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Establishing your new Identity Apart from MOM
A Self Questionnaire for the New Mommy
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We all experienced it.
That moment of Love Explosion when your newborn fresh-from-the-womb infant let out that first cry. The moment they looked up at you from their receiving blanket you felt it. Your brain and heart could’ve melted to the floor, and you finally understood love on an entirely different level than before. Someone once told me that the best description to explain the love a Parent has for a child is that it is “allowing your heart to walk around outside of your body.” That summary could not be more accurate. (Read What Bedtime with My Son Taught Me About Being Grateful!)
The months to follow are all about Baby.
When and what they eat, how adorable they are asleep, how agonizing it is when they don’t sleep. What outfit to pick? What onesie will you pack for when they spit up? How many diapers for a trip to grandmas? Going back to work felt like cutting our body and soul in two. Separating from the only thing that has ever made us feel complete. You may have cried those first days back to work postpartum, I certainly did.
Friends would call me and say “Hey! We are all going out this weekend, want to come?” My response was always “Yeah, I mean, maybe if I can get a sitter…”. Deep down I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. All I needed to be happy was baby cuddles, and a good movie to watch. Along with the occasional sip of wine. I was utterly content sitting at home with my child or children and going nowhere.
Even during those times where I thought it might be fun to get out of the house, the guilt of having done nothing but worked and cared for the baby would settle in. I felt like my only date for Saturday’s should be laundry and, if I were lucky, I would meet the dishes.
This pattern of my life went on for four years after my oldest was born. Finally, I had a conversation with a friend of mine:
“I just feel lost. I’m not unhappy, I don’t know how I feel.” I had felt as though I was moving but not progressing. It was a sinking feeling in me like I was missing out on something but couldn’t figure out what that something was.
“You need to find something for you…”
Confused, I responded with “Huh?”
I had no idea what she meant, but in the end, she was right. If you had asked me what my favorite food was at that time, I might’ve said the freeze dried yogurt bites that I was giving my teething child. The idea of going out was alien to me because I hadn’t shopped for myself in over 12 months. Buy a new shirt? What?! Were you out of your mind? Maybe from the Goodwill.
Take the Self Questionnaire and Make Time to Create and Get to Know A New Identity
I didn’t have much money at the time, so what I did have I would prioritize to the children. In hindsight, I’m confident that at that time in my life, I wasn’t prioritizing myself AT ALL.
And I wasn’t at the bottom of my list, I wasn’t even on my list. (Read Yes, You are WORTH it and Here is how I know!)
I’ve since this time seen countless mothers go through the same thing.
You have a baby, and because babies in their nature, are helpless beings who require almost all of our physical, emotional and mental energy, we lose ourselves in this new metamorphosis from woman to mother. Perhaps even, we were just finding ourselves as a wife and now have this new label put on us: Mother.
Most of my life I was told I am a very “motherly” person. Heck, I was voted Acts Most Like a Teacher for my high school mock awards. I imagine this came from my constant need to remind boys to pull their pants up and watch their mouth. Regardless, these traits became my identity after I became a mother. I didn’t know who I was apart from nursing, nurturing, and being cautious.
It took the insight of a friend to remind me that underneath all of that was still a “me” yearning to get out. Who, if I kept putting on the backburner, was going to burn out completely.
Every new mother must do this. On your own time of course but it’s honestly crucial to your parenting but also your mental health. (Read how to Embrace Failure and Start Over This Year!)
Janis Joplin said: “Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.”
Dolly Parton said: “Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.”
You can be a mother. Just as you can be a daughter. It can be a label you wear, a title you are proud to have, but it’s not ALL that you are.
This is even more important when we realize that absorbing this title as our identity could lead to Co-dependency. What happens if our children steer down a path we never wanted for them? Our children are our children, and we are their parent, but we must remind ourselves that our children are people, as are we. People who will make their own decisions, and their own path in life sometimes with and without regard for what we as parents taught them. If your entire identity is wrapped up in being their mother how will you feel if they choose a path you don’t desire for them? (Read What Happens When We Parent Imperfectly)
Just as your value as a person isn’t limited by the decisions you’ve made, it’s defined by internal self-worth. Your identity can’t be summed up to “my children are my life.”
I know we want it to be. Because we all know the truth, our children are. Without them, any one of us would break into a million pieces, and I’m sure many of us who have experienced a tragic loss did shatter into a million pieces.
But we must get to know ourselves. Parenting changes us so much. It’s time to interview you.
Someone once told me that I should take myself to a movie, alone. At first, I thought that sounded silly. After I did it a few times, I thought it might be the most fabulous idea ever.
My challenge to you is:
Take yourself on a date.
If you have a spouse, sure they can come along, but eventually, I want you to go alone.
I’ve created a free printable for you to get to know yourself again. A self-questionnaire. You can find it in my free resource library. (Scroll to the bottom of the post to get the password!)
I want you to ask yourself all these questions. Some of them, you might not know. It took me a few years to learn my favorite color was yellow after I had my youngest and that is not a lie. Eventually, I knew. I also knew what was most important to me again, AFTER baby. Here’s the real challenge: your answers cannot be “My child.” or “My Children.” Dig deeper.
Then when you are done, post this to your fridge. Read it for 5 days. If you haven’t filled it all in, then post it to your fridge and fill it in as you realize more about yourself.
They say at different stages of marriage you will have to get to know your spouse again, I believe this to be true about yourself as well. Motherhood is a new stage of life, have fun and find out who you are now.
(Struggle with Decision Making? Change this ONE Thing!)
You might really really love the new person you meet. I did.