Motherhood and Identity
During the second month of motherhood, I wrote nothing but the following, "motherhood is drowning me, life is drowning me". Fast forward to month three. My journal evolves as I meld into my role as a mama and start to question 'who am I?'. Or perhaps more importantly - 'who do I want to be?'.
I'd created an identity for myself based on the roles I played, the things I did and the stuff I bought. I was the career woman, the FIFO worker, the traveller, the bookworm, the organiser, the girl who bought herself designer bags. When these were no longer part of my "new life", I spiralled into a constant state of feeling like something was missing.
During the first 18 months, my physical support network was almost non-existent. For a large majority of the time, I was home alone with my newborn/baby/toddler with very little opportunity for a break. I don't say this to garner sympathy even though I often did feel VERY sorry for myself. But mostly I felt confused, angry, frustrated and lost. I didn't want to be "just a Mum". How do I give 150% to this very important role and not lose sight of who I am?
If I had known then how common it was for a mother to feel this way, maybe I wouldn't have felt so alone. If I had known then how to manage my mindset, maybe I wouldn't have drowned in the responsibility of parenting.
In any case, irrespective of our support system there are so many mothers out there struggling. We come from all walks of life; single, married, working, stay-at-home, rich, poor, somewhere in between, surrounded by our family, living overseas. We are all just trying to figure this out. We are all mothers. None of us is better off or worse off than the next.
We are not alone. We are not stuck. We do not just have to survive.
75 days into motherhood
I've felt scatterbrained since Beauden was born. It's as though I’ve lost my identity and I have no idea where to find it. It’s a hard balance trying to put myself first and be everything else I need to be. I think if one more person tells me to sleep when the baby sleeps I'll scream.
I never ever wanted kids and lately, the days where I don’t want to be a mum and want my old life back seem more frequent. When people ask how I like being a mum I lie. I say all the right things like "it's great, I'm handling it well, I love being a mother". It's not great, it's really fucking hard. I find it amusing to reflect back on my life and compare it to now. I spent so much time putting others needs before my own and doing things I didn't want to do because I felt like I had to. Now, here I am with this beautiful boy who really does NEED me, literally for his survival, and I just feel tired. Not like ‘oh a nap will pick me up’ tired, but fucking exhausted.
I had a pretty amazing life before and more importantly, I was free. I travelled, I had goals, I was interesting, my days were interesting. Where is Monique I wonder? I don’t wish my baby away. I love him so much. But I honestly don't know where I go to from here. I don't know how to figure out what my new life is going to look like.
I’m not sure how to fill and stimulate my days – sometimes they drag on and on. One session of feeding, playing, burping, cleaning, sleeping rolls into another and before I know it, it’s bedtime and I feel more brain-dead than the day before.
Beauden was better today but mainly because I held him most of the day. He’s learning so many new things it blows my mind. He’s trying to crawl, he giggles, he’s ticklish, he stares at his hands, he rolls over easily, he gets a fright, he tries to grab his toys.
I can hear the baby stirring in the background and I pray for just a moment of silence. I want to drink my coffee in the afternoon breeze and write without a minute of interruption to my inner reflection. Ahhhh but the baby waits for no-one so up I get and hope to resettle him for yet another measly 5 minutes’ sleep.
Once you've had a chance to read, I'd love to know:
Are you a Mum who has been there or is there right now? What stories, wisdom and struggles have you experienced trying to figure out who you are while knee deep in motherhood?
Leave a comment below and let me know. Remember, share as much detail as possible in your reply. I want to create a space where people can come here each week for insight and inspiration, and your story may help someone else have a meaningful breakthrough.