As a mother, have you ever looked in the mirror and asked, "Who am I? Where did the woman I used to know go? Will I ever be known by my real name again, or will it always be (someone's) mom from this point forward?"
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in good company. Plenty of moms out there wonder the same thing.
Although being a mom is a great gift, a lot of moms struggle with losing their identity in the midst of motherhood. Let's face it, from the time they are born, children require a lot of time, energy and brainpower. It is easy to feel like your identity is slowly fading away as you constantly focus on your family.
While many moms have resigned themselves to thinking this is just how life is, losing your identity in the name of motherhood isn't helpful to you or your children. If your tank is running low because of all you do for your kids, more than likely your stress level is high, your fuse is short and the least little curveball can throw your entire day or week into a full-blown tailspin. You may even feel guilty about doing something for yourself and think that it may add more stress to the already-complicated schedule.
On top of this, moms often play the comparison game. It may seem that one woman's children behave better, she keeps a cleaner house or is better-equipped for all sorts of tasks.
If you are in the early years of parenting, moms who have been there have some words of wisdom to share with you. Here's what they wish someone had shared with them during that stage of their lives.
-Make sure you surround yourself with a supportive friend group that includes women your age and older.
-Ask for what you need. Don't assume your spouse or others know your needs. Tell them.
-It's really important for your children to see who you are as a person. Consider what you really enjoy doing or are passionate about. Seek to create opportunities to engage in those pursuits. Even involving your children in those activities isn't a bad thing.
Growing up in a family where children learn that the world does not revolve around them is healthy. Creating space to re-energize and regroup teaches your children the importance of taking care of yourself.
In the end, you are preparing your children to leave the nest and be independent. But when the time comes for the kids to leave, many moms find themselves in an identity crisis because their entire world has revolved around being a mom. Maintaining some independence of your own and modeling care for yourself as you raise your children is crucial to your well-being and theirs. Then when the next stage comes along, you'll be ready to take it on with confidence.
Julie Baumgardner is the president and chief executive officer of First Things First. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.