So many of us anxiously awaited motherhood. Then, when it came, found ourselves slightly confused. Yes, I’m a mom and happy about it. But is that all I am? Let’s tackle some sahm identity issues head on!
I’ve written on my stay-at-home-mom identity crisis before. It’s one of my most popular posts because – well – it’s a common thing. You’re a tired mom and the resume for a stay at home mom is practically endless.
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You grow up and can’t wait to go to college.
You go to college and can’t wait to get married.
You get married and can’t wait to have kids.
You have kids and can’t wait to… hmm… I don’t know… sleep again?
Is this it? Who have I become? Have I lost myself?
I believe we get in this quandary because we often find identity in what we do as opposed to who we are.
But that’s easy to type and hard to internalize because… well… we are what we do, aren’t we? We mother throughout the day because we’re mothers. We feed our children because we’re nourishers. We try to be the best spouse we can be because we’re wives. We try to live biblically because we’re Christians. Or whatever the case may be.
So, how can we find our own identity outside of motherhood?
1. What are your strengths?
Before children, what were your strengths?
Now, as a mother, what are your strengths?
You’ll carry the strengths you’ve always had into motherhood, and likely motherhood has introduced you to more of your strengths. However, you had plenty of strong points before you were ever a mommy. Your strengths will point you towards how you were created as a person. If you were disciplined or fun or creative or a good listener, these will give you clues as to how you can best love and serve others. Maybe it’s time to ask others what they think and then learn to take a compliment.
I believe that we are most fulfilled in life when we’re using the talents and gifts God gave us. If you dig around to find your strengths, and begin to piece a way to use those for yourself, your family, and others, you may find fulfillment and satisfaction where you were previously just trying to survive the day.
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2. What are you drawn towards?
Before children, what were you drawn towards?
Now, as a mother, what are you drawn towards?
There are seasons where we are interested in specific things. Perhaps we read about parenting now that we’re parents, or perhaps we read a lot about travel before we went backpacking. But, aside from season and stage of life interests, what are the things deep down that interest you. That spike your curiosity. That you’d read about for no reason except you were just interested.
This may be history, art, psychology, biographies, language books, or anything else under the sun. I believe that what we are passionate about is no coincidence. Sure, it may not end up being an income earner for us, but that doesn’t mean God can’t use it. I’ve always been drawn towards history and mystery. For me, it means that I often dig out the meaning behind things or don’t settle for face value. I dig and root around until I get to the heart of a matter. This means that people can feel very understood and heard when they have a deep talk with me. I think, if used positively, it’s a great strength.
3. What would you do if money was no worry?
Before children, what type of “extra” did you spend your money on?
Now, as a mother, if you had some extra money lying around, what would you do with it?
Now, money is not at the heart of our identity, but what we spend our money on can help lead us to our passions. I’d always take an experience or a trip over something material. My heart loves the adventure, seeing new places, and meeting new people. I believe that’s how God made me and that He uses that about me to be able to relate to those whom others might think are difficult or odd. After you’ve lived on a few continents, you don’t think very much is odd at all!
If you had the money to give to what causes you wanted, where would you give? This might show you where your compassion lies and give you an indication of where you can spend some time and effort in the future.
4. If you could only pass on one thing to your kids, what would it be?
If I only had one child, I think I’d be a helicopter parent. With each child added to our family I’ve become less and less of a hoverer and more focused on where I put my energy. Issues of character, behavior, responsibility, and spiritual development are priorities. Anything else just doesn’t have room in my brain. From this I can see that raising little rescuers, warriors, and strong godly children is something God has given me a passion for.
Are you always exposing your children to music, languages or sports? Is one-on-one play a huge part of your day? Do you seek to make sure your children constantly feel loved and accepted? These are indications of where your strengths lie. Perhaps you’re pastoral. Maybe you’re a creativity champion. You could be able to bring out the best in people. Think of how you relate to your kids easily, and expand that into other areas of your life.
5. You won’t always be so “tied down”
There are seasons of life. Each season has with it ups and downs, priorities, and different activities that come under the “urgent” category. When children are very small, there are actually many daily things that are urgent and eat away at time you have for other things. You can’t neglect diaper changes. Children are unable to feed or clothe themselves or put themselves in the car or even in bed. You simply don’t have as much time as you will later in life.
As children get older the daily priorities will change, and while you’ll still be busy and always have things to do relating to your children emotionally, you will be freed up to use your gifts elsewhere more often. Every time you leave the house you won’t need a baby sitter. Eventually, you’ll be able to involve your kids with you as you serve others and use your gifts.
Being a mom is hard. It’s rewarding and a privilege, but it’s dang hard. It’s all consuming. You give and give and give for years and years. And, in so doing, you can lose some of what makes you you. Actually you don’t lose it, you just forget where it is. When you begin to wonder what your identity is, remember this.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
Your identity isn’t what you do, it’s who you are.
And even though it may seem buried right now, and though motherhood changes us all, we’re still the same women we were before. Except, in my opinion, even better.
Tell me, how did God make you?