Celebrating the wonder of Mothers – Don’t forget who you are.
We all know the story of Alice and Wonderland (one of my personal favourites). I love this quote from when Alice meets the caterpillar.
Caterpillar: “Who are YOU?”
Alice: “I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
I’m sure we can all relate to feeling this way – no matter your age, race, gender or culture. A feeling of not knowing who you are right now can occur in the many changes and transitions we face through life. But, given we are celebrating women and mothers this month, I wanted the focus to remain on them. Why? Because, there comes a time when perhaps mums forget who they were before they were blessed with a baby or babies (lets face it, becoming a parent is a bit like falling down a rabbit hole). When they have gone through so many changes; put everyone else first; and realised they haven’t been able to do the things that were once a huge part of their identity.
For many women, they may have had to change careers, put a hold on some hopes, dreams and adventures; and focus on family life. The changes our bodies have gone through are also a major adjustment to the next chapter in life. Here are just a few ways in which mums may have experienced an identity crisis:
- Life now revolves around a baby or children (no matter their age!). This can mean a loss of freedom and/or feelings of guilt for doing something for self.
- Personal appearance may not be a priority (and that includes overall physical health). This may include not feeling there is time to get hair/beauty/gym time. For many people, the way we look impacts hugely on mood and also related to our identity.
- Lack of sleep/fatigue and isolation. This can make a person feel strong, distressing emotions they have never felt before which can impact in other areas of life such as relationships.
Yes there are sacrifices we have to make when we have babies; so it’s important to keep alive those pieces of yourself whilst adapting to the here and now. A few ways to do this may be:
- Take some time to think about the things that brought joy before children. What made you you. Sport? Hobbies? Art? Reading? Photography? Socialising/entertaining? Dressing up and nights out? Walks in nature? Swimming in the ocean? Travel? Volunteering? The list can go on and on. Make your list and think about how to make some of those things possible again. Prioritise it and ask for help if you need to.
- Socialise, discover yourself and expand your horizons – this is you now. That may be to take an art class with a friend (even if you can’t draw!); say yes to going out for dinner with friends; have a night out with your partner and don’t talk about the kids! Talk about your dreams for the future and reminisce about wonderful things in the past.
- Acknowledging the things that made you you and talking about them with your children will show your kids that you aren’t just a mum. Maybe you were the Captain of a sport team. Maybe you travelled the world. Maybe you can speak another language. Maybe you can cook up a storm, or paint, or rule at chess, or juggle a soccer ball. These are the things that show joy, experience and wisdom.
As we grow, our focus in life shifts and we will inevitably experience change. Being a parent is an incredible experience and I don’t want this article to be overwhelming or negative. It is just a gentle nudge to remember who you are – and that includes who you were in previous stages of life. Even if that does seem like the other side of the looking glass.