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Mama, is it time to rediscover yourself? If you’re having trouble remembering the vibrant woman you were before you became a mom, read on for a step-by-step process you can use to rediscover yourself after motherhood.
“So, Anissa…what have you been up to?”
All eyes at the table were on me as I froze. My face felt hot. I didn’t know what to say. Sure, I could think of a million responses to the question.
- Cleaning shit off of a baby’s back a few times a day.
- Reading every book the public library has about how to get your child to sleep through the night.
- Sitting with my boob in my kid’s mouth while watching reruns of Criminal Minds.
I mumbled something about the baby taking up a lot of energy and changed the subject.
When I got home from this dinner party with childless friends, I sobbed. I sobbed because I wanted my old conversations back–the ones where I talked about novels I’d read, musical performances I was preparing for, and interesting places I’d traveled. I sobbed because I believed the lie that my old self was gone for good.
Do you believe that lie, too, Mama?
Have you forgotten who you are in all of the noise of motherhood and family life? Did you erase all of those words that you used to use to describe yourself, your talents, and your interests?
You’re not alone.
I see you Mama, and I’m here to tell you that lie is bullshit. I know that there is a sparkling diamond of a woman still inside you. She was there long before you became mama-with-a-capital-M.
I’m calling on you now to rediscover her.
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The Problem with the Job of Mom
Let’s talk about this mom gig for a second.
For most of us, the job of mom completely takes over, leaving little time or energy for anything else. Moms, whether they stay at home, work at home, or work outside the home have a seemingly endless list of responsibilities. Keeping tiny humans alive and providing for them is a lot of work.
As mothers, we pride ourselves on all the work that we do and the sacrifices that we make for our families. We compare ‘war stories’ with other moms. At times, we almost seem to be competing to win the title of “Most Miserable”. We give everything we have without adding in a single thing that makes us happy, and we wonder why we aren’t the fun mom.
We read articles about how to “yell less”. Maybe we search the web to look up articles on “mom motivation” or “staying sane as a SAHM”.
Life feels unfulfilling–not just because it’s busy, messy, and hard. It feels unfulfilling because we’ve forgotten who we are.
But how do we fix the situation?
How to Rediscover Yourself
The process of rediscovering yourself, like many things, is pretty simple, but it isn’t easy. Today, I’ve broken it down into three steps:
- shifting your perspective
- reflecting on the woman you used to be
- setting time aside every day for yourself
Step One: Shift Your Perspective
Rediscovering who you are is incredibly important.
It would be worth it just for the happiness and fulfillment it provided you. (Here’s where I remind you that you deserve to be happy and to lead an enjoyable, fulfilling life.) If you’re like most of us moms, though, you’ve stopped thinking about yourself at all. If you do take a second to do something for yourself, you feel guilty about it.
So, I want you to think instead about those tiny people that you are raising. They are watching you every day to learn how to be grown ups.
What do you want to teach your children?
- Do you want to teach your children that life is joyless? That earning money or keeping the house clean should be their ultimate goals as adults?
- Do you hope your sons grow up to marry women who are joyless caregivers?
- Should your daughters grow up to be mothers who have abandoned every little bit of fire inside of them?
Tough love time: If you’re not actively cultivating your passions, that’s exactly what you’re inadvertently teaching them. As Julia Cameron said in The Artist’s Way for Parents,
…we are making a dangerous decision indeed. Not only are we putting ourselves at risk of becoming resentful, we are modeling this behavior for our children.” By not taking time for yourself, you are denying your own importance and teaching your children a lack of self-worth. If you want to raise empowered children, show them through the example of caring for yourself first. If we are empty, we have less to give others. In order to fill the cup of another, we must first fill our own.
This advice is so important, and yet so often, the recommendations given for ways to “fill your cup” are trivial: grab a latte, take a bubble bath, or go for a walk.
Sure, it’s important to fill your life with little luxuries that you enjoy. They’re the kinds of things I include on my “60 Ways to Turn Around a Bad Day” list.
Rediscovering yourself, though, involves digging much deeper. It involves remembering not just the little things that make you feel good, but the big passions that light your fire.