivation, and a reason to be my best. But it has also highlighted for me the areas of myself that need the most work. You will never look at yourself as perspicaciously as you will after you are a parent. Having small, innocent eyes looking at you all the time will make you uncomfortably aware of every character flaw, every bit of baggage.
They are watching. They are ALWAYS watching. That’s why is is more important than ever that we mothers do the work and spend time figuring out who we are! If you already have a solid sense of identity, make sure you nurture that! My mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I would list things I need for my kids. So she repeated the question, “What do YOU want?” What a crazy thought! What do I want? Who the heck knows! Time to do some digging and figure that out. What is important to me? What, other than wonderful husband and my two beautiful babies, makes me happy?
My Own Journey Toward Identity
If you have read my post on raising girls, you know I have started to really work on myself, investing more time into personal development and giving myself permission to take care of myself. I wish I could say I was one of those women who completed their bucket list and established a meaningful career before having kids, but that’s just not me. While everyone was traveling, getting their Masters, and living an uncommitted life, I was getting married and buying a house with my husband. I do NOT regret any of that, but I do think that I missed some things by settling down so early in life. (I was twenty two.) So I am getting to know myself now.
What That Looks Like For Me
I have been reading – a lot.
It’s football season right now. In my house, that always translates to me reading next to my husband while he watches whatever super important game is on. I have been electing to read nonfiction this year, instead of a new novel series. Finding authors who speak to you can do wonders in opening your mind and allowing you to apply their wisdom to your life and experiences.
I have been not to feel guilty about leaving my husband with his own kids.
Dude . . . why do we do this?! Why is it so hard to leave the kids with their OTHER PARENT? It isn’t babysitting. They are his kids. He can do it. He SHOULD do it. So go. Leave. Get out of the house and let your spouse figure out how to keep the kids alive. It’s good for everybody and you need it.
I have been saying “no.”
This is magical. You only have time for the things you MAKE TIME FOR. You won’t have time to give to yourself if you are giving your time to everybody else. That includes your husband or your kids. What are your priorities? Do you want to spend more time exercising? With your girlfriends? With absolutely no one else on the couch with coffee and a book? In order to have that time, something (or someone) else has to be told no. Stop saying yes to every favor and every invitation. Make what you need a priority.
I have been saying no to staying up late with my hubby so that I can wake up early to read, write, and exercise. But Mommy and Daddy do need time alone, so I have been saying no to my son when he wants to stay up late.
I have been saying no to friends and family who extend invitations, when I myself am already overextended.
I have been examining my past.
Reading old journals has been eye-opening, as has spending time in reflection. I have been thinking about how my past has shaped me and what I learned about the world and myself through my experiences. I have been STUDYING myself as I were studying for a test. What can I generalize about my personality? It is important to figure out what I have always liked, always disliked, things that have motivated me and things I have never allowed myself to experience. I believe that although human beings do evolve and grow during the course of a lifetime, some aspects of a personality are intrinsic. Your need to feed your soul, and you have to know who you are to do that.
What I Am Learning
My kids are my world. And because my husband keeps the lights on, I sometimes think that I have to do everything else. I don’t. It is a disservice to them for their wife and mother to not be a whole person.What I am learning, and what I want every mother to learn, is that even though you doing the most important job on earth, there is still space for you to do more. There is space for you to be YOU and not just who you are to others. When we become mothers, there is a massive shift in identity, on our outlook on life, on our priorities.
It is biological and essential that we be laser-focused on raising our babies. God made us this way and it is of no use to deny it or try to escape it. Rather, I think it is vital that we take time every once in a while to examine where we are. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed and lose sight of who you are. Nurture your relationship with yourself as you would any other relationship. Do what you can when you can, and ask for help if your soul is not being fed.
How does the woman you were before kids compare with who you are after becoming a mom?
What do you wish you had more time for?
What are your biggest obstacles in taking tame for yourself?