A hot topic that I often see in articles and also find myself discussing with other moms revolves around the preservation of our self-identify as mothers. Self-identity is a word that carries a lot of weight. What exactly is self-identity? According to the dictionary, it is the recognition of one’s potential and qualities as an individual, especially in relation to social context. This often becomes complicated once motherhood enters a woman’s realm, because we now have this amazing new title attached to us…we are mothers. With that comes an evolved self-identity.
I never realized how easy it was to focus on myself during my years as a young adult. At the time I always thought I was busy. Reality was, I was busy…but in a drastically different way than I am now that I am a mother to two rambunctious boys. Early mornings used to start with a leisurely cup of coffee, a commute to work where I’d listen to the daily radio talk, and after work I would come home to cook a dinner and watch trash television. I would also squeeze in a work out and usually take my Labrador to the dog park or on a walk. There was a lot of time to do whatever I wanted, when I wanted. That was me three years ago. My self-identity has changed tremendously now that I have two little boys calling me “mama.”
Today I googled “what to do when a toddler eats play dough.” I frantically debated on calling poison control until my anxiety eased once I saw the words “nontoxic” on a full article that covered children eating play dough and when to be concerned. The words “just be sure they do not eat the entire container” is when I started laughing hysterically. I fell to the ground and literally giggled until a few tears streamed down my face. I thought to myself, this is what it has come to…I am researching what to do when my child tries a taste of Rose Red Play-doh. I have gone from leisure Starbucks runs and Bikini Body work outs to googling peculiar questions in regard to my children’s well-being. Who am I and where did old me go? Is this a normal feeling? Short answer, absolutely.
I firmly believe a human’s self-identity is endlessly evolving, depending on the season of life that a person is in. The “old me” didn’t disappear the day I became a mother. I just have different priorities at the top of my list during this season of life, in comparison to who I was three years ago. My qualities as an individual are a little different now that my priorities have changed. I am focused on raising wholesome human beings, but it is just as important to continue to preserve those qualities that make me who I am outside of motherhood. This might include gym memberships with childcare so that I can continue to work out. Some evenings I can let my husband take over dinnertime so that I can take our dog to the dog park. I can continue to pour into myself because it is crucial to keep my cup full in order to pour into my children’s cups as well.
This ever-fleeting season is something I know I will long for one day. Every mom in the history of moms tells me that raising children happens in the blink of an eye. I believe them, because the first two years of my boys’ lives have already flown right past me. My self-identity remains grounded in my qualities and core beliefs; however, I identify as “mama” before everything else right now. When the day comes again that I can watch trash television at my leisure and squeeze in a workout when I feel like it, I know I will miss the chaos of raising children. I am blessed to be able to research play dough and whether or not it is toxic. It is a privilege to identify as “mama.” My self-identity is still there, it has just changed for the better and has only become richer.
Keep calm and mom on.