By: Cristina Trette
The story of a woman losing herself in mothering is so common. Perhaps the reason why it appears to be so hard for so many, is that we have not formalized this right of passage for women, and honored this transition for what it is.
Many women feel an exhilarating blend of fear and excitement containing hopes and dreams for what family life will entain. For some, the start of motherhood is blissful. There is something innocent and magical about the idea of a family beginning a life together.
Fast forward. The mother has a child or more. She lives in a world of diapers, nap schedules, and play dates. The stress of juggling work and parenting or the stress of being isolated as a stay at home mom takes its toll. The days of freedom, passion, and spontaneity seem to have ended.
Yes, we love our kids. Yes, we would not trade them for anything in the world. But does it have to be so overwhelming?
Perhaps the popular and collective understanding of how we are to journey through motherhood is misguided.
What is as we become mothers we are also being called to transformation and to remember who we really are. And for the ones who do this, if we were lost, we find ourselves again, and then we can help other mothers do the same.
If you can relate to losing yourself in motherhood, read on to explore some tiny steps you can take to help you return to who you really are.
1. Find a mentor
There are many. Find a woman who has quested through the world of caring for self and others. Seek out those who have discovered deep meaning, joy, and purpose while mothering. No matter what your calling is, we need mentors and guides to help us along the way. I have been blessed with many powerful female role models who have traversed building successful careers while mothering. I go to them for guidance regularly.
2. Don't try this alone
Mothering has endless requirements. We cannot do this alone. Seriously. For most modern moms, the village does not naturally exist, we have to create it. Some have spouses that share 50 percent of the load. Most don't. So where can you find help? Nannies, babysitters, teens in the neighborhood, family, friends, day care, school, and other parents are all available to help you. Ask for help.
3. Connect with your Self
Inside of all of us is a fully developed sense of self. This is our true essense. The part of us that is us. But can get so busy and so external that we can easily lose touch with who we really are. How can you carve out time to know and listen to yourself? We all have different ways of doing this. I connect with self through meditation, yoga, running, surfing, writing, and personal growth programs. Your Infinite Life Training and Coaching Company has many programs in various locations around the country that are focused on self connection. What can you do to connect with yourself?
4. What did you love to do as a kid?
What would you do for hours and hours when you were a child, just because it brought up intrinsic joy? What were your gifts and natural talents? Did you love to sell lemonade, play sports, dance, sing, write, create art? If you are not doing anything today that you loved to do when you were a kid, consider doing some of these activities now. When adults spend time engaging in activities that lifts their spirit whether this is guitar, rock climbing, improv, or volunteering, all sorts of positive shifts happen from the inside out.
5. Reconnect with your love life
If you are feeling overwhelmed and alone your spouse is probably feeling this way too. What are some ways for you to reconnect? Long walks on the beach, hold hands, swap massages, embarking on novel activities together, or workout together. There are endless ways you can enhance your connection. If you have babies and kids at home, see point 3, and get help so you and your spouse can have time together.
If you are single, and not dating, perhaps it is time to explore this aspect of yourself again. The part of us that enjoys flirting, sensuality, sexuality, is just as important as every other part of us.
6. Where your ladies at?
Find your tribe and love them. Spend time with women who are encouraging, supportive and will be there for you. Consider letting go of friendships that seem to center on gossip, cattiness, and superficiality.
7. Feel and cry
Many of us grew up thinking feelings were bad and something to ignore or numb. All feelings come and go as part of being alive. The key is to learn how to notice and feel our feelings, including anger, fear, sadness, and hurt. On the days that you want to cry, let yourself cry. Consider going to a friend or your spouse on the hard days.
8. It is OK
It is ok to have a messy house, serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner, miss your workout, snap at your kids (and then repair), zone out, don't have pre-baby body, and struggle to balance it all all. Being a modern mom is not easy. It is sometimes wild, sometimes chaotic, sometimes blissful, and sometimes peaceful. All of this is all normal. Perfect does not exist. But if it has become far too overwhelming, far too messy, or you are far too tired, reach out to someone. I offer private sessions and would love to work with you. If we are not best fit, I can refer you.
9. Where do you want to go
If you are not happy with the status quo, start visualizing, writing down, and getting clear about what you want. Maybe you want to go back to work, maybe you want to quit your job, maybe you are ready to commit to an exercise and yoga plan. Although growth will not be linear, because it never is, having a clear vision as to what you want is often the first step toward creating change. Keep in mind that once you get what you want, there will be new places to go to, and this is part of what makes life worth living.
Have you lost and found yourself through the demands of motherhood? If yes, I would love to hear about how you did this in the comments box below!
Hello! I am Cristina Trette. I am a Couples Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified in Perinatal Mental Health. I write on all things related to relationships, parenthood, and connection.