The mom identity crisis
When I first had Liv, I used to get a little bummed out when I saw moms that looked so “put together.”
While reading mommy blogs, I’d see photos of these moms, perfectly coiffed, wearing heels and red lipstick, and here I was in yesterday’s pajamas, with sticky hair and a unibrow.
I feared quite a few things when Liv was first born. Many of them had to do with my own worries and insecurities about taking care of her: making sure she was warm, fed, happy, felt loved and was safe. And then there were the silly ones, some that seem so selfish looking back, but in the moment felt so permanent.
I was afraid I’d never be able to leave the house again. I was constantly attached to the pump, and I thought if I ever did get to leave the house, I’d emerge with a mangled mess of greasy hair, which would be up in a bun and my bangs pulled back, thus making said unibrow even more obvious to everyone around me. I’d never be able to paint my nails again.
I felt selfish for having these thoughts because obviously Liv was my number one concern, but I eventually realized that you need to care and worry about yourself too. The whole “put your oxygen mask on first” thing and all that jazz. If making sure you have two eyebrows is part of your oxygen mask, that’s ok. It’s a matter of doing that you need to do to make you feel good, and make you feel human when you feel like an isolated milk machine. In the thick of it all, I was also a little afraid of losing myself in the process of wholly loving and living for another person.
When you become a mom, you know and expect all of your priorities to shift down the totem pole, as caring for someone else becomes your number one job and passion. Even so, for me, there was also a fear of losing everything else I’d worked for and who I’d become in the path to motherhood. I had a bit of an identity crisis and felt pulled in many directions: mom, wife, fitness professional, blogger… I started to mentally compartmentalize each “identity” and task, and by doing so, took myself farther away from all of them. The more responsibilities and tasks you take on, the more they need to overlap so they’ll all fit. I didn’t want anything to overlap or take away from my mom identity, but at the same time, I feared that I might not have the time to do the small things I enjoyed, like read a book or see a movie with friends.
Looking back, I wish I would have had to foresight to see that the insane amount of worked paired with intense sleep deprivation was temporary, but foresight has never been my virtue. I live IN the moment, and the way things are at that particular second feel like they’ll exist as so, forever. It’s kinda silly, but I can’t help it. One of the things that helped me in the beginning was hearing other moms say that it was hard. It doesn’t mean that you love your baby any less, you didn’t want or expect it, but it feels good to hear a verbal acknowledgment of the truth. I think I’d be worried more to hear someone say that being a mom is super easy, or that they didn’t feel their life was any different after their child was born. When Liv was born, I had to mourn the loss of my old life, which was challenging and necessary as a new and more amazing one started to unfold. It’s not something that many moms talk about -as if by doing so you means that you want to go back to the way things used to be, which isn’t the case at all.
Sure, I *miss* going to the movies, taking random naps and coming and going however I pleased. Does it mean I want that time back? Absolutely not. You can miss and appreciate pieces of your old life while loving every second of the new one at the same time.
Now we’re at a time that seemed so far away in the beginning. We can now leave the house with no probs, and Liv is such a great and fun little companion. She talks and sings to me, can give me ideas of what she needs or wants, and we have a blast together. As much as I’m enjoying every moment and solidifying the beautiful memories in my mind, I’ve realized that even as things become easier, it’s still juggling. So many plates up in the air, you can drop the work plates but not the family or love plates.
While out at lunch one day, we watched a family with two very small children enjoying their Indian food dinner at a table in the restaurant near ours. Tom leaned over to me and whispered,”They just know how to orchestrate the chaos.”
And that’s all it is: a dance and orchestration of the many tasks and responsibilities for it to all come together. You shuffle and juggle the things you need to, while trying to make it as seamless and serene as possible. Even on the easier days, I may look like I might have it together with matching clothes on and Livi happily along with me. I know my hair’s not washed, I forgot the wipes and am praying to God there’s no #2 action while we’re out and about and we had PB&J for breakfast since we’re out of eggs.
It’s a stressful dance because you want to do it right, though you may take little missteps and fall-outs along the way. With the intricate movement and crescendoes throughout, you focus on where you are, do the best you can, and breathe in each beautiful moment.
Awww 🙂 such a sweet post – reading it somehow erases my fear of one day being a mother ( a little bit at least :p )
Thank you for always being an inspiration <3
Thank you SO much for sharing. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. You are doing a phenomenal job, Olivia looks up to you, and you’re still my motivation for all things health & fitness related! 🙂
You absolutely described feelings that I had as a new mom and I’m sure many other new moms as well. For me, I found the same feelings came back with each additional child, plus other feelings of not being as available to my older kids. It’s definitely a dance and each additional child changes the dance just when you think you’ve finally got things figured out and balanced. It’s not easy but I would not change it for the world.
That took a lot of courage to admit to yourself. Even more to admit publicly. I applaud you for being so heartfelt and honest. The fears you mentioned are the same that I and many others have feared. Before I met my husband, I wanted kids. Like REALLY wanted kids. I was so ready to be a mom, or so I thought. Then I met my husband and realized that I wasn’t ready to share him with a child. As horrible as that sounds, I really loved having time with just us. I felt awful to admit that to myself and even more so to admit that to my husband (who was also eager to have children.) I felt like I had failed him just because I wasn’t ready right away to give up everything and have a baby.
There is a selfishness in being a non-parent. You only have to worry about yourself and your significant other. It’s wonderful. But then you get to the point where you’re ready to start a family and, let’s face it, women have to sacrifice much more than men when it comes to kids.
We sacrifice our bodies, time, energy, sleep, breasts, “attractiveness***,” and careers all for the sake of bringing a new life into this world. It’s brilliant and wonderful and amazing, obviously.
But there is also a loss and many women are made to feel guilty for acknowledging it.
Thank you for being so brave to put this out there and let many other women know that they aren’t alone.
And that is nothing to be ashamed about.
***we feel like we do…I know many men who would disagree but as a woman you go through those times where you don’t feel pretty…especially postpartum. ***
this was a fantastic comment- thank you so much for chiming in 🙂
i agree that even though men can be awesome helpers, the women definitely have to sacrifice more when it comes to kids.
I love this post! I just had my second baby and although I am much for confident and calm this time around, I am still finding the steps to this special dance w/ two kids. Dry shampoo is seriously my best friend! 🙂
thank goodness for that stuff 🙂
Thank you for this post. I am 3 weeks away from having my first child, and to be completely honest, I am terrified. I’ve already felt isolated just from pregnancy…my single, childless friends and I aren’t on the same page anymore, and it’s been eye-opening. I love my baby girl with all of my heart and cannot wait to meet her, but at the same time I don’t want to completely give up the “old” me. It’s such a relief to hear that other moms struggle with this too, and that these thoughts won’t make us “bad moms.” Thank you. 🙂
I love the honesty here, even though I’m not a mum or won’t be for a few years. A beautiful post- thanks for being brave enough to share 🙂
Thank you for sharing this story! I really appreciate when women put it out there and are completely honest about their experiences. I can guarantee I will probably go through similar feelings when I become a mom and will probably be ashamed of how I feel, but will reflect back on this post and remind myself that it’s a natural feeling and shouldn’t judge myself for it. We place so many pressures on ourselves to play all these different roles–the wife, the sexy woman, the fitness enthusiast, the mom, the daughter, the sister, etc. It can be exhausting! Thank you again!
Thank you SO much for writing this post. Its as if you took the words out of my mouth, head and heart! I have a 4 month old and Im still juggling around being me- mommy-wife-teacher. Im def. doing much better but the anxiety and overwhelming feelings creep up. I had messaged you on Facebook about this when I first had my baby girl, and I thank you so much for responding!
Liv is absolutely precious and I admire and commend you!
You do look like you always have it “together”! lol I am sitting here with a greasy bun, bushy eyebrows, and the school tshirt and jeans that I wore to work. Its funny how we look at other moms and think they have it all under control and that they are super-mommy, when in actuality they feel the same way we do!
Gina- This was such an amazing post. Thank you.
Off topic, but I love those printed pants! Please share where you found these! Thanks!!
thank you! h&m
Wonderful post Gina – I can so relate. 🙂
This post popped up in the “You also might like” section after I read your recent Livi-isms.
Stumbling upon these words was seriously meant to be, and couldn’t have been timed better.
Thank you for your honest pep talk about motherhood. I SO needed this right now.
sending lots of love to you <3 email me if you ever want to vent/chat/real talk about anything! xoxo
That’s so sweet, thank you!