Motherhood changes everything, even your identity
I originally wrote these words in May of 2013 when my son was 4 months old and my daughter was 3 years old. Having a baby changes everything and finding myself again after having a baby was challenging. Even now that my kids are 9 and 12, I still have trouble with loses my unique identity in the busyness of motherhood.
When my daughter was born 3-1/2 years ago, I remember once the fog lifted a bit, I wondered when or if I’d ever feel like myself again. In a way, I mourned the Stacey I once was. I didn’t know if I’d ever feel anything like her again. I was both OK with that and sad about that. But I had to wonder whether if finding myself again would ever happen.
I remember the first day I returned to my home office to work for a couple of hours while my mom watched my baby girl. Even though my breast pump came with me and I did a pumping session whilst typing away, I felt for those couple of hours like the me I used to be and it was glorious.
During her lifetime, I’ve found a way to sort of balance it all out. I’ve gotten breaks and chances to be a journalist. I’ve gotten breaks and chances to be a wife. And I’ve gotten breaks and chances to be more than a mom. Because, if all of us moms are honest, sometimes we need to be someone other than mommy. Sometimes we need to be more than a kleenex, jungle gym, dairy cow, bottom wiper, clothes changer, laundry doer and food maker. Sometimes we need to be a woman. We need moments to just be silent. And we need to have a moment to think in peace.
Losing myself again with a second baby
I knew I’d deal with these feelings again when I had a second baby. And I have. I love my son just as completely as I love my daughter, even when he’s being high maintenance as he sometimes is. I love him even now when he’s kicking me in the arm while I’m trying to type this blog post as my daughter is distracted working on a bracelet (and never you mind that they’re both still in their pajamas and it’s almost 11 a.m.). I’m now getting just enough sleep and have been in this mom-of-a-baby phase long enough that I’ve started on the journey of finding myself again. Or trying to.
Last week I had a chance to be in the car by myself for a few minutes while my children were at my parents’ house before our birthday celebration. It was just a few minutes. I realized I could not only listen to the music of my choosing but I could turn it up. I could sing along at the top of my lungs and not have to try and have an ongoing conversation with a constantly chatting 3-year-old. For those few minutes I realized that I was still me. And I also realized the old, old Stacey is gone. I am now Mom Stacey. Somehow I’m OK with it.
Finding myself in a new way
Though being a mom drains me sometimes. Though it sucks my energy and occasionally makes me want to run away screaming, it also makes me who I am now. And it makes me happy. I’d be lying if I told you I was happy every single moment of motherhood. I’m not. But at my very core, being a mother is now who I am.
Being with my children can also re-energize me. Looking at their faces and meeting their needs sometimes keeps me going and moving on days when I otherwise would want to just crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. When I act strong and calm for them when I’m frustrated, I actually feel stronger and calmer. It turns out that if you fake it long enough, it rubs off on you. I want them to see me smile. So, I keep smiling even when I don’t feel like it. And I end up being happier in the end. It could have to do with their sweet smiles back at me.
This time around, I know there is no going back. I’ll never be the Stacey I was before having children. Being a mom changes you forever. And I will forever be their mother, no matter what. This time around I’m not longing for that old Stacey. I do still sometimes crave alone time. I do still need time alone with my husband. But, I also realize that when we are all together I feel the happiest and most complete. This is my family. We’re continuing the journey my husband and I started when we got married.
Just as I adjusted to the title and role of wife, I have now adjusted to the title and role of mother. It is my identity. It won’t ever be my complete identity, but it’s a big part of me. Right now Mommy is 95 percent of who I am and what I do. But there’s still 5 percent reserved for just Stacey. That percentage will wax and wane in the years to come, I’m sure. I’m sure I’ll have times of finding myself all over again. That’s how life works. For now, I’m fully embracing my role as mother. Now it makes me who I am.