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.
Thanks for a beautifully transparent post! You’re going to help someone with this. God bless you.
I really hope so. It’s why I do what I do. Thank you for your kind words.
Thank you for sharing this! I have been trying to figure out why I feel so sad and unhappy although I love my 22 month old and have a great life. I’m still struggling but knowing that I’m not the only one really helps to move forward 🙂 now if only I can figure out the outlet that would help take me there…
I trust you’ll figure it out. I’d encourage you not to isolate yourself but reach out to others with young kids too. Maybe look for a local MOPS or stroller strides or something to build community if you don’t have it already. It’s such a process bringing children in the world. We love them so much, but there’s struggles we didn’t anticipate. I was so excited to be a stay-at-home mom – it’s all I wanted to do. It completely surprised me to have the feelings I was experiencing. I hope I can come alongside you and your journey. Find hope in the process. It’s a good one…it really is!
Wonderfully written. I have had many of the same feelings myself. Parenting has humbled me, and made me so much more surrendered to God. I realize my frailty and mortality. And I’m thankful for each and every day. I think finding balance is the key, and It looks like you’re there.
Pinning & sharing today 🙂
I feel like I could’ve written this. I’m in the trenches right now, and this is exactly how I’m feeling – I don’t want to feel sad and always search for joy.
Keep grasping at it. I have found a lot of hope in the journey. Those early years are tough, in my opinion. I think of all the life transformations I had in my 30’s – becoming a wife, a mom, moving to a new place, etc., and it’s just a lot of change that of course will have a huge impact. Trust that there are great things in the works for your family. Your kids will be blessed as you continue to transform. Thank you for commenting.
I’m in tears as I read this. You hit exactly on how I have been feeling but I haven’t been able to find the words to say it until now. I am taking your advice to heart. Here is to a new me… Thank you for writing so openly and honestly.
Thank you so much for sharing how this post resonated with you. My goal with the blog has been to come alongside other women on their journey into and throughout motherhood. I cannot help but be real as I face the different components of becoming a mom. It’s so amazing to know that my words might make a difference in the lives of others. Comments like this are so rewarding and spur me on. I’m grateful for that. I’m glad you found me, and I really hope that I continue to write things that help you on this joyful, challenging and adventurous ride of motherhood!
Oh my God! Almost 2 years now and i have been dealing with this exact feeling.. I suddenly grew up and forgot how to be joyous and happy and i so desperately wanted to do that for my baby. I still cant figure what happened, it felt like my daughter came into the world and my happy decided to make a run for the door.
It’s not my season… i can’t do toddler.. but i can completely imagine doing stuff with an older kid..
The first thing i did was to acknowledge my situation and now iam at a much better place.. Iam a therapist and a healer so i sought help from my healer friends. Im in a good place now but i know i still have some time to find the happy..
Just knowing that someone else is going through this gives me so much freedom from guilt.. I thought i was cuckoo..
Filled with gratitude for this post.. sending you loads of love..
So glad this post was an encouragement to you. With all the response and shares I got here and on Facebook believe me, you are not alone. Thanks for sharing your journey too. Just rest in the hope that it is a process. It sounds like you are in a better place and are growing. I believe it’s a journey of embracing the changes, letting God work in our lives and recognizing my own need for change. Thank you so much for letting me know how this post impacted you.
Thank you so much for this! I also feel this way. I have often tried to share these feelings with people close to me, who just didn’t understand. I was told I was ungrateful. You have hit the nail on the head with this post. Thanks again!
Thank you so much. I am sorry you have found discouragement in the responses of your friends. I think it’s a fine balance. I know I need to be grateful, and it really is the cure for discontentment. That said, for some of us, it’s a longer process. “Choose Joy” was the phrase I embraced for our family because I did know I had to claim it. It wasn’t coming naturally. That said, it had to be a choice. I don’t lay down and die in the process, but I also don’t deny the process and sometimes the challenges or disappointments that come with the transformation. The feelings are real but it’s what we chose to do with the journey. Praying you find a lot of hope as you go through this season.
I’m to have to find my season just given birth to our last edition and I feel the same trapt in a bubble time will tell I guess
I have faith that you will find yourself again as you embrace the transformation. It isn’t always easy, but I do believe I’m becoming a better person and a better mom in the process. I hope you find joy in this season, even through the challenges.
Beautiful. I have a 2 1/2 year old. My husband left when my son was just three months old. I can relate to so much you have written. I felt trapped and lonely for the first year of my child’s life. My life had fallen to pieces all in a moment’s time when he walked out and I was left sitting in a house day in and day out with another human that I had to muster up the energy to care for when I was at my loneliest place in my life. It’s amazing that another human can need you every second of the day yet you fell so desperate and alone. I’m on the other side and so far 2 1/2 has been great for us but gosh, I never want to go back to feeling the way I felt last year. Thank you for your honesty.
I am so sorry that your husband left. I can’t imagine how challenging it would be doing this job of raising kids alone. 🙁 Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story with us. I know other women will be encouraged and find hope in seeing you come to the other side. I am so glad this post was meaningful to you and how it relates to your own story…beauty in the making. 🙂
I don’t think I have ever connected to a post as much as this one. You are speaking my life, except for the mural painting. That would not turn out well for me. 🙂 Thank you for your honesty. I have tears of gratitude knowing someone else understands this struggle. I have two boys aged 2 and 4, and I am about to have a third child. I am concerned about going through the newborn stage again when this season is already so difficult. Thank you for the encouragement. Thank you for sharing your experience to which I relate wholeheartedly! We have so much in common. Thank God for His unfailing love, consistent presence, forgiveness, patience, and grace!
This is why I do what I do. I am so appreciativeness of your willingness to share you journey with me and how this post has helped. You sounds like you are having kids the same spread of mine. It’s an intense time, but I’d never trade it. These kiddos are well worth any kind of adjustment I have had to make in my own life. Just be encouraged that, in my experience, it does get easier. Being refined isn’t always easy, but sounds like we both believe in a “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” Blessings on this journey.
I struggle with being a parent with two children under 2. I feel like my freedom has been ripped from me and I keep telling myself that I need to be patient before I can do what I love again. I keep looking for ways out and how to be myself. Your words are just what I needed to hear.
I’m so glad this article was an encouragement for you. It’s such a balance of learning to be more selfless and also knowing how to take care of ourselves. I wish you well on this journey. It is a process. 🙂
You are so welcome.
Great article! I felt like I was reading about my life, except I only have one child…9 months old.
You’re at the very beginning of the transformation. It’s a joy having kids. You will love it, but you’ll also be going through your own changes, so give yourself some grace while you figure it out. 🙂 Thanks for writing.
Love love love. Thank you!
You are so welcoming. Thank you so much for commenting. I love when what I write gives others hope, purpose or direction. 🙂
THANK YOU for posting this. I have a 5 year old, only child and am in my late 30s. I too have been struggling with feeling unhappy & lost. I love my child dearly, she is the whole world to me! I just wish I felt more joy in this stage. Sometimes I find being a SAHM so lonely. I struggle with making friends but realize that I could really use some mommy friends…someone to talk to about these things. I have found after reading this that at least I’m not alone in these feelings. I am looking forward to your future posts!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I would totally encourage you to reach out and make some other mom friends. It can be so lonely and isolating, but it’s wonderful when you discover you are not alone. Even if you can make a couple friend, I think it’s great. I am hoping the joy will come. Keep grasping for it. 🙂 Blessings on your journey.
Thank you. My children are 21 years apart, my youngest is now 2. I found starting over, again as single mother, I too have lost myself. This is a great article. I struggle everyday to be the best mom I can be and find the balance. Feeling happy yet also guilty on the weekends she goes with her dad. I use that time to do things for me that I won’t do with her because she is my strong-willed child who is curious about everything in the world no matter where we go.
Thank you for sharing a piece of your story. Doing it as a single mom has to be that much harder. I don’t think you need to feel guilty about the reprise. I know what it’s like to be raising a strong willed child who makes tasks and everyday living that much more challenging. Use that time to refresh, get things done and gear up to continue to be the best mom you can be to her. Having a 2 year old after a 21 year break from that age has to be a little jarring. Hoping your journey is full of many blessings. 🙂
As i sit here and see how i m lost and miss my old self. My old self of having a goal and dream and full of energy to face life. …i come across your post!!! Thank you….
You are welcome! You’ll get it back. Soon I hope! Keep at it. This season takes sacrifice, and that is beautiful too. Raising these kids is such an important job, so there’s no greater dream or goal than doing well by them. 🙂
I read you post about judging other mother’s – couldn’t find a comment box so writing here – please look into “food neophobia” and extreme picky eating. We have struggled with our daughter from 3 to now 12. Encouragment, punishmet, Feeling like a crappy mom. Etc. Etc. It is a real eating disorder and there is help. After searching and searching we found an occupational therapist who specializes in this. After 4 or 5 months of therapy we are seeing positive changes.
Thank you so much. I really appreciate you reaching out about that. I have never heard of it before, so I will definitely look into it. I really appreciate you caring enough to take the time to reach out and share your story!
Great post!! I must admit that I didn’t forget about myself when my daughter was born. I was really sleep deprived in the first few months and I felt like I needed to have some time off so that I could be a better parent. Staying active and weight training helped me get through that. Until this day, I always find time to train. Happy mommy, happy baby!
We also recently wrote a post on the importance of having mom friends.
Thanks so much. It is so true about staying active and having friends. It definitely great advice. I think it gets easier and easier, also, as the kids get older…at least that’s my experience. Good to get exposure to your writing also. 🙂
Wow. I needed to read this today, thank you!
I’m so glad this was uplifting to you today. I always want to be real but hope what I write brings hope too. Thank you for letting me know this was something that touched you. Blessings!