Many women a mother arrive on my blog because they googled “I’ve lost my identity after being a mom.” It can happen, here are some of the major causes of a stay-at-home-mom identity crisis.
I was riding along in the car the other day listening to the radio when a song came on from high school.
A song I knew every word to.
I didn’t particularly love this song, but it got me thinking. You know… I used to like music. I used to know the names of up and coming bands. I bought CDs before they were cool and I loved listening to music.
I went to concerts.
I danced with friends and strangers.
I had a social life.
In that moment it became clear to me that, along with music, I’ve let go of many other habits and things I used to enjoy. I eat out less. I travel less. I see my friends less. I’ve seen two movies in the theater in the past year, and both have been cartoons.
It isn’t that I don’t love being a mother. I really really do. But I’m still living in the transition from who I used to be, to who I am now. So many parts about my life have changed, and I’m struggling to catch up with myself.
You remember the days…
You watched what you wanted to watch. You ate when you wanted to eat and at the temperature you wanted to eat it. You slept when you felt tired and stayed up if you didn’t. You know… you were in control of your own life.
Though you’re still in control of your own life now, things are different. Your desires, motivations, and spontaneous urges don’t factor into your decision making as much as they used to. Now, you consider your children’s needs equal to or above your own in the day to day.
This is good and fine and right.
But it’s still a shock to the system.
It still takes getting used to.
Reasons moms lose their identity
I want to mention here (before you send me hate mail) that these things in themselves are not bad.
They are morally neutral.
It isn’t that you’re wrong if you do them, just that their effects can have an unanticipated effect on you.
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1. Moms lose their identity because their lives revolve around their kids
This is perplexing because – hello – when we have kids our days do revolve around them. However, there’s a difference in your daily routine revolving around the kids and the entire meaning of your life revolving around them. You can still be on duty 24/7 and be involved in other things.
Adult bible studies, girls nights, charity work, or service projects with your kids will take you from your four walls home bubble to a more well-rounded perspective. I struggle with this as a mom to many young ones who also writes about raising young ones.
I have to seek out other things or I get tunnel vision.
2. Moms lose their identity because they stop caring about how they look
I used to take pleasure choosing an outfit, doing my hair, and accessorizing each morning.
I liked it.
Now I’m lucky if I bother to cover my hair in a cap and find matching exercise tops and bottoms. Some days I do, some days I don’t. This is a non-issue for me because I know it’ll change with time, however…
It does cause me to feel that I’m not the “woman” I used to be. I don’t look as put together or attractive as I once did. I look at women with one or two children or all in school and think… “Wow… her nails match her outfit…” I’m not crying on my pillow about it, but it does make a difference.
3. Moms lose their identity because they have to slow down (even though they feel more busy)
This is a big one for many women.
They are used to be so involved in many things that becoming a mother can be difficult. I did a survey once and the #1 challenge mothers mentioned was loneliness. They felt isolated, alone, and bored at home when their babies were small.
Having children can be a big change for your personality and temperament. This life change can make you feel like a different person. Perhaps you aren’t the life of the party or don’t see your friends very often.
While this in itself might not bother you, it will still affect how you see yourself.
4. Moms lose their identity because their identity revolved around their job.
Some girls dreamed of becoming a mom since childhood. These moms may find the transition to motherhood easier. Others find it more difficult.
Moms who have given up a fulfilling career to come home may have symptoms akin to shock.
Even if it’s your choice to stay at home (and you don’t regret it), it’s a big change to lose the validation and satisfaction of a job well done. Especially a job with measurable results. The job may not feel as important, and it definitely doesn’t pay as well.
But be encouraged, as the wise lady at my corner store says,”Motherhood is unpaid, yet still highly rewarding.”
5. Moms lose their identity because they’ve lost freedom they once had.
This was a big one for me.
As an only child (birth order does matters) who had traveled extensively, not being able to do “whatever I wanted when I wanted” has been an ongoing struggle.
I have been happy to make choices that benefit my entire family, but it has changed the way my life looks in every way. Very little going out, staying up late, or socializing. Of course, I can still do these things with kids, but life has shifted and it’s been disconcerting.
6. Moms lose their identity because they don’t get enough sleep.
Prioritizing sleep is a must.
If a mother and baby are sleep-deprived and overtired, moods become erratic. Emotions remain just under the surface. While the newborn period may be tough to survive, after that things should get easier.
In fact, the number one thing that decreases stress is rest. Yes, we’ll probably all sleep with one ear open forever now that we have others to watch over, but that doesn’t mean we need to turn into Mombies.
How moms can find their identity again
This isn’t hard or fast, but here are some general ways you can try to stay connected to who you are, not just your role.
- Find new ways to connect with friends | Instead of regular nights out or coffee dates, have playdates or monthly book clubs. Instead of restaurants and movies try the park or a local playground.
- Have a hobby | Here are 60+ hobbies good for the sahm lifestyle, but try to find a hobby you used to love and make time for it. Even if it’s something more active like hiking, try to fit it in even once a quarter. You may think it’s impossible, but if you work hard to make it happen, it will.
- Stop comparing | This is the “secret” to being content in each season. Even so, it’s hard not to look back and forward when times are tough. By focusing on the things that are fleeting now (chubby baby thighs) you’ll be less likely to be jealous of old times.
- Get help | Whether you need to hire someone, trade babysitting, beg family members, or just go to playgroups with helpers… do what you need to do. If you are a weary and overwhelmed mom, the effects will build up.
- Take care of yourself | Put the baby or toddler in the crib and take a shower. If you loved clothes, get dressed up. If you liked having nice hair, do your hair. Don’t neglect the things that used to bring you pride and pleasure, even if no one sees them but the baby, you’ll feel better.
You will never have a life like you did pre-motherhood, and that’s okay.
But you can slowly start to find yourself again.
Your identity isn’t lost, it’s just buried under diapers and onesies.