This article which I wrote a few years ago appeared in several publications:
Rediscovering Yourself in the Midst of Motherhood
By Yvonne Lefort, M.A.
Have you ever found yourself wondering, “Who am I apart from being a mother?” About a year ago, after three years of being a “stay-at-home” mom, I found myself contemplating this question. This was in contrast to the first two years of my son’s life, which I compare to the “honeymoon stage” of a marriage. During this time, I was totally wrapped up in my little boy’s life. I planned all of my activities around his life, enjoying “mommy and me” classes, play dates, and get-togethers with other mothers where we would talk almost exclusively about our children. My son’s life and my life were one, and I was happy.
Slowly, a transition began to occur where I yearned to find meaning outside of motherhood. I was feeling stressed from trying to meet the constant needs and demands of a small child, and was sometimes bored with the daily routine of child-rearing. I wanted my own separate identity and more of a sense of balance in my life. I also needed to find ways to renew myself and replenish my energy.
Being in transition is never easy, and sometimes one can feel stuck. I knew that I needed to make some changes, but didn’t know exactly what they should be. How could I construct a more balanced life, one that would allow me to be a mother and pursue my own personal interests and goals? Part of the problem was that I wasn’t sure anymore what my own personal interests and goals were! I realized that I had to take the time to do some soul searching and identify what was important to me.
If you are feeling this way, here are some steps you can take:
- Find a friend who you can trust, a therapist or mother’s support group to share your feelings. Talking about your frustrations with other mothers is helpful, and you will find that you are not alone.
- Spend some time asking yourself the following questions: What do I need right now in my life? What would nurture me? What matters most to me? What gives me a feeling of self-confidence?
- Brainstorm ideas of what you could do. For example, if you need to connect more with adults (not necessarily mothers), you could organize a morning coffee with your neighbors and get to know them better, or join a book club. If you want to be more involved in your community, you could become a volunteer – find out about a myriad of opportunities by contacting the Volunteer Center of Contra Costa County. If you need more time for yourself, hire a babysitter, join a baby-sitting co-op, or use a local Tot Drop for a few hours a week. If you need more fun or intellectual stimulation in your life, sign up for a class. Browse through catalogs from your local community centers or adult education programs, and see what grabs your attention. If you need to reduce your stress, take a yoga class or arrange for a massage now and then. Pamper yourself – you deserve it! Being a mother is hard work!
- Take action. Stop thinking about what you could do, and JUST DO IT! The minute you start doing something, you’ll begin to feel better about yourself. And the happier you are, the better mother you’ll be. By replenishing yourself first, you’ll have more to give to your children.
A year later, after having made several changes, I now feel more like a whole person. I enjoy being a mother and am also finding personal fulfillment in other areas of my life.