It’s hard to remember that you are more than just a mom when this is what you hear all day. Whether it is the cry of an infant or the scream of a teenager, mom is being called. Many a mom will recount the story of their 6 year old getting up from the couch where they sit beside their other parent to walk into another room and ask their mother (who is usually washing dishes, folding laundry or paying bills) to make them a snack.
It’s no wonder that so many moms, whether new or well into years of parenting, are at a loss when asked what hobbies they have, or how else they describe themselves. It comes as no surprise that many moms have lost their sense of self and their identity other than that of Mom. The interesting thing is that most women suffering from Postpartum Depression or other PMADs will very readily tell you “I’m not myself” or “I can’t handle the things I used to”. Most women classify these statements as being very separate from their sense of identity. And they are…but also can be pre-cursors.
Whether you suffer(ed) from a PMAD or not, the inability to identify ones self outside of any single role is unhealthy. Having a PMAD is not who you are as a mom, it is something you experienced, quite outside your control and something you did or will overcome. It is not who you are as a mom, or a wife, or an individual.
And the same holds true for Mommy. Being a mother is part of who you are, not only who you are. Take time to think about your other roles…daughter, sister, wife, aunt, niece, friend, teacher, employee, employer, volunteer, writer, artist, musician, athlete…the list is endless. But, again, all too often, I hear moms say “I used to paint,” or “I used to be a basketball player”. They are stuck with what used to be because their self-identity has become so narrow and all encompassing with being a mom. Occasionally they will include wife as part of their identity though this is often in the context of being the person who takes care of certain things at home rather than in the context of being a partner to another adult.
Being a whole person is important to your role as a mother. All these other parts of you that have fallen away from your identity have contributed to who you are as a mom. Identify them, nourish them, give them attention and time in your life again. Realize all that makes you up, all that brought you to where you are in life now, all the experiences and roles that made you who you are. Recognize that you are a person outside of being a mom and that you deserve a full and happy life with many interactions and experiences. Teach your children about the other parts of you and expect them to see you as a person (this may take years). Work with your partner (or other family and friends) to make sure you are able to give attention to your self-identity outside of being a mom. This does not have to take a lot of time, energy or money. It has to take thought, valuing yourself and changing how you and others see you.
A well-rounded, multifaceted mom makes for a healthier mom and this can create benefits for everyone in the family.