It's easy as a Mum to lose who we are and our identity once our babies are born. We shift our thinking immediately, from 'me', to 'them'.
Most of us relish motherhood and have absolutely no regrets about giving up our life and devoting ourselves and our time to our children. I know personally, I have my children to thank for making me so much more than my former self.
Yes, the choice of giving up a career comes with financial sacrifices, but for many Mum's being there for all the special moments, far outweighs any extra pay cheque. So, if it means making sacrifices and going without at times or giving up certain things, that's what they do.
For other Mum's, a forging career, status, intellectual stimulation and social interaction is important and a priority for them as it fulfils them, making them a better Mum. They like to have their own thing going on and they are not prepared to give that part of their life up, nor should they be made to feel that they have to. For others, they work day in and day out, year after year solely to pay the bills because they have no other option.
Whether you are a career woman, a stay-at-home Mum or a Mum who works because you simply do what you have to do to get by is irrelevant. We are each special and unique in our own way, we all do a lot and we all fit a lot into our world. We all share the mutual experience of giving birth to our children and raising them the best way we know how and we all share the same bond of always wanting the best for our children - that maternal protectiveness is innate in all of us. There is no right or wrong, each one of us juggles our responsibilities and tasks and do what we have to do to make it work while facing our own personal issues. I don't understand why Mum's judge and turn on one another arguing whether stay at home or working Mum's are better than the other when they do not know the circumstances—maybe it's out of jealousy? No one has the right to criticize or demean, so keep doing what you're doing if it feels right and works for your circumstances.
There are many Mum's who get totally wrapped up in Motherhood, forgetting about everything else around them, including themselves and in doing so they lose their own identity in the process. Somewhere, somehow, they just completely lose sight of who they are because they become utterly selfless and give all that they have to their children.
We constantly put their health, needs, and safety before our own. We give up a great deal for the sake of our children (time, sleep, pleasures and career). It’s instinct, and it comes effortlessly, as they are the most important and precious people in our world. We get so caught up in thinking that if we do not give all that we have, we are not a good mum (the guilt cloud loves lingering around mothers)—so every moment is totally devoted to our children.
You must realise that by giving absolutely everything you have to your children can lead to fatigue and exhaustion, and total burnout. When you give so much of yourself away, you end up having nothing left to give. And quite frankly, you can't give what you don't have. A car cannot run on empty and neither can you!
For some mums, it is essential to be titled with the “yummy mummy” tag—fitting into the skinny jeans immediately after giving birth; striving to look beautiful without a flaw; having the latest pram, designer handbag, and sunglasses; and always appearing to have the tip-top life.
Sure, you can have all of this, no problem, but if you are feeling depressed and dying on the inside, becoming depleted and losing yourself each day because of this self-inflicted illusion, you need to ask yourself why you’re doing it. If it's because you are doing it for you and that's just who you are and it gives you a great amount of personal satisfaction, than keep doing it, but if you are doing it for others to show them how perfect and together you are, than that will eventually wear you out. In hindsight, once you become worn-out, you will soon realise that this picture-perfect illusion does not really exist.
It's imperative that you take care of your health and own needs, so that you are the healthiest and best version of yourself that you can be. You must ensure that you look for a balance, so that you can be a positive role model for your children. It’s important to show them that as much as you are fulfilled and love the role of being their mum, nurturer, and protector—and wouldn't change it in an instant—they must also be able to witness you looking after yourself.
It’s not healthy for them to see their mum constantly frazzled and worn-out, neglecting her own needs, health, and well-being. There’s a reason flight attendants tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first. It is not a selfish act; it’s simply that you need to look after yourself first before you can look after anyone else.
You really must take steps to regain your own identity and make time to rediscover some of the interests and passions you once had that fulfilled you, so that you can get that fire back in your belly, that zest for life. My belief is that if we are happy and healthy, both physically and emotionally, we will be in a much better position to handle motherhood and the pressures that come with it, and everyone will benefit.
Having the title of mum is no doubt our proudest and biggest honour—certainly the best and most fulfilling job ever. Yet it’s possibly the hardest thing we will ever do, and we must not become lost in identifying ourselves solely by this title, as it will only drown out our authenticity. We can be a mum, and we can be a wife. Our family will always be our main priority, greatest gift, and most important accomplishment, but we must not lose who we are in the process. We can be all those things, but we can also be who we truly are too.
My question now to you is: do you know who you are, or do you define yourself solely as someone's spouse or mother? You are this, but you are also so much more!
One day your children will fly from the nest, so spread your wings now and teach them how to fly by watching you. You will always be a mother to your children, but let yourself expand so they can see you outside of your title.