Identity loss is something almost every first-time mom goes through. Some have it easy, some have it worse.
Sleep deprivation, feelings of ineptitude, guilt trapping yourself, mood swings, leaky boobs- all of these seem to have a limited shelf life.But Identity crisis has a lifespan of its own.
For me, it lasted 1.5 years into motherhood. When I was pregnant, my mom continuously told me to be prepared – that life wouldn’t be the same. I nodded dismissively, reminding myself that she was from an older generation and that nothing would be lost and the only change would be that I would have a tiny, beautiful baby soon. Well, never doubt the wisdom of a mother!
With my son’s grand entrance (How? That’s another story) my world flipped overnight. I did a lot of preparation-mental and otherwise – but everything seemed so less. To say that I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. To say that I still continue to be overwhelmed on a daily basis would be truer than truth.
For some women- loneliness, exhaustion, raging hormones, self doubt, being self critical, sleep deprivation, cluster feeding, mood swings, body aches, hair loss, weight gain, loss of sexual drive, uncontrollable food cravings- are all small inconveniences that they won’t notice with a tiny baby in hand. For others, these are insurmountable challenges that need to be battled daily.
I missed my friends. I missed exercise. I missed eating on time. I missed being presentable all the time. I missed looking beautiful. I missed sleep. I missed going out. I missed my hobbies. I missed writing. I missed reading poems. I missed the sunrise. I missed being free. I missed everything a lot.
I forgot what it felt to be alone with your own thoughts because even when my husband took care of the baby to give me my own time, all I could think of was how to make things better for my son.
The first few months of me being a mom passed in a blur. Yet every minute seemed so long. The days are long but the years are short.
But soon as I got accustomed to being a mom and fell into a routine with a lot of love and support from my spouse, I began searching for my former self. I began with my hobbies- I read, I painted. I lost weight. I ate healthy, (well, healthier than before) I changed my entire wardrobe. I was still sleep deprived but now I was happier.
One midnight, as I pondered and rated myself as a mother, I realised I haven’t lost my identity. Instead, I had gained a new one. One where I am more patient and generous,with a new perspective and understanding of life. I see the big picture. I forgive people easily now. I began to appreciate the littlest of the little things even more- a quiet cup of tea, an uninterrupted chat with a friend, a slow meal and a full shower are all simple pleasures.
I realised that while I may be many things other than a mom, my son is, as of now, just my son-he has no other identity. He needs me and my undivided attention. Now I knew firsthand the intricate pain of parenthood, the beauty of loving a completely dependent being with all one’s strength. He’s my responsibility and it’s gonna remain that way for a long time now.
I have made new mommy friends,learnt three new skills, started reading motivational books. I now have an idea for a novel and a business. And all this is baby inclusive.
Motherhood is beautiful. It isn’t easy though. A new role. A new challenge. A new identity. And no matter what people say, it takes time. It took one and a half years for me. Could be more for you, could be less too.
Being a mother has changed me greatly. I have made choices for my future solely because I am a mother now.
And then, as I lay there, realisation hit me like a bolt of lightning. My mom had gone through all these “challenges” and much, much more for me and my four siblings as well. When she asked me to be prepared she wasn’t being someone from an older generation, she was just being an experienced, successful mom. I realised how much my mom poured herself out for us. As mothers, women become extremely selfless.
The tears, pain, sacrifices, heartache and work parents go through all their lives is unbelievable. The fact that I had only seen the infant and the toddler phase hit me hard. I still had to nurture a toddler, a preschooler, an adolescent, a young teen and a teenager. So then, I stopped rating myself (because it was too early) and instead gave a full 10 on 10 and more, to my parents and made a mental note to tell my mom I love her even more than ever.
To all the mommies out there- thank you! May we honour your sacrifices in all the ways we grow and may we always become your reason to smile!