How To Find Yourself in Motherhood When You’ve Lost Yourself in Motherhood
I think the first time I realized I had lost myself in this glorious thing called motherhood was in the middle of a Walmart. I was two kids deep, it was early morning, I hadn’t washed the mascara off my face from the day before and I was walking around in sweat pants and my husbands big ol’ sweatshirt. That’s life sometimes: life is messy and silly and sometimes parenting feels like a giant run to Walmart to grab that thing you forgot about that you desperately need all of the sudden. Nothing was wrong with this scenario, but I just didn’t know who I was anymore. It seemed like everyone around me knew where they were going. The friends in my life seemed so successful and here I was and my biggest decision in life was which sippy cup is the least likely to spill or go mouldy. I must have looked like a crazy person that day because I literally laughed out loud at myself, thinking, I’m going to be on that website “ppl of Walmart” any day now. And I also thought, it’s a good thing that I don’t care what others think of me, but have I actually just stopped caring about myself? When’s the last time I REALLY and TRULY cared for myself or thought about my dreams and my passions—what were those even?
Maybe you’ve found yourself talking to another mother through their children. We all do it. Instead of saying, “Hi! My name is Melissa! What’s your name? What are you passionate about?” We say, “What’s your little one’s name? How old is he/she?” I’ve left an entire conversation realizing that I never even got the name of the mother I was talking too!!! AND she is SO much more than a mom. She is a girl with hopes and dreams, a human, like the rest of us, who wants to be seen and understood.
Do you find yourself weepy at any form of tenderness? Or maybe the exact opposite, maybe your walls go up the minute someone (other than your children) starts showing you affection.
Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel lonely? Do you feel bitter or judgmental when you see other moms taking care of themselves? Or maybe you simply don’t feel like you know who you are anymore. GURL, I have been there. I hope you find a spark of life after reading this, that you feel hope fill your heart. That you remember: You are lovely. You are good.
Gratitude. No, I don’t mean being thankful for your family (as important as that is) HECK! I know you love your family! That’s WHY you are in this place! I want you to humour me and put your hand over your heart and say to yourself: “Thank you.” Motherhood is hard. Sometimes it feels like you’re in a den of wolves. But you are still here. You did what you needed to do. You died to yourself a hundred times, you sacrificed your life for those little bodies. You are in this place not because you’ve done something wrong, but because you’ve done something right.
Forgiveness. Humour me further and forgive yourself. Say it out loud: “[Your name], I forgive you.” No one is perfect, and I’m sorry but you’re just not the exception. So stop holding yourself to an impossible standard. Your kids just want you. Not some other mom, just you. Do you ever find yourself so irritable? Sometimes that’s just your kids being annoying, but a lot of times that’s you holding yourself to some unattainable standard. But instead of it making you a “better mom,” it just makes you a grumpy mom.
Get away from your kids. Yep! Leave them alone. A rested, happy mom is better than an ever-present cranky mom! Sometimes I do the “right thing.” It’s a Saturday afternoon, I sit down and I play with my kids. Other times I do what I need and I put on a movie so I can have a bath and read a book—remember reading? Take up an old hobby or a new one, something separate from your “mom duties,” something that reminds you that you are human. Yes, you are a mother, but you’re also a unique individual. My sister and her husband joined a volleyball league together recently (nothing crazy competitive), and it has been SO life giving for them! Go out on a date and agree to NOT talk about the children. Go bowling or go to the arcade. Do something that’s fun, that makes you laugh. Dream with your spouse again. Even if you can’t achieve all your dreams right now, keep them alive, or dream up new ones because dreaming inspires passion and hope.
Your kids are NOT your friends. Find adult friends. Look I totally get it, we feel so close to our kids and we hang out with them all the time. But you can’t confide in your kids, your kids cannot support you when you’re in need, at least not while they are little. If you’re wondering how to make adult friends, read my previous blog.
Boundaries. NO LEGO before my morning coffee. That’s one of my rules and I’m sticking to it. Mom can play after she has sat down and enjoyed her coffee. Make a morning ritual for yourself, or an afternoon one, or a night one—you get the point. Your kids might complain at first, but soon they will get used to it. Boundaries are healthy for parents and for children.
Buy yourself pretty underwear. YUP! You heard me right! You deserve to feel special! You need to remind yourself that YOU ARE A SEXY MOTHER FLIPPING WOMAN!!! LOL. You don’t need a bunch of new clothes to be beautiful. You are beautiful. A new pair of undies is cheap enough and can serve as a reminder that you are still the woman you were before you had babies—EXCEPT, now you’re stronger, more intricate, and wise. Your body has gone through one of nature’s most powerful and miraculous experiences. You are not less, you are immeasurably more.
I know, so much of this is easier said than done. But the more we learn to love and appreciate ourselves, the more we can love and appreciate others. It’s the age old “love others as you love yourself.” How can you truly love others if you don’t love you? I hope you find joy today and I hope you remember how wonderful and intriguing you are. You mama, you wife, you daughter, you woman, you deserve love.