I remember bringing home my oldest daughter from the hospital. The whole labor experience did not go as planned (but honestly whose really does), and living through that I truly believed I could make it through anything. As my husband and I were waiting on my discharge papers, I distinctly remember feeling completely sick to my stomach. I was anxious and overwhelmed at the thought of bringing home this little baby, but at the same time overcome with pure joy. I was a mother. I was whole-heartedly ready to set into this role I felt I was destined for. I was ready to devote my entire existence to this pink, cubby-cheeked baby who depended on me for everything. Looking back on these memories, I can see exactly where my life was eternally altered. I believed being a mother meant I was supposed to take the role of mommy and make it my life’s work. I thought that was my entire being. I was wrong.
As mothers, we can get caught in this mom-dentity crisis. I completely forgot who I was before the baby. I left my former self back at the hospital on the day I gave birth to my first daughter. I thought that is how it works. I have had an extremely difficult time breaking this thought in my head. I am not just a mommy. I am still a person, too. I still have my own interests and hobbies. I have my own hopes and dreams outside of just mommyhood. Balancing this has been one of my toughest challenges as a parent. It took me until my third child to realize I am allowed to step outside of the role as mom and do things just for me. No wonder I was so stressed and feeling burnt out. I forgot what I liked to do for fun! I remember sitting and thinking, “Wow- I have not done any of my old hobbies in years!” Not just weeks or months everyone -but YEARS! I tried to think of a hobby I had now and I could not think of a single one! Who was this person I became? I didn’t even recognize myself anymore.
That is when I decided I needed to put more focus on me, and what I like to do. I started reading more for pleasure, rather than always trying to catch up on the best parenting book or articles. I started to run again (not very fast, and honestly not very far but it was still time for just me). I vowed I would allow myself the grace to ease up and start to do things I enjoyed again. And the funny thing is, once I started to do more hobbies I enjoyed doing, the better I felt as a parent. I was able to handle the odd things that every parent goes through. You know, those moments when you are trying to make dinner and your three year old decides to help pour milk into her sister’s cup and all of the milk goes flowing over the table and at that exact moment the baby throws her food across the kitchen and it lands on the cat, who then takes off running and knocks over the diaper bag in the hallway. I was able to see those moments as the hilarious occurrences they were. I was able to bring myself back to calm so much easier than before when I spent all of my time trying to be the best Pinterest parent I could be. Mamas, we need to give ourselves the permission to just be us. Do what we like to do, and in doing so find out who we really are again, with and without children. My mom-dentity is something I will continue to work on balancing, but I think going forward I will be much more likely to schedule time for myself in the crazy, messy, beautiful life I live.