It’s a common feeling for many to lose touch with their sense of self after entering parenthood. But your identity loss shouldn’t be permanent, and these tips can help.
Creating a sense of self-hood seems like an individualistic endeavor, but what happens when your sense of identity becomes intrinsically connected to another person, such as your baby?
A person who is intimately yours—you created them, nurture them, love them—but they are not you.
Who are you if not a mother? A partner? A daughter? An employee? Who are you if you’re not defining yourself with someone or something else?
Postpartum identity affects many mothers
A quick Google search for “losing yourself in motherhood” yields about 6,520,000 results. This begs the question: why do so many women feel as though they can no longer be themselves after becoming parents?
We know the basics of this motherhood identity conundrum:
- You have less time for yourself
- You are consumed by the concern of keeping a new, tiny human alive
- Your days and nights are turned upside down
- Your identity shifts drastically almost instantly
Rediscover yourself after motherhood
With the above facts of your new reality in mind, how can you move beyond surface-level self-care and toward the maintenance of self-identity?
Better yet, how can we go into a new experience like motherhood without worrying about losing ourselves, without needing to rely on “wellness gurus” and nicely packaged products to maintain a sense of self?
Many a mom blogger suggests things like taking up hobbies that you enjoyed pre-parenthood, finding a few minutes each day for yourself, and remembering why you wanted to become a mom in the first place.
While well intentioned, for the sake of our mothers, we must go deeper.Mira Lax
Daily rituals, wellness journals, and crafts are all great—and important, lovely ways to spend your time—but they don’t necessarily help solve the motherhood identity-loss problem of “Who am I?”
Tips to find yourself again after motherhood
If you’re asking yourself, “how do I find myself again after motherhood?” — keep reading.
Below you’ll find five transformative tips to help you rediscover yourself after becoming a mother. Implementing these tips may take time and practice, but your effort is worth it. You are worth it.
It’s essential to accept that this new chapter does not mean that the “old” you is gone for good. Your life is not defined by doors opening and closing. It is not linear. You are evolving. Understanding and accepting this nuance is key.
This also involves accepting that each phase of motherhood—from the early, blurry days of your fourth trimester to the moment your nest is empty (and beyond!) comes with its own unique set of challenges. You’re allowed to give yourself the time and compassion to figure out who you are during each new stage. And you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
This identity shifting is not exclusive to your first child, either. Each time you add a new family member you are becoming someone new. Allow yourself space and grace to do so.
You must acknowledge that you can be two things at once. You can be a mom and a writer, a mom and a friend, a mom and a doctor. Who says you have to choose?
Knowing that you can hold two or more identities—even if they seem at odds with each other at times—is critical to realizing how multifaceted you are, especially now that you’ve added a new (and huge) job title to your life: Mom.
Your baby does not preclude you from enjoying what you enjoyed before they entered the world. Sure, the logistics are harder and you’re more strapped for time, but you’re still a human being with wants, needs, desires, and goals. Remember that.
Make sure to make time for yourself and the hobbies you love, even if it takes some extra time to figure it all out.
You don’t need to “put your life on hold” just because you chose to raise a child or several children. Their childhood and your adulthood are not mutually exclusive. You can still be a fully-fledged human while also parenting other humans. You may just need a couple of to-do lists and a good calendar app.
It’s critical to ask for help. The adage that it takes a village isn’t age-old for no reason. Know who your people are, and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Keeping tiny people alive and healthy is more than a full-time job.
Final thoughts on motherhood and reclaiming your sense of self
Ultimately, all of this is to say that you can still be you.
Not “despite” or “regardless of” your newfound motherhood, but alongside it. Your mental health, your children, and your relationships will be better for it.
Explore more resources on motherhood:
- Feel Like You’re Losing Your Identity in Motherhood? Read This
- Tips for Balancing Motherhood with Multiple Children
- Your Postpartum Matters: Redefining Support for Moms