This topic was requested.
I thought about this topic for days. How do I answer this question when I don’t feel like I’ve lost my personal identity? Motherhood has been such an unexpected joy in my life. So, I kept thinking about how to express my experience. How do I say something meaningful?
I’ve never felt lost but I wanted to explore a few reasons why maybe I never felt lost (always with the disclaimer that all people are different and what gives me balance may not give someone else balance). I did have the baby blues in a bad way after the birth of my first baby. This is going to sound incredibly shallow and lame but I remember I was so depressed that I didn’t even want to scroll Pinterest. See, Pinterest was still rather new at the time and I had previously been obsessed with pinning all the things so when I had zero interest I took note. I took note that I had lost interest in everything I once loved and that I was sinking. Don’t worry, one look at my Pinterest account and I’m sure you’ll see I eventually came out of that. That’s just postpartum and some have it way worse.
So here are some reasons why I don’t think I’ve ever felt lost (note: this list is not comprehensive but just a few highlights):
- I have an equal parent partner (ie: my husband). This is perhaps the most important reason. He is a trustworthy, loving and caring parent. He likes to spend time with the kids. He cooks all of our meals. If I want to go do something alone, he keeps the kids. Easy as that. I could go on but having what you need in a partner is probably crucial to your mental/emotional wellbeing as a parent.
- I still do what I want to do. In fact I might even do more because I don’t necessarily want to go places alone and it’s great to have little adventure buddies. I still find time to be creative and, again, my husband is incredibly supportive of this. Just browse my Instagram and you’ll see plenty of seemingly trivial styled photos I created.
- I’ve created space and structure for me time – evenings. Of course, that is not perfect every night but usually I get a couple hours to unwind in whatever way I see fit whether it’s Netflix, reading, talking with the husband, collaging or whatever.
My personal identity has evolved and expanded. Motherhood is a refining fire when you learn to surrender yourself. I’ve always thought of it as a beautiful teeny, tiny picture of our human relationship with God. Surrender was a word that came to me when my second child was a baby. The word gave me peace in an otherwise negative time. Moms know, when it’s evening and you’re on the couch relaxing and the baby starts crying and you know it’s time to feed. It can be really frustrating but when I realized surrendering to the baby’s needs gave me not only a sense of duty but also relief. Relief from negative thoughts and feelings. I would also add some of those moments became some of the sweetest times with my girl. I wish I would have savored the time I had with my first the way I ended up doing with my second.
They say you have to lose yourself to find yourself. Well parenthood has given me ample opportunity to put someone else before myself. Ample opportunity to set aside my fear, my desire, my will, my pride, my happiness (but I’ll be the first to admit I save the best bites of dessert for myself). Being a parent reminds me that the world does not revolve around me. It’s not something I take lightly and it’s something I’ve deconstructed many times over the years to be able to say what is good and true and beautiful of the delicate and hard work that is marriage and motherhood.
Edited to add: I forgot a funny little story. When I first became a mom, I was embarrassed to walk outside pushing a stroller. I really can’t explain why. That’s just how I felt. And I definitely didn’t want to be one of those people that walked around with a baby carrier. Had to learn the hard way that baby carriers are HIGHLY useful. I literally crack myself thinking about that. Becoming a mom was hard. It did change my entire identity and all good change is difficult. But I didn’t feel like I lost myself – I just felt like I didn’t know who I had become and that took some time.