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Losing Our Identity as Moms + How We Can Get It Back

The other day I read a post from someone (assuming a Gen Zer- why are they hating on us so badly right now?) asking how in the world we actually burned CDs. They could not understand how we could possibly put a blank CD in a computer and select songs to put on it. So besides the kids telling us that side parts, skinny jeans and emojis are slowly making us elders, this made my brain hurt that there are people that don’t even understand the dinosaur process of burning CDs. Long story short this made my mind spiral into really realizing that there is now a generation who thinks im “old” and I am transitioning into a phase of when being young and trendy is a distant memory. Thats okay, we age- I don’t hate it. But — I still like to hold onto the  Christin that wore scarf belts in my denim skirt with my new Arden B top, pregame with a box of Franzia wine + head to the bar.

ohhh you thought I was kidding?

 

Even though I am fully okay with my identity changing from college Christin to Mama Christin- Let’s be clear… I would NOT trade this time of my life for anything but do we lose ourselves from time to time in this phase. Hell yes we do. Let’s be honest, did that girl holding a box of Franzia really know who she was at that time anyway? Let’s talk about it, own it, and move forward- shall we?

It isn’t that I don’t love being a mother. I really truly love it more than anything.

But…

People don’t always talk about this part and I am going to.

I’m still living in the transition from who I used to be, to who I am now. I assume if I am, so are many others.So many parts about my life have changed, and I’m struggling to catch up with myself. Do you feel that way? Like you cannot even catch up to who you are now?

Remember the days when….

You watched what you wanted to watch. You ate when you wanted to eat and at the temperature you wanted to eat it- or in a lot of cases coffee at the temperature at which you wanted to drink it. Lol – You slept when you felt tired and stayed up if you didn’t. You know… you were in control of your own life.

Though you’re still in control of your own life now, things are different. Your desires, motivations, and spontaneous urges don’t factor into your decision making as much as they used to. Now, you consider your children’s needs equal to or above your own in the day to day.

This is good and fine and right and there is NOTHING wrong with this.

But it doesn’t take away that it is still a shock to the system.

It still takes getting used to.

In being a mom now for almost 5 years – I for sure thought that it would feel like less of a shock to the system but it hasn’t at times. I am still navigating to find that happy medium for ME.

But why do we feel like we lose our identity during this time instead of seeing it as growth or just a new chapter in life? BECAUSE it sure doesn’t feel like growth- but sis, it surely is. 

I want to mention here (before you send me hate mail) that these things in themselves are not bad.

It isn’t that you’re wrong if you do them, just that their effects can have an unanticipated effect on you and this is what I have learned. Still easy to change? Not really- but I am here to unpack it with you.

heres why we can lose our identity GALS …

What I have learned is that when our life revolves around our kids it can become perplexing because – hello – when we have kids our days do revolve around them. However, there’s a difference in your daily routine revolving around the kids and the entire meaning of your life revolving around them. You can still be on duty 24/7 and be involved in other things. Find those OTHER things do those things FOR YOU!!!

Adult bible studies, girls nights, a service project, an outing with your kids + friends will take you from your four walls home bubble to a more well-rounded perspective. I still struggle with this 100% as a mom to little ones.

I have to seek out other things or I get tunnel vision and my mental health suffers.

Another reason I feel like I lose my identity is because I don’t get ready and put a full face of makeup and an outfit on every day. I am home everyday and I prefer a good skincare routine, BB cream, and loungewear. But- there is pleasure choosing an outfit, doing my hair, and accessorizing each morning like I did when I got ready for work each morning.

I liked it.

Now I am lucky if the carline sees me in something other than yoga pants and a makeup-free face covered by my Ray-Ban sunnies. Some days I do, some days I don’t. Sometimes this bothers me other times it doesn’t. I think the biggest one is comparison here. Lets go!!!

I think when we compare ourselves to Brittany down the street that is always put together (it seems) with fresh painted nails and their hair curled, that this may make us feel like crud about ourselves. Comparison is a THIEF of joy. Don’t do it. Let’s be honest Christin, we ALL do it. We are human. What has helped me – realizing that I am depriving myself of all the great things I have or do and comparing myself is cursing myself over one thing that I am not doing or I don’t have. This just makes us feel insufficient and emptied. Let’s not go there!!! We need to stay confident and powerful girls and this is not the way to do it. Let’s be honest, we don’t know what Brittany is going through under her fresh mani and perfect hair now do we?

As moms, we have to SLOW down. Even though we feel the busiest we have ever felt.

This is a big one for many women.

We are used to being so involved in many things that becoming a mother can be difficult. I just read a study the other day that the number 1 challenge mothers mentioned was loneliness. They felt isolated, alone, and bored at home when their babies were small. Even though watching my babies grow and learn and play brings me insane immense joy, I have felt the loneliness there.

Having children can be a big change for your personality and temperament. This life change can make you feel like a different person. Perhaps you aren’t the life of the party or don’t see your friends very often.

While this in itself might not bother you, it will still affect how you see yourself.

Other moms may feel a loss of identity because a big portion of their life revolved around their job.

Moms who have given up a fulfilling career to come home may have symptoms that are similar to shock.

This was hard for me for a solid year after I left teaching. Even though it was my choice to stay at home (and I don’t for a second regret it), it was a big change to lose the validation and satisfaction of a job well done. Especially, a job with measurable results. This job may not feel as important, and it definitely doesn’t pay as well- but it IS without a doubt the most important job of all.

Transitioning from being a team lead teacher for years, being at the top of my game, putting my identity in a career that I was good at, leaving my job was hard but I transitioned out of it nicely (in my eyes) and found other passions besides teaching and fulfilling my servant heart in other ways- this may not be as easy for others to transition out of.

But be encouraged by this, ”Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing.”

Moms can also lose their identity because they have lost freedoms they once had.

This was/is a big one for me. I mean, HUGE!

I have been happy to make choices that benefit my entire family, but it has changed the way my life looks in every way. Very little going out, staying up late, or socializing. Of course, I can still do these things with kids, but life has shifted and it’s been disconcerting.

Throw in twins and the freedom of a grocery store doesn’t even look the same. Can I do it? You bet your ass I can- do I want to have a sane rest of the day and order groceries instead. Also, another HECK YES!

Simple Pleasures— riding in the car and listening to music of your choice or going to target and getting your nails done with no time limit or without it being scheduled with your husband or sitter– SMALL victories those WERE and I miss those small freedoms.

Anytime I want to be without three kids, I feel like I need to plan it weeks in advance, put it on someones calendar to help, and I still feel like I am an inconvenience to someone. It’s just how I let it make me feel over the years to be honest. The guilt can consume a mom – like we don’t deserve to have a few minutes to ourselves and to just suck it up. I even feel like this when scheduling a doctors apt for myself.

STORY TIME: a few months ago I had a reality check. I got really sick,  I was convinced I had Covid but kept testing negative. I am still not convinced I was negative – but thats neither here nor there. I powered through because thats what us moms do. I also saw it as “I don’t have time to go to the doctor, I need to take care of my kids.” or “Who will watch the kids”. It is almost too much to plan. I finally took my temperature after a week of going downhill —which I never do because a fever is a fever and I will survive—but the fever was accompanied by excruciating back pain, no appetite, chills, body aches etc… Well, my temp was 104 and I could barely move. I asked Tom to take me to the ER because I knew something wasn’t right. I knew my body. After CAT scans and blood tests, it turned out that I had a kidney infection that moved to both kidneys and had markers of sepsis. I was in the hospital for 3 days and it was awful. I had to be pumped with antibiotics and liquids to get my energy back up. Sooooo….Mamas. STOP!!!  If we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we take care of our family? Guess what?? We cant. We have to put ourselves first even if the tiny freedoms are harder to get back. We need time to put ourselves first and make it happen so that we can kick butt for our little people. Stop making excuses. Not only can we mentally be toast if we don’t – but we can physically run ourselves DOWN. You deserve it!

 

<exhibit A – don’t be like Christin>

 

How moms can find their identity again

The list could go on, but we are superheroes you and me. We cannnnn get that identity back and we will girl. We WILL! This isn’t hard or fast, but here are some general ways we can try to stay connected to who you are, not just your role.

  • Find new ways to connect with friends| Instead of regular nights out or coffee dates, have playdates or monthly book clubs. Instead of restaurants and movies try the park or a local playground. Try to do this in other ways – My close friends and I started to Marco Polo – its an app and helps us connect without seeing each other. Very helpful in a pandemic life.
  • Have a hobby| try to find a hobby you used to love and make time for it. Even if it’s something more active like jogging, try to fit it in even once a quarter. You may think it’s impossible, but if you work hard to make it happen, it will.
  • Stop comparing| This is the “secret” to being content in each season. Even so, it’s hard not to look back and forward when times are tough. By focusing on the things that are fleeting now (chubby baby thighs) you’ll be less likely to be jealous of old times.
  • Get help| Whether you need to hire someone, trade babysitting, beg family members, or just go to playgroups with helpers… do what you need to do. If you are a weary and overwhelmed mama, the effects will build up more than you are willing to admit.
  • Take care of yourself| Put the baby or toddler in the crib and take a shower. Get  up early and do yoga or work out. If you loved clothes, get dressed up. If you liked having nice hair, do your hair. Don’t neglect the things that used to bring you pride and pleasure, even if no one sees them but the baby, you’ll feel better. Getting up before the kids, working out, eating better is on my list – I did NOT make time to take care of me. Why was this so hard for me to do? It truly overwhelmed me with disappointment.

I say all of this to you because I have struggles, you have struggles and there is no reason to go about them alone. I am slowly in my progress to being the best version of myself and facing things like this helps me to do so and I love to take you along with me.

A few things gals —

You will never have a life like you did pre-motherhood, and that’s okay.

But you can slowly start to find yourself again.

Your identity isn’t lost, it’s just buried under diapers, onesies, goldfish.

I love you. I feel you. I am giving myself grace and room to grow-

I will always strive for a better Christin because I love her.

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