Excluding the recovery, becoming a mom for the first time was a pretty magical experience for me. Just like the good ol’ Baby Wise book said she would, my daughter began sleeping through the night at eight weeks. She napped well, and she never really woke in the night during her first year.
But one by one, we added three more babies to the picture, and lucky for my ego, my bragging rights were taken away. But despite the chaos and challenges of bringing four children into the world, I can say I sincerely enjoyed the beginning phase of my motherhood.
As an introverted mom, I was thrilled to have left my very people-oriented job to be home. I loved planning my own days, loved the structure and routine I could build. And naptime was my haven.
Motherhood was my identity, and I was pretty comfortable with it.
Most of my energy and thoughts went into my family—rightly so. But along the way, I slowly started dropping any interests or talents I had.
I was exchanging my personal identity for that solely of a mother.
I was sitting at an appointment one day, when my doctor asked me if I had been exercising regularly. A little ashamed, I responded no.
He began to question me further and asked what I liked to do for fun. Fun! I thought. Does taking care of children count as fun? Is that a hobby? I couldn’t think of anything.
That was a defining moment.
I needed to find who I was outside of motherhood again, and for one very good reason:
I am more than a mom. I am a creative, unique, and interesting individual. A person who needs to care for herself in a manner that reflects self-love. After all, I want to like the person I’m left with when my children are grown and gone.
It may have helped that my babies were getting older, or maybe my doctor greatly influenced me, but whatever the reason, I gradually started picking up hobbies and exercise again. I started finding joy and excitement within my own self as an individual.
I’m determined not to fall into that trap again.
5 Ways to Strengthen Your Identity Outside of Motherhood
1. Practice regular self-care.
I feel like we women need to hear this one over and over again. Care for your body, your mind, and your soul. Self-care is not selfish. It’s good for you, and it’s ultimately good for your family.
2. Spend time with other adults. (Sans children when possible!)
Spending time with other like adults helps us broaden our horizons and learn new things that we, too, might like to do. Simply put: being around the right kind of people is inspiring.
3. Pursue a long-desired interest or hobby, nurture one you already have, or pick back up a passion from your youth.
When I realized I had been neglecting who I am, my first step was to pick up a group photography class. Even though the hobby itself was a splurge, it has led me to other passions and has become useful in photographing my own family. It has truly become one of my loves.
4. Keep a list of things you would like to do one day.
Where do you see yourself in ten, twenty, thirty years? What would you like to have accomplished? What would you like to be doing? What are your dreams?
Envisioning your future-self will help you to strengthen who you are today.
5. Continue to learn.
Read, listen, travel, explore. We can’t learn it all, but we can certainly have fun trying. There is something very fulfilling about learning new things, especially, I believe, as an adult. Never stop learning.
Bottom line. Are we proud of being moms? Heck, yes! Motherhood is the noblest cause we’ll ever embark on, but it’s not necessary to lose ourselves in the process.
What other ways can you think of to strengthen your identity outside of motherhood, and have you ever felt like you’ve lost yourself even just a little bit?
Lifestyle photography via Kelsi Wood Photography & Design. Find her on Instagram here!