What to do When You've Lost Your Identity to Motherhood
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It happened shortly after my fourth daughter was born. I became depressed, but it wasn’t postpartum depression like I had after my third baby, who was then three years old.
It was a feeling of being trapped in my own house, even though I had the freedom to leave anytime I wanted. It was the feeling of being overwhelmed all day long by my duties of raising these precious babies. It was being needed every second of every day, even after I went to bed.
I felt tired, unappreciated, and hopeless. I just wanted this stage of life to end.
I wish I could say that was short-lived, but the reality is I still feel this way most days. My children are now 13, 9, 6, and 3. Raising our two oldest girls is a breeze right now. They are able to make their own breakfast and snacks, brush their own teeth and hair, bathe themselves, etc.
They don’t need me very often, and I love that. That means I’ve done a great job of teaching them how to take care of themselves. But these two little ones still need me every second of the day. I can’t even pee by myself.
I feel as though I’ve lost my identity to motherhood. I don’t remember just being Kari. Sometimes I don’t even remember who that girl is or what she enjoyed doing in her free time.
I know that I’ll miss these days; everyone tells me that. But that doesn’t help me get through the moments of overwhelm. What I need is to not feel so alone in this.
People say it takes a village, but that just isn’t true anymore. The village is Mom, and if she’s lucky, Dad is there too. I’m thankful for the understanding and thoughtful husband I have. He takes on half of the parenting responsibilities when he’s home, but he works a lot, so it’s mostly just me here.
I want to be a happier, more present mom with my kids. I want my kids to look back on their childhood with fond memories of me, and right now I feel as though they’ll only remember me being stressed out all the time. I need help, and that’s what this writing is about.
I’ve been researching and asking around for ways to not feel so overwhelmed in this important work called motherhood, and I’ve come up with a few ways I intend to beat this. I will have to be intentional about this because it’s not going to happen on its own. It’s going to be difficult, but nothing great is ever easy.
Here are a few ways I intend to be “me” again, and if you feel like you’ve lost your identity to motherhood, I invite you to join me.
What to do When You’ve Lost Your Identity to Motherhood
Talk about it
Find someone to talk to. Friends, your spouse, anyone who will listen. Keeping these feelings inside will eventually lead to an explosion. I’ve had a few of these explosions, and I’d like for it to never happen again.
Talking about it is like opening a pressure valve. Finding someone to talk about it with who understands can do so, so much for our sanity. This is one of the areas I need to work on.
Do something for yourself daily
I’ve been working on this for a while. My blog is my “something for yourself.” The one-year anniversary for my blog is coming up in a few days, and over the last year, being able to pour myself into this thing has been like therapy for me.
Starting my proofreading business over two years ago helped a lot with the depression I was having, but sometimes it still creeps back in. Blogging has been my backup and a way to express myself. I’ve even gained a few friendships with other bloggers because of it.
Have a routine
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a morning routine. I get up at 5:20 every weekday morning. That’s about an hour and a half before my littles get up, and it’s an hour and a half that is so precious to me. I need that time alone to get ready for the day. I’m not talking about doing my hair and makeup. I have a routine that I do every morning, and it usually looks like this:
5:20 - Get up and make coffee, see my husband off to work.
5:30 - Read the Bible verse of the day, and sometimes I’ll add in a reading plan.
5:40 - Write in my journal. I write what I’m grateful for and the goals that I’m working on.
5:45 - If I have proofreading work, I do that. If I don’t have proofreading work, I work on my blog.
6:45 - Wake up my third daughter to get ready for school. This is when the chaos begins. I’m so grateful for this time to myself in the mornings.
Have regular date nights with your spouse or friends
This is HUGE! If you’re married, having regular date nights is a must whether you’re feeling overwhelmed or not. We all need that time of connection with our spouses, but when you have kids, this can be a lifesaver. A night out with friends can do the same.
I always feel so refreshed and calm after a date with my husband. It’s one of the rare times I feel like I’m just Kari. There’s no pressure of getting things right with the kids and no one pulling on my pants asking for a snack for the 8,296th time that day.
We don’t do enough of this. My goal is to do this more often. At least twice a month. We haven’t had a date in over a month. Another is long overdue.
Remove yourself from the presence of your kids
I don’t think this one needs much explaining. Sometimes we just need to get away from our kids, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you have a partner who can take care of the kids for a little while, get away for an hour. Sometimes just a bath and a short nap is enough away time to feel refreshed and ready to take on more of that momming we need to do.
Change your perspective
This is a hard one for me. My perspective is usually skewed, and I know that. Most of the time, I’m thinking “This is too hard. I can’t do this anymore today. I wish they were older and didn’t need me so much. One day I’ll get to do (insert the thing I’ve been dreaming about doing for years).”
I have to stop doing that. I have to stop looking at motherhood like it’s a burden instead of the gift that it really is because the truth is, I WILL look back on this time and miss it. There will come a day when the house is quiet all the time and no one will be saying “mama,” and I’ll long for this time again.
So starting today, I’m changing my perspective. It’s an honor and a joy to be a mom. It may not be my eternal calling, but it’s my right-now calling, and I want to make the most of it. I want to see the beauty in every little thing. Every diaper change, every tantrum, every sibling fight, every spilled drink, every hug, every “I love you,” every boo-boo kiss, every “Mama, you look pretty,” and every nighttime cuddle. All of it.
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Being a mom is hard. I don’t have to tell you that. Feeling like you’ve lost your identity to motherhood is completely normal, but I believe these things mentioned above can help us get to know ourselves again. We don’t have to stay stuck in this, and we don’t have to let it steal our joy.
Motherhood is a blessing. A hard, messy, uncomfortable, wonderful, amazing blessing. Let’s take care of ourselves and show up for ourselves the way our kids need us to show up for them. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. How will you fill your cup today?
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