"Mom" Isn't My Identity
I have changed, yes. But not every part of me has changed.
Yes, hi, hello. I have a daughter. It's no surprise. I mean, I'm always posting about her, sharing cute stories, and spending 99.9% of my day with or around her. And because I have a daughter, I am now a mom.
Yes, I am a mom — but who I am is not "mom"
Being a mother was never my planned identity. I didn't grow up thinking I was going to have a baby at all. I was more interested in living my life days and weeks at a time, rather than months and years. In all honesty, I'd rather be known for my accomplishments outside of this motherly role. My career, my hobbies, my hopes and my dreams are all relevant to my identity. Not just the fact that I'd had a baby.
Some people may assume that just because I do not identify strictly as a mother that I am a bad mom. Oh, on the contrary, my friends. Allowing myself to have other parts of who I am as a person shine through makes me a better, happier and more caring mother. I know, right?! How does that work?
Most of the people I know who don't have kids are always fearful of this exact scenario happening to them. Having a child (to them) means giving up being who they are right now and becoming "mom". In fact, I used to feel this way, too.
"When I become a mom I'll have to change my interests, my style and my personality to better suit my family and their needs."
However, by doing all of those things, I'd be servicing no one's needs, because the reality of the matter is that I would no longer be who I am.
I'm a mom, yes. But I'm also a writer, a marketing lover, content creator, and an athlete. I have tattoos that aren't going anywhere. I dress like I'm in my 20s because I am in my 20s. I spend a portion of my maternity leave working on projects because I love that part of my life. I have changed, yes. But not every part of me has changed.
Becoming a mom is extremely challenging
As soon as I had a child people started calling me mom. I was no longer Alyssa. And I hated it.
For the first few months, I had felt that I needed to grieve a part of my life that would no longer exist. Was I ever going to have my old lifestyle back? Maybe. Would I ever have my old self back? Hunny, she never left.
When you become a mom, your life immediately starts to revolve around your child. You likely won't have time to focus on the things you used to spend hours doing. Even small things like listening to new music become difficult. Mostly because that is time better spent elsewhere. Like, watching your baby nap while simultaneously looking at pictures of them as a newborn. No, but seriously. Things do change. You fall in love in a way that you never knew was possible.
When you become a mom, your life slows down in some ways but runs in fast forward in others. You no longer have time to run out and get some errands done at the drop of the hat. These things take time, planning and a ton of energy. Therefore, completing one thing a day is honestly a miracle. So, how do you choose? You can either focus on exerting that energy on mothering or focus on exerting that energy on working. The choice is never easy.
I keep my real identity by doing small but impactful things with what little time I have — and you can too
Keep up with relationships that are important to you. It can be so easy to lose touch with friends and family that you once spent tons of time chatting with. If someone calls you and your baby is crying, it's easy to forget to call someone back and slowly drift apart from those people because you're at different stages in life. However, having a relationship that is important to you and is an outside perspective can help keep you-you. Each week, my friend FaceTimes or calls me at the same time on the same day. Some weeks we can chat, others we can't. But we make time either way. Moms need this.
Spend time alone. You may have been a social butterfly before having a child. You may have been an extreme introvert. Either way, each of these personalities needs alone time. Everyone can benefit from 10-15 minutes a day just reading a book, doing a quick workout or going for a brisk walk. Even if your baby is in the stroller napping — that time in silence is such a difference maker.
Choose one hobby that you can easily manage. Before you had a baby and everyone and their dog started calling you "mom", there was something that made you tick. Whether it was crafts, soccer, blogging or pilates, you can keep that hobby in your life. And you should. Even if it's once a week, there are ways to incorporate your hobbies into your jam-packed days. Especially if it means you'll be happy.
Don't let other people determine who you are. When friends and family refer to you as "mom" or don't acknowledge you at all, remind them that you are still you. Although they have the best of intentions, it's important to realize that by ignoring or stifling your identity, they aren't just changing who you are in their own mind, but they are also changing their relationship with you without realizing.
Be aware of pop culture, politics and world news. When you finally have time to spend a few minutes alone or are able to connect with an old friend, wouldn't it be great if aside from baby poop stories and video clips of them rolling over for hours on end you also had other things to discuss? It's perfectly acceptable to continue to watch the news, stay involved in the world of celebrity gossip and also to stay up to date on the political climate in your city and country.
Hire help. If you are financially capable, it's never a bad idea to hire childcare. Even just a few hours a week can allow you the time you need to do all of the above and more. If you cannot afford childcare, consider asking friends or family for help. Not near anyone you can trust? Make sure that your significant other is on board with helping you keep your identity. Trust me, they'll want the same.
Before you give in and refer to yourself as "mom" just because everyone else is doing it — don't
Remember that you are still the same person you were before you had a child. The only difference is that your priorities have changed and your time has shifted. However, these changes while intense, are not permanent. Therefore, in a few years when you get more and more time back and freedom to explore your old hobbies, it might be a lot simpler to do this if you never lost those things in the first place.
For a few years, you'll have to work harder to remind yourself and your friends that you aren't just a mom, but that you're also still you.
What's been the hardest part of keeping your identity after becoming a mom? Let me know in the comments!