Who am I?
No really what happened to me?
So I had a baby. She is a wonderful, beautiful, and smart baby girl. I prayed for her. We prayed for this. So why am I so lost? It began as a blur. My water broke and our lives changed forever. Somewhere between sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, pumping (that’s a whole other story), and figuring out what the heck I’m doing – I lost who I thought I was.
Let me tell you the saga of motherhood is something you are never quite prepared for. Whether your child is planned or a delightful surprise. Whether you have read every book or are winging it. Every child is different. Every mother is different. As a first-time mom you are a new to this world and so is your little one. So, it’s easy to become consumed in everything baby. I remember when I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I had a miscarriage before and I was devastated. We tried again for over a year with no luck. We finally decided enough is enough. Let’s refocus. Then BAM, I was pregnant. We were both ecstatic. Everyone in both our families were happily expecting the arrival of our little Princess. I mean let’s be serious how can you not love the first grandbaby on both sides!
Once, everyone finds out you are pregnant that’s all they talk about. Once the little one arrives that’s all everyone talks about. As your little one grows that’s all YOU talk about. She said her first word. She can stand on her own. She is walking. She is talking. Then you realize that when you talk to your friends all you guys talk about are your kids. You feel bad for going to work because you are a mother. You feel bad for wanting a minute to yourself because you are a mother. Date night? Go out? I can’t leave my child. I’m a mother. Mommy guilt is real guys!
Don’t get me wrong I love being a mom. My daughter is the best thing I have done in life but as she gets older I have realized that I need to make time for me. I can’t be the best mom if I don’t take care of myself. I think we all lose ourselves. Not just as mothers. Before I was a mom I struggled with keeping my identity outside of being a wife. Before that I struggled with keeping my identity outside of my career. Let’s not mention how we lose our minds as teenagers. (Oh, gosh! I’m so not ready to have a teenager.)
So what do you do when you find yourself in the bowels of an identity crisis?
First, get to the root of the problem. In this case, you are probably tired. I mean I feel like I can never get enough rest, but sleep is important (Easier said than done I know). I had to learn to utilize my support system. I always felt like I’m her mom I can do everything, but you can’t do everything. Second, sometimes it helps to take a step back. When I have too much on my plate I try to take time for myself. Sometimes I can only take 20 minutes. Other times I go get a mani and pedi maybe make a day of it. (That one is far and few between). Lastly, give yourself a break. You are probably the best mom your kid has ever had! Well you are the only mother your kid has had so you are both learning together!
You are doing a great job!
Now tell me if you lost yourself in motherhood and how you are working to find yourself!
I have completely lost myself.
There are days I look in the mirror [for maybe a split second in between feedings, play time, and naps] and I am not even sure who it is I see staring back at myself.
What happened to me? I had a baby – a beautiful, healthy, happy baby. [And I am so incredibly lucky for his health.]
So, where did my identity go?
Motherhood – it’s not for the feint of heart.
Somewhere between sleepless nights [I was not blessed with a through-the-night sleeper], pumping, feeding, and keeping this innocent human alive – I seem to have lost all sense of who I am outside of motherhood. So much of my focus is on this sweet person I have given life, and now the burden of sustaining it has begun. I say burden not because it is something I dislike, but instead because it is an intense sense of responsibility – responsibility that I cannot explain. The future of this small human rests in my hands. Now, that is a mind game! As you might imagine, his life has become my greatest priority. And in this revelation my focus has shifted off of my likes, hobbies, desires, and goals and on to the well being of my child. While this a completely normal part of motherhood, I can only wonder – at what point do I find myself again? And, when I do, who is she?
This isn’t the first time I have lost myself in life. Aside from tragedy in my youth [to be discussed at a later date] I found portions of myself missing after I got married. While I am happily married for 5 years [holy crap, when did that happen?] changing your role from single woman to wife can be quite the experience. Of course, this was easier to bounce back from as my husband is a grown man and can fend for himself if need be. The shift in focus in this scenario is much less than that of a new child. Over the first couple of years I found myself again and learned to embrace my new title as a wife.
So what is different about motherhood?
I believe there are so many aspects of child rearing that aid in the loss of self. But for now let’s cover my top three.
The first being: sleep deprivation. I have a 10 month old who still does not sleep through the night. This level of sleepy should be illegal. [Did I mention he has an upstairs nursery, and we have a downstairs master bedroom]. Nothing compares to a 2 A.M. stair crawl for a pacifier….. every night….. for 10 months. And let’s be honest a blog post on sleep deprivation could become it’s own beast, so I will save the rest for another time. Some days I am so tired I, very literally, do not know how I am going to function. [Who has the energy to keep a kid alive, clean a house, cook, work, and then have perfectly straightened, clean hair?! When was the last time I had a pedicure, or honestly, even shaved my legs?]
The second biggest hurdle I have encountered in my “who have I become?” journey is the dreaded and ever-so complicated: mom guilt. Of course I’d love to go to dinner with my husband alone, meet the girls for a night of dancing, or even stay after work to mingle with my co-workers, but just when I think I may grow some “mom-sticles” and actually do it – I back out. [Why? Don’t you want some time away from this crazy house, the constant whining from teething, the explosive diaper situations?] I back out because at the end of the day I want to be there for every bedtime routine. I want to make that bottle. I want to cuddle my little boy after his bath time. I want to put him in fresh jam-jams and stare at the monitor like a psychopath until he closes his eyes, and I can take a breath of fresh air for the first time all day – knowing I kept him alive for another 24 hours. So therein lies the issue. If I do go out, I constantly wonder what or how he is doing. If I stay home, I constantly wonder, what am I missing. Mom guilt – you suck.
Lastly, our lives are now completely, utterly [No pun intended] revolving around another human being – which if you didn’t already have the pleasure of this beginning in marriage [When your new life revolves around a whole other kid of child – the man child] this new human being LITERALLY relies on you for life sustaining interventions. The third culprit in the dynamic trio of identity stealers is lack of freedom. [Freedom – what’s that? Feels so familiar…] Remember those days of just throwing on some leggings, grabbing your purse, hopping in the car, swinging through starbucks, and going to target to just “look”? Might as well wave goodbye to those days, ladies. The new days involve packing all sorts of contraptions, “just in case” items, snacks, bottles, bags, and children into your car and praying you don’t have any obvious stains on your clothing. Getting things ready to go to Target is almost more exhausting than going itself. In other words, your schedule is no longer your own – which seems so obvious. But it is just so hard to adjust to this and still find time to care for yourself.
Thus bringing me to my next portion of the blog post: how do you find ourselves again?
Well that my friend is the million-dollar question for me right now. [Any ideas? Help?…Is this thing on? *tap tap*] I decided for my new years resolution I would focus on organizing my life. In many ways I feel this will cut the chaos and enable me to focus on other aspects of life.
Logically, let’s break it down. If the top three things holding me back from finding myself postpartum are sleep deprivation, mom guilt, and lack of freedom – what can I do to counteract these things? First – get some sleep. [Easier said than done right?] I have wonderful parents and parents-in-law who are willing to take my sweet angel overnight, so why not let myself take advantage from time to time! [Oh yes, that jerk, mom guilt…] As far as mom guilt is concerned, I have to remind myself that sometimes being a good mother means enjoying an hour or so away to recharge. Sometimes being away from the routine makes you truly appreciate the moments you spend with your little one(s). And lastly, just embrace the lack of freedom. One day these children will be out of the house and I will beg them to come home from Christmases. So for now, I will remind myself that these are the moments I will miss one day. These are the good times. We are living them. Let’s rejoice in that.
Leave a comment on your thoughts on identity loss, how to find yourself again, or what your favorite sleep deprivation story is down below! I can’t wait to read!