You used to wear a million hats, but now you’ve become just a milkmaid, right?
Losing your identity is actually an exciting way to meet yourself again.
You’ve probably spent a good amount of your adult life so far figuring out your identity and what exactly makes you, well… you.
This post is all about losing your identity.
Before you had kids, maybe you were an avid hiker or loved to surf.
Or maybe you ran your monthly neighborhood book club or volunteered at an animal shelter.
You were an artist, a musician, a poet, a million different things, and now you’ve given birth to your bundle of joy, and it seems that you’re just a mom, or at least that’s how everyone else seems to view you.
Don’t get me wrong.
Motherhood is fantastic, and once you become a mother, it automatically encompasses a crucial part of your identity.
But even though you’re genuinely over the moon at acquiring the most important job in the world, sometimes you just feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself.
Trust me. You’re not alone.
As moms, we all have moments we feel like we’re losing our identity quicker than our new baby goes through a fresh pack of diapers.
It happens to all of us. Yes, to ALL of us.
However, for many of us, it’s one of the most shocking parts of motherhood.
Although it may seem like it, taking on the role of motherhood doesn’t mean we have to lose the essence of ourselves. We can be mothers AND the person we were before.
It just takes some focus and commitment.
Why Do I Suddenly Feel Invisible?
Recently, I had lunch with a good friend who gave birth for the first time a few months ago.
She’d finally snuck some time away from her cluster-feeding baby for a few hours, and I could tell she felt a mixture of relief and guilt.
As we caught up on life and chatted about her birth experience, she said, “Victoria, why do I suddenly feel so invisible?”
As she said those words, it hit me —she was having the not-often talked about “motherhood identity crisis.”
She’d felt like she had lost herself in her baby. A lot of us feel that way.
We just often feel like we can’t say it out loud.
I remember how it felt when I gave birth for the first time, and suddenly all everyone wanted to talk to me about was the baby.
No doubt, I loved talking about my new baby and everything motherhood entailed.
Still, I also longed for just one person to engage me in a conversation about something not motherhood-related.
Almost overnight, it seemed everyone forgot that I had been someone other than a mother at a point not too long before.
But I couldn’t speak up about it. Why?
Because I had a fear of being labeled “selfish” or a “bad mom.”
So I let it eat away at me and spent many nights consoling a crying baby, wondering if I’d ever feel like myself again.
Luckily, it didn’t take me too long (having a supportive husband definitely helped) to figure out that I could be a good mom and still hold on to the person I was before I gave birth.
It was all about finding the right balance. You can do it too!
You just need to intentionally commit to rediscovering yourself after motherhood.
Rediscovering Yourself After Motherhood — Steps To Reclaim Your Identity
Here’s some advice I wish I’d had when I set out to break free from my motherhood identity crisis.
If you’re feeling stuck between who you are now and who you used to be, try incorporating some of these into your new routine.
Dedicate Some “Me” Time Each Day
Many new moms will say that this step is easier said than done. I get it.
The demands of new motherhood aren’t exactly conducive to the idea of “me time.”
You have a brand new human dependent on you for their every need.
Of course, that comes first, but it doesn’t mean you have to put yourself dead last.
Even if it’s just five or ten minutes a day, take some time just for yourself.
Let your partner watch the baby and lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to.
Just commit to finding a few minutes of time.
Once you have that time, focus on doing something you truly enjoy.
If you love to read, set a timer and read it uninterrupted. If working out makes you happy, commit to taking a quick solo walk around the block.
Even lighting a candle and sitting in silence can help you feel like yourself again.
Trust me, as you ease into motherhood, you’ll eventually find more ways to incorporate this time into your day.
But as a brand new mom who’s just thrown into the thick of things, this small “self-care” ritual can help you feel like your own person again.
Get Dressed—Even If You’re Going Nowhere
Of course, this step doesn’t apply to those first few months of motherhood when you don’t know night from day and can barely put your baby down for a few minutes before needing to pick them up and feed again.
However, consider incorporating this step into your routine after you make it through those adjustment months.
With motherhood, we spend so much time attending to our baby’s needs that we often settle for not taking care of ourselves.
For me, I’ve always felt my best when my hair is done, and I’m dressed with a little bit of makeup applied.
So one day, a few months after the birth of my first child, I got up, and even though I knew that I didn’t have any set plans during the day, I decided to change out of my sweats, put on some makeup, and style my hair.
Let me tell you, it made such a difference that even I was surprised.
Suddenly, I felt a bit more like my “old self” again.
I had a little more bounce in my step, and I smiled at myself when I passed the mirror. I wasn’t just “mom,” I was “me.”
After that, I began the habit of dressing each day for myself, and wearing my favorite outfits, even just for a run to the grocery store, reminded me again that I was my own person.
Establish A “Baby-Free” Zone
This step seems a bit similar to dedicating “me time” each day, but it’s actually quite different.
By establishing a “baby-free” zone, I mean to give yourself permission to not talk about your baby for a little while and not feel guilty about it.
As a new mother, I had started noticing that during the few times I could sneak away for a girl’s night or lunch with a friend, all of our conversations revolved around the baby.
I almost felt like my friends thought that they couldn’t talk to me about anything else.
Not that I don’t love talking about my family and my children—I do!
It’s just that I actually like talking about other things too, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
So one night, when I met up with some friends, I told them straight out that I wanted to talk about other things that night, and they agreed.
Before long, I found myself laughing, catching up with them, and talking about everything except how many hours I’d been up nursing the night before.
It felt great!
At the end of the night, I left the get-together re-energized and more ready than ever to return home and fully rededicate myself to my motherhood duties.
Commit To At Least One “Pre-Baby” Activity Per Week
Depending on your support system and schedule, some new mothers might find this step harder than others.
However, if it’s doable, it’s definitely something that I highly recommend.
Think about all of the things that you loved to do before you had your baby.
Now, find a way to do at least one of those activities again, ideally once weekly.
One of my friends used to love playing tennis.
She’d been on a neighborhood team and competed each weekend against other local teams.
Not only did she love physical activity, but she also loved the social aspect of it.
Once she had her baby, she simply couldn’t dedicate as much time to it anymore and had to give up her spot on the competitive team.
Although the team’s schedule and numerous weekend tournaments proved too much for her with a newborn, she committed to joining her old teammates for one practice per week.
What a difference that one night made!
Not only could she keep up her skills for when she would have the time to join competitively again, but she also got to keep her social connections with her teammates, which played a massive part in helping her keep her identity.
Will I Ever Feel Like Myself Again?
Yes! You absolutely will rediscover yourself after motherhood, and it won’t take as long as you think.
If you commit to even one of these suggestions during your first year as a new mom, you’ll already make great strides toward keeping your identity.
As time goes by, you’ll find that you can incorporate more and more things and keep the momentum going.
This post was all about losing your identity.
I’m not going to lie and say that it’s easy or that you won’t have days that you feel like you are drowning and nothing more than an empty shell of who you used to be, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Your children will continue to grow, and as they do, you’ll have more and more time to dedicate to “you.”
If you make a conscious effort from the beginning to balance your personal identity with your motherhood identity, you’ll find that you’re happier, healthier, and an overall better mother.
Have faith, moms. You can do this!