What happens to us when we become mothers? For some of us, becoming a mother can trigger an identity crisis, writes Jo Ward.
No matter whether you return to work six weeks after having your baby, or whether you choose to stay at home, first and foremost your role has changed to one of mother, mama, mum or mummy. Children can consume your life and how you define yourself can have a huge impact on your mental health, leading to the ‘baby blues’ and sometimes resulting in full blown postpartum depression. It can also impact the next twenty years of your life as you concentrate on parenting.
It’s a silent process that can creep up us. Before we know it, we have lost our self-esteem. We don’t care how we look, sometimes being quite happy to slob around the house in PJ’s covered in baby sick. By the way, there’s nothing wrong with that for a couple of weeks after giving birth. In fact, it will reinforce to others that you are a new parent and not a ‘Supermum’ as portrayed by certain celebrities in the media. The myth of the ‘Supermum’ makes parenting look easy, and it isn’t. In fact, it can be dangerous and can make us feel inadequate and unhappy as we strive to follow in the shadow of this image of perfection.
Those first few weeks of becoming a new parent are often a blur of sleepless nights, feeding and anxieties about how your new-born is progressing. Everything is just a phase, and you will get through it. Becoming a mother is a redefining moment, so embrace it.
Taking time out to focus on what you like to do is so important. Ah, you say, time – what’s that? Now that you are a parent, ‘me time’ can be a rare phenomenon.
You will lose some; you will find some new ones. Surround yourself with positive people who make you feel good about the job you are doing. Stick with the ones who just love you for being ‘you’ and who understand the chaos of being a mother. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family or friends. Meet other new mums at the Baby and Toddler groups in your area and join online social media communities to connect with other mothers.
There is nothing wrong with treating yourself. Take time out to have a long soak in the bath or enjoy reading a magazine whilst sipping a coffee. Yes, easier said than done, but important to factor in time just for you. Motherhood can be monotonous, so indulging in the odd treat is fine.
Don’t lost sight of those passions in life. You can still follow your dreams; it may just be a bit harder to juggle motherhood with everything else. Above all, be kind to yourself. Ask yourself what you can do to make you feel happier and don’t feel guilty about carrying it through. Life will feel normal again.
Reconnect with Yourself
It is perfectly possible to be both a mother and the person you once were. You can still have intelligent conversations; they don’t all have to be about the pros and cons of breastfeeding or whether your child is progressing at the same rate as their friends.
Becoming a parent may change you at a fundamental level, but what it hasn’t changed is your loves, likes and dislikes. Remember, you may be a mother, but you are also a woman.