I lost myself when I became a mom. There is so much joy surrounding the birth of new baby. You get pregnant, you make the announcement and anticipation builds. The new life grows inside your swollen belly. Preparations are made. Rooms are decorated. Friends and family gather to celebrate at baby showers. Then, the day arrives. Your new baby enters the world.
I Lost Myself When I Became a Mom
There is absolute delight surrounding birth. Experiencing the first moments of the miracle of life will never be forgotten.
In the blink of an eye. With that one final push. You are now a mom.
Your story may look different. Your life might have changed as you gathered the new member of your family from the arms of a brave woman who knew she couldn’t care for them the way you would be able to. Maybe your life was transformed as your feet crossed the threshold of an orphanage on the other side of the world.
Whatever your journey, life changed when you became a mom.
For some, it was a seamless transition. You always knew you wanted to be a mom. The new life completed a puzzle, and although the journey has been tough at times, it was less a re-birth of yourself than a completion.
It changed me, though, and I wasn’t sure I liked the change.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved my baby. I delighted in her. Staring at her was my favorite past time. We watched each change and celebrated each milestone. We each took 2 hour shifts in the night to calm her and find some rest. I fought hard to nurse my baby even though my body fought equally hard against producing milk. I wanted the best for her, this new life.
But I also wanted me.
I was independent, adventurous, and fun. I used to be the one jumping off cliffs into the water far below, but now I was grounded. I felt stuck. Everyone was out waterskiing that summer. That used to be me. Now, I stayed behind to nurse and to ensure nap-time wasn’t missed. My wings had been clipped. No longer did I feel like my carefree self. I had responsibilities. There was a little human being that depended on me for survival. Eventually she would depend on me for teaching and security and discipline, too.
Then, two more babies came along.
Parenting wasn’t what I thought it would be. With a background in education and working with youth, good role models and a plan, I thought it would be intuitive. Instead, I found myself challenged to make decisions about how to proceed in a variety of parenting situations. Paralyzed. Where I once was decisive, I now felt paralyzed.
My parents used to describe me as joyful growing up. I was fun. Leaving the kid’s table at the holidays never appealed to me. The kid inside me was palpable, and I wanted to play and explore, even as an adult. Then I had kids and the kid inside me left. How ironic that when I needed to be playing the most was when I felt like playing the least. Suddenly, I was a grown up. I felt like I was constantly grasping at joy but it always seemed out of reach.
I lost myself when I became a mom.
At least, that could have been the end of my story if I had written it a few years ago, but God is good. My story is not finished. I am not finished. This is a work in progress.
I’m not the me that I was 9 years ago before I had children, but I am not lost. I’m still here being refined and reworked. God’s creating a tapestry. Sometimes, I’m simply looking at the underside of His creation.
Have you ever looked at the bottom of a tapestry? The top and the bottom hardly resemble each other. The bottom is full of knots and strings while the top is adorned with a beautiful design. My limited focus sees only the knots and strings, but I have faith that something beautiful is happening, and I’m catching glimpses of it as I’m finding myself again.
How Did I Find Myself after Becoming a Mom
I found myself when I realized it is OK to do things for me. I was under the false impression that becoming a mom meant life had to be all about my kids now. Yes, we do become more selfless – a good thing – when we become parents. However, it is important and healthy to remember what makes you tick and allow yourself the freedom to pursue those things.
For me, the first step toward taking me time as a new mom was painting a huge mural throughout the children’s area of our church. I created. Spending time alone to fabricate something out of nothing was life giving. Some of you will find me-time exercising. For others, it might be enjoying the great outdoors. Others still need to get lost in a good book or take time to journal. You might begin to find yourself again as you do the things that make you uniquely you.
I found myself when I fought to find myself. I didn’t want to be the person that I had become. I didn’t want to feel sad, always searching for joy. This captivity was unacceptable. One of the big phrases in our family is “Choose joy,” and I decided it would be a family motto because I needed the reminder. I didn’t want to lie down and wallow in self-pity. Acknowledging that I was unhappy and that I could make changes in my attitude was a key to my re-birth. I can’t say I’ve arrived. I have a feeling it will be a life-long process, but I can feel the Phoenix beginning to rise.
I found myself when I realized He fought for me. The great thing about having a relationship with the God of the Bible is realizing that He fights for me. He is my strength. I do not need to take any steps, small or life-changing, alone. Leaning on the One who can turn this tangled tapestry into an amazing design brings peace in the refinement process.
I found myself when I started something new. I started blogging to inspire intentionality in my parenting and to come alongside other moms on this journey. The blog became an unexpected lifeline. I was pursuing something, and I found meaning in it. I could help other women and families. It became an outlet for my own creativity, and it quickly became a passion.
Learning new skills and developing old talents helped me to find myself again. My mom said to me, “Your blog makes all the pieces of who you are come together. Everything leading up to this point in your life makes sense now.” I have always been passionate about kids and about creating. To see aspects of who I have been since childhood come together on Meaningful Mama has been a way for me to reclaim me.
Blogging worked for me – what is your new thing going to be? Doing something new triggers dopamine in your brain. It “can equally harness the brain’s joy of learning new things, but leave you with something of permanent value,” according to The Chart – CNN Health. Developing new skills also creates new pathways in your brain, and goodness knows it feels like we lose brain power after becoming a mom.
Some moms decide they want to learn how to make money from home. My friend, Alison, at Pint-Sized Treasures gives 19 Easy Ways Moms Can Make Money from Home.
I found myself when I realized it wasn’t my season. I always thought maybe I should have given birth to 6 year olds. But babies? Toddlers? Preschoolers? Not my thing. I let go of those seasons and eagerly anticipated the season to come.
Now, I honestly feel myself coming alive more and more as my kids get older. Entering a new season reminds me of springtime. I feel like I’ve been a bit dormant and now my blossoms are opening. People say that it doesn’t get easier it just gets different. But so far, for me, it feels easier.
I taught kindergarten for a year. I knew immediately it wasn’t a fit. I taught older kids as well, and they were my favorite. This isn’t to ignore the truth that there will be hard seasons again, but I really believe our personalities mesh better with different age groups. Some mamas mourn that they won’t have babies anymore, but I don’t. Between pregnancy and the early years, I felt swallowed in a vacuum.
I would never want to use “It’s not my season,” as a excuse to stay miserable, but I believe it is a reality that can bring hope. Recognize your ideal season, and relish in it or look forward to it. It’s okay to not enjoy every moment of every stage.
I needed to change. Selfishness, impatience, and pride were all key things I needed to work on in life. And I still struggle to allow God to change these things. Parenting humbled me. It became a mirror, showing me the sins that needed to be exposed and behaviors that needed to be modified. Parenting is teaching me to be more selfless. It’s definitely trying my patience. I was a fabulous mom -until I gave birth to my first baby – so pride has been addressed around every turn.
I lost myself when I became a mom, but I’m finding a new me – a better me – as I rise from the ashes.