“Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” is what I often contemplate when I look in the mirror these days in the midst of a mum identity crisis. Where is she? The old me, the fun me, the less shouty me. The less frowny me.
We’ve been under immense pressure these past few months. I’ve had to dig really deep to cherish every moment because this is what I’d always wanted. Wasn’t it? For my family to be together, 24/7. I didn’t quite imagine we would be quite as together as we have been and I certainly didn’t imagine a global pandemic would be the cause. Yet as we begin to come out the other side, here I am, a little greyer, a lot hairier in places I never imagined and exhausted with anxiety and general life.
I am positive and confident that, in time, I will rise stronger, wiser and once again smile the sort of smile that is the preferred kind of contagious.
But long before Coronavirus, I realised I was in the midst of a mum identity crisis.
What do I do anyway?
A couple of years ago I was in the school playground, my then 4 year old, out of the blue, asked me what I did for work. “Erm, you’re my work…” I replied. I was a full-time domestic goddess. I was proud to be a dedicated, all in it 100% super mum.
I prided myself on creating the perfect family home. The fun mum, the cool mum, the one that provided planned- to-the-nth-degree full-time entertainment. The mum who makes tasty homemade awesome yet wholesome, healthy snacks on demand. So why did he seem disappointed? I could feel it. I genuinely felt like I’d let him down.
I used to be somebody
If only he knew – I thought. I used to be somebody. I used to walk down red carpets with the soap stars. I rubbed shoulders with film stars and owned shoes that were more expensive than our weekly shop. I’ve traveled the world and worked on numerous well known TV shows.
Why? I chose to be a mum and I planned this chapter of my life with military precision. I’d worked in TV Production for over 17 years. Planning budgets, schedules, working with an eclectic mix of people. I chose not to do both. I admire the women who can do both but it carries too much of a health risk for my anxiety levels.
Longing for the old me
I’ve accepted it. It’s liberating. One of the greatest things I’ve learned to do is to say NO to things. I cope better by living mindfully every day. I appreciate my life and am grateful for everything in it. But despite all this, I will admit there are times I want to cry because I want the old me back.
The last time I went into work before my maternity leave, I took a mindful moment. I stood on the overcrowded train platform and told myself I would never miss boarding a hot, sweaty, cattle train. I wouldn’t miss the manic journey into central London every day, not knowing if you’d get home pre 9pm because of engineering works.
I told myself to remember that moment and not pine for it because it wasn’t fun. Sometimes when I think I miss the old me, I take myself back to that moment and I find it very grounding.
I left work 3 months before my due date because I knew I needed to grieve for the old me and welcome me as a mother. I valued that time. Transition time.
I do miss the freedom to go where I want when I want to go and go there by myself.
I want to eat without having to share it and explain a thousand times why I’m eating it.
I want to poop without a viewing audience. I want my dignity back.
I want to be able to have a conversation with another person for more than 30 seconds without being interrupted or harassed for a snack. Things I perhaps took for granted. The little things.
Being in the now
I KNOW time passes in a flash and before I know it, I’ll be picking my boys up from the local police station at 2am because they got into the wrong group at school and were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I know before long I will be sobbing into my hankie waving them goodbye as they travel off to their preferred university on Mars. Time. Cherish every moment even when those moments feel really boring and frustrating because before you know it, we will be alone. Best not to dwell.
As a parent, there’s so much to worry about. So much to think about. All the time. Making decisions that affect someone else’s future. A person that I grew and am responsible for. Forever. Doing all of this with the human I chose as my partner for life. Mind-blowing really.
She’s still there
When it comes to my mum identity crisis, I know deep down that I haven’t gone anywhere but just need to rediscover my sense of self. I just have a couple of other little people to consider along the way and adjusted my persona to fit accordingly. Because the old me was sometimes a little inappropriate albeit in a cheeky way but I’ve had to PG my character and that’s no bad thing.
I look back on my life pre-kids and am proud of me. It was extraordinary in fact. But I’ve come to realise that you don’t always have to be extraordinary. Being ordinary is perfectly wonderful.
Do you often feel like you’re having a mum identity crisis? Do you miss life before kids? Feel free to leave a comment below and share how you feel.
Katie P is Mum to two delightful little boys aged 6 and 3. She’s had her fair share of life challenges that’s for sure. Probably why she feels qualified to offer little nuggets of helpfulness. In fact, she self-published a book on the subject of her crippling anxiety and the struggles she faces. You can find her story here.
It can be hard being home with the kids all day, every day, especially during this time when nothing is normal. I think it’s normal to miss the old-pre-kid self sometimes.
Oh yeah, it’s tough. As my kids get older, I am starting to get my identity back and remembering that I matter too!
This was a great read. I think moms and dads both go through this. I know I changed a lot when I became a dad. Most of it was good, but I did find myself wondering where the old me had gone.
I will have to pass this onto some Mum friends – as I am sure they will really resonate with this post.
I think it’s pretty normal to miss life because of kids.
I feel for all the moms you guys do so much. You put your life on hold for the benefit of the family.
I also gave it all up to be with the kids and at first there was some pull to go back but now I realize what a blessing I have to be able to do it. Once they are grown there will be lots of time to go back to work but for now I will try to keep a little bit of the old me alive <3
So many young mothers really don’t know how instant your life changes with kids. It is great to make sure you are ready for it.
I admire you, you are doing a noble thing. Hopefully they will appreciate it when they are older.
Yes all women’s life changes when they become mothers, it is hard, but the at same the happiness we get from being mom nothing can give us.
I understand what are you talking about. But things changes and very often get better even if we are not aware of it!
i totally get this. i became a mom at 18. i don’t know what adult life is like without a child, not that i would change it for the world but i don’t know what it was liike.