By: Nicki Reid, Bilingual BA
Who Am I? - Mama, have you ever asked yourself this question at any point along your motherhood journey? I have asked myself this question many times throughout mine. Whether it was when I found myself inspecting diapers for their content to determine whether or not my little ones were getting enough breastmilk, or their bowel movements were a healthy color and texture, or on those days when I felt so exhausted or disconnected from myself and would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Coming to terms with my newfound identity has been one of the most challenging aspects and biggest shifts that I have experienced postpartum. I’m writing about it because not only have I lived through it, but based on discussions with other mamas and posts I have read in mom groups; I am not alone.
Here are some tips to help you navigate this new milestone.
Before you are a mama, you are YOU; an individual who is WHOLE with their own dreams, desires, needs, and more. Give yourself permission to embrace that you are a multi-dimensional being. Your identity as an individual and as a mother can co-exist. Some people struggle with understanding that mothers can have identities outside of being a mother and judge moms harshly for it. Do not allow anyone to shame you for owning this.
Accept that you have your own desires and needs as a person. To the best of your ability, take care of those needs. It is easier to show up as a mother and be the best one you can be when you are fulfilled.
Get curious about who you are in this new season of life. What used to bring you joy in one season of life, may not in your current life and that’s okay; because growth is a normal and healthy part of life. If your previous hobbies, dreams, desires, etc. are no longer in alignment, create some space to rediscover what they are. Be open to new possibilities and be gracious with yourself.
Stop comparing your motherhood journey. The mother you are is the mother your family needs you to be. Read that as many times as you need to until it sinks in.
Accept your reality. The truth of the situation is, no part of you or your life is the same, not your mind, body, spirit, etc. When you stop holding onto a version of you that no longer exists, you open yourself up to accepting the new version of you that does. Denying the present while trying to relive the past is a guaranteed way to remain stuck and unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with recalling a fond memory; but to paraphrase one of my favourite motivational speakers, Willie Jolley: “The past is a place of reference, not residence”. The sooner you come to terms with this, the easier it will be to accept your new identity.
Community. Being in community with other mothers who have similar lifestyles as you is helpful because they are also deep in the trenches of motherhood. They will have a better understanding of your experiences and can be a great source of comradery and support.
In closing, after embarking on this path of being a mom, it took me some time to realize that I needed to rediscover who I was as an individual and explore who I was as a mother. I had moved forward with my life without ever really taking the time to commemorate this milestone. I was brand new to this journey and it didn’t come with any instruction manuals. I did the best that I could with what I had; but once I learned differently, I did differently. I discovered that I needed to forgive myself, be more compassionate, graceful, and patient with myself as I adjusted to this new phase of my life.
So mama, I invite you to do the same - allow yourself to BE. Be OKAY with where you are and who you are. Give yourself permission to slow down and savor this experience. I am still journeying along this beautiful path and allowing myself to engage in these actions has left me with a stronger sense of self, joy, and fullness (amongst other things). Be kind to yourself and enjoy your journey; it is still unfolding.
Take the deepest care of yourself and stay well, mamas.
For maternal health information, resources, and support, please visit Mommy Monitor.
Nicki Reid, Bilingual BA
Certified Transformational Coach | Wholesome Mind Health Coaching