Last year I became a mom, and before my son was born I cozied up to my mom friends, and we talked about all the typical mom stuff – birth, recovery, post baby body and a lot of other lifestyle adjustments I should expect.
There was one topic that came up quite often that I hadn’t heard much about. Many of my mom friends shared with me how they had faced an identity crisis within their first year of motherhood. This new mom identity crisis didn’t discriminate based on whether you were a “working mom” or a “stay at home mom.” All were equal targets so I had it on my radar to be mindful of my thoughts and reach out to other moms to talk- should the crisis hit me too.
But, it wasn’t going to because I left my job three months before my son was born. I was regaining my work-life balance, which I had struggled to find for years. But now it completely tilted in the “life” side to make up for years of imbalance. To be honest, I kind of forgot I was having a baby and started to dream up new passions and career paths while working on my pre-baby project list.
Then my son was born, and I quickly realized the 3 month break I had was a time of rest before a whole new realm of work started.
It only took about 2 months before I began to feel insecure about how I was doing in my new “job” as mama since I couldn’t do it without the help of my husband. I thought I was pretty good at multitasking and serving clients with high expectations, so a baby would be cake… but it wasn’t.
I remember one late night hot shower that had me reflecting on the day. I had needed my husband’s help quite a bit and I knew he didn’t think my mothering skills were up to par since I wasn’t able to do it all myself. How could he not see all that I was juggling and give me a little grace? I plotted out all the points I would make the following morning when I confronted him about his negative thoughts towards me.
The next day we had our talk and much to my surprise my husband wasn’t the one with the negative thoughts. He thought I was doing a great job. I quickly realized I had been projecting my insecurities in an effort to cope with feeling like I wasn’t pulling my weight since I wasn’t bringing in a paycheck and I was failing to perform to perfection. Our conversation helped me to see that I needed to confront myself on my negative thoughts and unrealistic expectations.
Thankfully, I have a good friend who wrote an entire workbook study around identity, the false ones we tend to take on and what we look to for our self worth. It’s almost like this workbook was written specifically for me, despite it being for everyone, and it was clearly the right time for me to open it up and commit to the process.
The Identity: A Soul Journey workbook is designed to be studied in a group setting, so with 8 other women from different walks of life I spent 7 weeks working through it. We each had to be honest, open and vulnerable to face our individual struggles, mine being self-worth in relation to work and shame.
Taking the time to process my identity was incredibly healing and has helped me to fully embrace my role as a mom. I no longer feel the need to feel guilt for staying home to take care of my baby each day. I don’t feel ashamed about no longer financially contributing to our family. I’m not failing to fulfill my potential by not showing my capabilities and competencies outside the home. I am who I am regardless of a job title, busy schedule, paycheck, achievements and my past mistakes. I needed a little help to accept and walk in that truth.
It feels like I’ve been given a fresh start and I’m grateful for the moms who shared their struggles with identity when entering into motherhood. Had I not been aware of it I probably would have wrestled a lot longer with my unnecessary insecurities and it would have taken a toll on my son, my marriage, others and myself.