— after becoming a parent.
This will read more like a blog post rather than a how-to guide. If you have any tips on “How to Find One Self,” please share it with me in the comments.
It shouldn’t be this hard to find your sense of individuality back after becoming a mom. Yet, I am struggling some days. I haven’t been able to tell people I’ve just met that I’m a writer — a published author! — or even anything else besides being a “stay-at-home mom”. I often tell myself this is what I signed up for when I decided to put my work on hold to raise a baby. As I get closer to being back on the computer and writing a new(ish) book, I realize that I have two identities and they don’t coexist.
I’m a mom and I’m a writer. They do not work together. One always takes precedence over the other and that’s the mom identity. I cannot say, “Hold on child, let me write for two hours then I will take care of you.” No! That’s not how life works! Especially with a toddler who has to have your constant connection. As nap times shorten and wake windows lengthen it’s getting extremely difficult to let my mom identity rest.
I’m exhausted by the end of the day, to the point I cannot stay up an extra hour to write. I have to manage a household. I have to make sure there’s food on the table, the floors are clean, the dishes are done, and the laundry is completed. I have to constantly take my toddler out on excursions, socialize him with other kids, run his energy out so he is tired and wants to go to sleep.
What sparked this piece was a specific experience I had recently. Sometimes, I try to make it so we both get something out of our adventures and we meet up with other moms and babies. I saw how some moms have already returned back to work and are balancing work and mom life. I also noticed their kids seem to be more self-sufficient/independent than mine by going off and playing with toys or each other. And my reality comes swinging back to me when my toddler is grabbing at my arms and legs begging to go home after only being at the meet up for 30 minutes. Instead of wanting to explore and play with other kids his age, he wanted to go home.
I nearly cried on the drive home after that one experience. All I wanted was one morning where I got to talk with my peers about mom life or just life in general. I couldn’t even get the chance to do it that day because I was so focused on the being the mom and making sure my toddler was feeling heard. I didn’t want to force him to stay if he wasn’t comfortable, so we left.
In that moment I felt so lost. Who am I? Will I never get to be ME again? Will I ever have conversations with friends outside of texting?
I reached out to my community to find out if what I’m feeling is mutual. I also felt like I had my blinders on and I was only seeing the negativity of losing my sense of “self”. So, when I got some answers back from moms (and dads) I was quite surprised to read the positivity behind them and it helped change my outlook on what is happening to me.
The takeaway was “evolution”. We evolved as a person to become a parent. Along with that you grow and mature. You will never be the same person you were before having kids, but you can find bits and pieces of that old self and bring it along with you.
But also, yeah, you do lose yourself sometimes even physically. After experiencing childbirth (whether natural or c-section), your body is not the same. You’re not the same person your partner met and sometimes, you don’t have the same drive as you used to. That can be bothersome/ troublesome in a relationship. Especially when one of the partners have changed and the other is still the same. The “same” partner will never understand what the “changed” partner is experiencing and vice versa.
Can you get that person back for your partner or is it lost forever? Are we just going to have to accept that fact and find a way to let this “new you” be the one driving your life? Will your partner? I mean these are very existential questions and by no means shouldn’t be the one that’s plaguing your life. But for some, it’s there and just scratching away inside their brain. From what I’ve learned, it’s better to talk about it with your partner, than to hold it in an build resentment (and this means for both parties involved).
I was told that evolving and losing your old identity was all a part of “being an adult”. That we shouldn’t live in the past and just keep our eyes forward. While I agree, that sentiment doesn’t really mean much because some adults don’t have children. Who are they then? Do they get to be their own person? Do they evolve over time as well? Are they not as mature because they didn’t have kids whether by choice or not?
I feel like I’m complaining. Maybe I am. Maybe I needed to write this out so that I can feel better about losing my identity. Either way, I’m glad I reached out to my community and found a different perspective. I’m still going to grieve my old life, but I will start to press on, open my heart and welcome my evolution.
Thank you sincerely to all the moms, dads, and grandparents who’ve responded to my question. I hope you all continue to discover new things about yourself and evolve.