What does it mean to be yourself? How do you negotiate that with being a mom? And what happens when you suddenly lose yourself?
You wake up one morning and you don’t recognize your reflection in the mirror. It happens so quickly. Dark, tired eyes, wrinkled skin, no sparkle or shine in sight. You are a shell of who you once were, who you thought you would be when you grew up.
You became jealous of the Facebook and Instagram women you see – smiling, traveling, working – all with rested eyes and fresh faces. You may know this is a curated appearance vs. a true reality, but still you feel bad.
How will your children grow up to know the strength and power of women, you wonder, if their only model is you. All they have as a model is you. And that model is a disheveled bland version of who you used to be.
The continual pressures of motherhood don’t give you much time to cultivate a personal identity, so it becomes easy to let yourself go. In our culture, mothers are told that anything we do for ourselves takes something away from our kids. There’s this unwritten rule if we do something that sparks us, it harms them. (Nothing could be further from the truth.)
It’s freeing when you realize that motherhood isn’t the be-all end-all. Society tells us that mothers have to be happy and fulfilled being mothers alone, and if they’re not somehow there’s something inherently wrong.
Babies and partners bring so much love and laughter, but ultimately happiness comes from within. Asking your family to bring you happiness is an unfair burden on them. There’s a true sense of contentment that only comes from knowing and loving yourself.
Rediscovering yourself is a lifelong process and will take time though. Don’t fret if it’s not something that happens overnight. Follow the recommendations below for how to initiate this rediscovery process.
How to Rediscover Yourself after Becoming a Mom:
Admit motherhood brings you happiness, but it isn’t enough to sustain you. (This may not be the case for you. Every person’s experience is unique.)
Realize happiness can’t be dependent on your kids.
Model for your kids how they should live life. (If you want them to be creators, then create.)
Do something that makes you feel strong.
Check in with someone who knows you well.
Reach out to your partner, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, therapist, etc.
Make time for yourself.
Let some things (or many things) go.
There’s a quote from The Nightingale, a novel by Kristin Hannah, that acknowledges the importance of celebrating the person first and mom second: “If I had told him the truth long ago, or had danced and drunk more, maybe he would have seen me instead of a dependable, ordinary mother.”
Here’s to being seen as people first and as mothers second.
A Final Thought – From the Pillow
Dance more. Whatever that means for you.
So don’t be afraid to show off your authentic self.
What are you going to do today to bring back that shine?