Losing Your Identity in Motherhood
Oh sweet friend you are not alone. Today’s Love Mother podcast episode comes from a vulnerable place. I am going to share with you how this played out in my life. We are going to talk about how as moms we get to the point where we lose ourselves, we lose our identity and how we wade our way through to find a better version of ourselves.
But there is definitely a messy middle we are going to discuss. Because getting from the point to lost and found has a whole lot of mess in between.
So first, we are going to talk about why. We we lose our identity once we become a mom and how the more kids we have, the harder it might be to find it again!
I want to start off with some encouragement though because you are not lost even though you may feel that way right now. You are in process, you are evolving into a better version of yourself. You are becoming more, God uses motherhood to sanctify us greatly. You are becoming a Godlier, wiser, deeper, more connected version of yourself.
In so many ways the birth of our first child births a new version of us and it is ok to grieve parts of the old version, but when we accept that, yes, even though motherhood is crazy hard sometimes it is also the most incredible gift. Not only because we have these amazing tiny humans to love forever but we become better people in the process.
If you ask me, mothers are the strongest form of human on the planet. We are strong, we are soft, we are someones safe place, we are love, we are life giving, we are problem solvers, we are action takers, we are advocates, we are resilient, we are amazing.
I am so thankful God made me a woman, God made me a mother. It truly is the greatest gift I have ever been given. Sure there are parts of me I will forever miss, freedom being the biggest one but I know I could never have grown into the version of me I am today without the gift of motherhood.
Ok so let’s identify some of the why’s of why we lose ourselves and then we will talk about how we can find our (better, more amazing) selves again.
Moms lose their identity because freedom to do and go as we please is gone
I am starting here because this was the biggest impact on me. I am someone who really enjoys freedom, I know we all do to some point but I REALLY enjoy freedom. Alone time to do and go as I please, the ability to move out of any negative or hard situation, to chase all my crazy dreams, to eat what I want, to work out when I want, to sleep when I want…it was all gone.
It didn’t take long after staying awake 2 days straight off pure adrenaline and love after the birth off my oldest Lilia to realize life and my freedom would never be the same again.
I think so often when we are pregnant we think that baby is just going to adapt to our life but we quickly realize its the other way around. That can be tricky to navigate and we will get there but let’s talk about another reason we lose our identity to motherhood first.
Moms lose their identity because all of a sudden our life now revolves around our kids
It starts off with their feeding schedule. It doesn’t take long to realize that these tiny humans must be fed in short regular intervals, or there crazy side comes out! Then it’s their sleeping schedule. Sure, some babies are more easy going and will nap wherever but Lilia very quickly taught me the world was overwhelming for her and that she needed to go back to sleep every hour or so or she would become an overtired raging maniac who would scream and cause me to have crying meltdowns in public because I felt like the worse mom ever!
Then we move into those ever so sanctifying toddler years. Well God made toddlers to teach moms a thing or two that’s for sure! It starts around 15 months where they start pulling out or pulling off everything they can get those tiny grubby hands on. Ripping pages out of books, dumping out the dog food and water (and eating it too) putting sand in their mouth, somehow finding a black sharpie and drawing all over your walls, and your white duvet cover and oh the toilet paper roll! We can’t forget how that becomes the favourite toy ever to unroll and put it everywhere, rip it up and while we are in the bathroom get the toothpaste and smear it all over the place too. Toddlers aren’t for the faint of heart. Good thing they are so dang cute at this age too with all the ways they are learning and growing.
So, very quickly we learn that our life now revolves around the tiny humans and that our pregnancy dreams of packing them up for an all day shopping trip, or girls weekend where they will just adapt and sleep and do so great or just so unrealistic! P.S. I hear when your oldest turns babysitting age the freedom comes back so hold on mamas!
Moms lose their identity because their job used to be so important and now its non existent, less hours or completely changed
Likely before you became a mom you had a job. Pre kids your job was likely your biggest responsibility. You got dressed up for the office or left super early in the morning for a long commute, arriving home late in the evening. You may have loved your job and really felt important in the work that you did.
I was a hair stylist and I loved it. But I learned quickly that my clients don’t care if my baby didn’t sleep or was sick (I mean they cared but they still wanted their hair done) My long 12 hour days were no longer possible and the hour I used to spend getting ready, picking out my outfit, putting on makeup and doing my hair was no longer existent.
Then I got pregnant again when my first was only 8 months old, so I worked as a receptionist in a spa for a time because rebuilding my hair clientele just to leave them again didn’t seem fair to them or me.
All this to say my working life changed dramatically and I adapted as I needed to. At one time having a salon in my house to work at nap times and when my husband was home. When I had two little ones I worked an evening and weekend job at a casino to contribute to our family income but not to miss out on time with my kids. Then I pivoted into learning a new career in web design and blogging and content creating so I could work from home whenever I could because I realized my biggest and most important job was being present for my kids but knowing I still wanted something else to fulfill my passions and provide for my family.
Some women jump right back into work and their babies start going to daycare from 6 weeks old (come on United States give these mamas a decent maternity leave) but the feeling of missing their child grow up weighs heavy on their heart.
Some moms choose to quit their jobs to focus on raising their family.
Some moms simply work less hours and find a balance.
But no matter what, your career or working life forever changes in some way or another, even if it doesn’t actually tangibly change because you develop this sense of mom guilt where you time seems so divided
And it is going to take some time and some talking with God to figure out how your working life is now meant to be now that you are a mom.
Moms lose their identity because our appearance becomes far less important
I think we all fall on different scales here but I for one specifically remember being a teenage at highschool watching how some moms dressed to drop their kids off and absolutley vowing I would never be that frumpy mom.
I think I did ok with that vow when I only had one child, but as soon as I was a mom to 2 under two, my make up was no longer existent and this is when I became super comfortable with the top knot.
Then I became a foster mom and all the additional work that entailed, wow I don’t think I even looked in the mirror most days.
Now 9 years into being a mom, I have struck this sweet spot with no longer caring so much about vanity but also knowing I feel better when I spend a few minutes “getting ready” my makeup routine is now more like 5 minutes, I never wear heels anymore, I love when my hair is done and dry shampoo is my best friend.
I still like to put my best foot forward, be a good example for my 3 daughters, feel sexy for my husband and enhance the beauty God has given me. BUT my looks are no longer wrapped up in what the the world’s view of pretty is or trying to get men’s attention, or wanting my clients to see me as a fashion forward style icon. Like it was pre kids/pre marriage.
My beauty now comes more from inner work, taking care of my body, mind and soul. Developing my character into Godly attributes and not completely neglecting my outward appearance for the sake of my kids. It is a beautiful confidence that has come from being a Christ focused mother and a whole lot of messy middle from there to here.
Moms lose their identity because we never sleep the same way again
You never know true exhaustion until you become a mother. Once those little miracles join our world we are overtired, sleep deprived, hormonal and moody, over touched, and we neglect our own physical and emotional needs.
This is ok and all a part of it but it is not ok to stay there! Rest is vital, to our moods, to our abilities to our stress levels. We need to make sure we prioritize rest if we ever think we will gain back that piece of our identity. When we function from a perpetual mode of exhaustion we aren’t serving anyone well.
How we find (the better version of) ourselves again
Walk closely with the Lord
Maintaining or starting a spiritual practice where you take time daily to connect with your Lord and creator will be the biggest thing that helps you along this beautiful journey called motherhood. Read your Bible. Pray. Journal. Talk to Him. He will help you. Join a Bible study, listen to scripture on the dwell app, Mediate. MOtherhood. isbusy don’t neglect your relationship with the Lord
Take time for You
This is not overrated – You need to care for yourself in order to care for others well. Shower. Everyday. I know this may seem simple and easy to do but it’s not always. When you are a mom to littles the days can just roll into each other and any spare minute you do get, you will probably feel like sleeping or just not moving. But a shower every day will do wonders for you. And while we are on this topic spend 5-10 minutes to “get ready” whether that is a bit of makeup or blow drying your hair. Get dressed! It’s ok, if it’s into something comfy, but get out of your pj’s! You will feel much better in yoga pants and a cozy sweater then pajamas when the delivery man shows up or a neighbour pops over to borrow some milk.
These may seem like really small simple things but the act of caring for yourself for just 10-20 minutes will help prevent you from feeling like you are in this motherhood rut.
Find a Routine that Works
Humans thrive on routine. Your kids and you. As quickly as possible find a routine that serves you well. And yes, your routines will ebb and flow and certainly leave space for that and not be super rigid, but making routine a priority helps with expectations and flow in your day. It prevents that overwhelm feeling that moms so easily can get sucked into. For me the way I begin and end my day is non negotiable because at least that way, no matter what happens in between I know I have set myself up for success. I also take sleep routines for my kids very seriously. Make that a priority and you will better be able to plan out your day around their sleep schedule and set them up for success so they are not over tired and cranky inn the middle of your grocery shop trip. Look into block schedules. It really is a life changing way to set your day up for productivity and fun so that each day feels purposeful.
Focus on Your Friendships
It is very easy for friendships to get neglected in motherhood. But relationships with other woman is vital to our well being. Friendships will change for sure, especially if you are a now a mom and they are not but I encourage you to be intentional with connecting with women. Get involved with playgroups or mommy and me programs. You will meet new people in the same stage as life as you and for me….even though 9 years later our friendship has changed and we don’t see each other anymore my first “mom friend” that I met in prenatal class is near and dear to me and we have so many amazing memories of early motherhood together. Now I have a group of women that are life giving to me whether it’s playdates, or Bible studies or girls nights eating cheese and sipping wine. These relationships are so important to me as a woman and mother. I neglected intentional friendship for along time for the sake of my kids and husband and am so happy things are different today. I am a better mom and wife because of them.
While we are on the topic of relationships let’s talk about your spouse. He was the person your life revolved around before your kids and one day when those kids leave it will be you and him alone again. Divorce statistics are sad and the marriage commitment has been so downplayed in today’s culture. Be intentional. Fight for your marriage. Make him a priority. My kids know my priorities and that they are 3rd on that list. God, Greg, them.
Communication is the #1 killer of marriages today. We don’t communicate well and resentment builds. Have the hard conversations, communicate their needs, and graciously allow them to communicate theirs. Listen more than you speak, love them more than you love yourself. Don’t forget about date nights and intimacy. Make those things a priority. I’ve been with my husband for 17 years married for 12 and I love him more today than I ever have. We are a team in this parenthood thing together and we communicate our needs and show up for each other. We don’t let selfishness creep into our marriage.
Pursue your interest - Hobbies are important
Whether it’s the gym, or an art class or just time alone to read. Take some time every week to pursue something not motherhood related. For me writing, making videos and creating content to help other moms is live giving to me. I get behind my computer start typing and creating and the time passes so quickly. This right here is my passion and my hobby as well as my business! So it’s a bonus if you can turn your hobby into a business!
Macrame shop on etsy perhaps?
Ask for Help
Motherhood was never meant to be done alone. We are created for community. The saying “it takes a village” is so true. Whether is’t family or friends or hired help or a mixture of it all. You need it. Don’t try to do it all on your own.
Stay in Your Lane - Quit the comparison Game
Comparison is the thief of joy. And in our social media culture it is more prevalent than ever. The mommy wars, the opinions! It can all be too much. Stay in your lane, God gave these babies to you for a reason. You were meant to be their mother. Lean into Him not instagram. Sure get advice and read the books but also leann into your own God given mother’s intuition. No one knows your babies better than you.
Give Yourself Grace
Moms can be so hard on ourselves. Give yourself grace, know its ok to let go of some things, know its ok to instill healthy boundaries. Give yourself time, permission and space to figure it all out. Nothing changes you quite like motherhood. We change and grow every day, stop aiming for perfect or when this than that situations. Everyday is. agift you will never have this day again, be intentional, aim for excellency but be kind and gentle with yourself. You are. a mom and you are amazing. Your kids won’t remember all the little details that we lose sleep over. They want a present, calm, annd happy mom so aim for that.