Where’s the Manual?
“You shouldn’t lose your identity to motherhood. Before you became a mommy, you were a person and that person is still important.” THEY tell you not to lose yourself, but THEY never tell you how to preserve your identity. How in the name of all things holy are we supposed to maintain our pre-parent identity while simultaneously caring for with an all consuming infant?
What about when they’re toddlers? How are we supposed to maintain our identities when we spend our days trying to prevent a mini kamikaze from killing himself. If you’re an at home parent, you’ve likely become the maid too. Never mind the fact that you may have the same degree or higher as your partner, you’ve been relegated to the drudgery of housework. I hate cooking and doing the dishes, but found myself swallowed by the kitchen, a slave to my small humans. If you’re a career parent, you probably find yourself doing the bare minimum both at work and at home. I know I did.
What about the school age, latency phase? How am I supposed to maintain my identity then? I’m pulled in a zillion directions to match the extracurriculars my children are involved in. Someone always needs a chaperone and snacks are essential. Why do these kids need endless snacks as though they have no other nourishment?!? Any free time I have as a SAHM or career mom is sucked up by baking for, traveling to, and watching sporting events, plays, dance performances, etc. And I wouldn’t do things differently. I’m collapsing into bed after putting in 16 hour days. How can I maintain my identity? I don’t even recognize myself anymore.
What about the teen years? Kids don’t even want parents around, so it should be easy to reclaim our identity now, right? Not so fast! Teens need supervision like you wouldn’t believe. Drinking, self-harm, bullying, and sexual activity all need an involved parent to help with difficult situations.
I’m 23 years into parenting and reclaiming my identity. I still have a teen at home. It was a mistake to give up my identity to be a SAHM, but I had no guidance on how to maintain it. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t volunteer for all of my kids’ activities and instead focus on balancing my interests with theirs. Mommy guilt consumed me. I don’t want it to consume you.