I have a confession to make. Since having a baby, I feel like I’ve lost something important.
No, it’s not my appearance or my once flat tummy that I’m concerned about. It’s not even my sex life that I mean. In fact, it’s something way more important to me. It’s something that I used to wake up to every day, and something that after 36 years of life, I finally felt content knowing.
What I’ve lost, is my sense of identity.
I feel caught between feelings of success as a mother, but failure as an individual.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love my baby with every ounce of my being. However, between nappy changes, feedings, entertainment duties, housework, preparing dinners, trying to fit in a shower and feeding myself (and more!) I just seem to run out of time to be… well, to be ME.
Identity Crisis: I Miss 'Me'
Is it wrong that I miss ME? I miss the motivated ‘me’, full of goals and aspirations. I miss the creative ‘me’, constantly inspired to create by the beauty around me. I miss the sexy ‘me’, full of sexual energy and eagerness. I miss the confident ‘me’, wearing tightly fitted clothing and ready to take on the world.
I feel as though I’m walking a shaky tightrope of identity, and I just don’t know how to find my balance.
I’m having an identity crisis of sorts.
Wondering: Can I Have it All?
I find myself asking “Can I be ‘me’ again?” several times a day. Is it possible to find my balance among the new duties and responsibilities that come with motherhood?
I had my attempt at ‘having it all’. I tired, and it didn’t quite work. To not affect my time with my daughter, I would wait until she was asleep and work on my goals, exercise and time with husband all past midnight. Did I succeed? Well, yes and no. I was exhausted beyond belief, and I felt like rubbish and run to the ground. Having it all came at the sacrifice of my health, and it didn’t make me happier.
I realised that I can’t really do it all. Something had to give, and I didn’t want it to be my health.
Balance: What They Don't Teach You'
I sit here realising that I can’t be the same ‘me’ any more; not in entirety anyway. I want to be the best mother I can be, and that ultimately means sacrificing some of the things that I used to identify with being ‘me’.
I know that I’m not alone. I’m sure this feeling is felt by many mums and dads alike.
My husband keeps asking “But you KNEW what having a child meant, right?” Well yes, of course. I was ready for my child and I wanted my child more than anything. I went through 3 surgeries and a miscarriage to get here.
What I wasn’t prepared for though, was having to accept that maybe I couldn’t be the same ‘me’ for an indefinite period of time, and how to strike a balance to handle that. They don’t teach you that in prenatal classes. They don’t prepare you for the isolation that you might feel from YOURSELF.
So here I am asking you other mums and dads out there… How do I push past that niggling sadness inside when I miss those things that I just simply don’t have time to do any more? I feel caught between feelings of success as a mother, but failure as an individual.
Will this pass?
Eleni Fegan is the founder and Managing Editor of DearBub Blog and Magazine which began from a personal journey of research and healing. Her motivation for DearBub is beautifully summarised in her Editor’s Letter: “I realised that there is beauty to giving voice to our experiences, and raising an awareness that we are not alone in them. I realised the immense power that ‘sharing’ had in transforming our sense of self and being through creating connection”.