As we grow up, it is easy to lose sight of who we are at our core. It can even seem impossible to reclaim your identity once you have a family and bills to pay. But it’s not. If I can do it, you can too. Hopefully it doesn’t take a major life change to push you like it did me.
Journey From Breadwinner to Homemaker
I used to define myself as three things; a wife, a mom, and the breadwinner. My husband had been the primary caregiver for most of our sons’ lives, but when we chose to relocate, we knew I needed to change jobs. Honestly, I never thought about just up and quitting without another senior accountant position waiting for me. But when no jobs appeared, we knew we needed a plan B.
So, what was it? After a lot of late-night discussions, we decided it was time for me to come home and my husband to return to the workforce. Our decision was based on my growing desire to work in marketing and our need for a more flexible career that could travel with us across state lines. It simply made sense for me to take a chance now while we had family close by in case it didn’t pan out.
Leaving My Identity Behind
The day I left my corporate job as a senior accountant, I was scared. Scared about money, scared about the future, but most of all, scared about my identity. If I no longer made the money that supported my family, who was I?
What did I do to stop being so afraid? I did what I knew to do, I threw myself into everything a mom was “supposed” to do and still worked hard to build my business as quickly as possible.
What was the end result? I was stretched to the brim and lost. I felt guilty for not working on the business when I spent time with my kids or worked on the house. But I also felt guilty about not entertaining my sons every second of the day when I worked on my business. It was a vicious cycle. Slowly, I was forgetting who I was and only the “jobs” I had to accomplish.
I Wasn’t Alone
Looking back, I have struggled with this idea of my identity being tied to something outside of myself for a long time. My identity as a wife, my identity as a mother and my identity as my career. And I’m not alone. Mothers are particularly prone to the idea of what they do defining who they are. When women become moms, they are tied to the wellbeing of another human being all of a sudden. That is where the “primary maternal preoccupation” mindset comes in. New moms (and seasoned moms) become so preoccupied with their child(ren) that they forget about things tied to just their wellbeing.
You can read countless articles and even scholarly studies about the topic of identity in motherhood. It’s no surprise that we can see how we lose parts of who we are in our pursuit to be the mom we want to be. We as women claim that nothing will change after becoming a mom, but that is certainly the exception, not the rule. Not all women stay home or breastfeed or homeschool, but all of us give up a part of ourselves when we take on the role of mom. But do we have to? Can you reclaim your identity?
My Process of Rediscovery
This is how I went from breadwinner to homemaker. And how I not only didn’t lose myself but rediscovered and reclaimed my identity in the process. You can reclaim your identity too! Read on my friend!
#1 I learned that I wasn’t perfect, and NO ONE expected me to be.
Motherhood, marriage, business, (heck) LIFE, is messy, imperfect, and a ton of fun. Once I realized I could make mistakes and not completely mess up my kids, it was a GAME CHANGER. This is true for you. Give yourself some grace and try to enjoy the gift that God has entrusted you with (if you’re not sure what I mean… YOUR KIDS). <<<Being funny there 🙂
#2 I learned I could take back something that I loved (and not be selfish).
Personally, I (re)discovered the joy of writing. Something that I use to do every day as a kid and teen was write. From poems and songs to full screenplays. I loved crafting words and bringing them to life on a page. Side note, by writing I mean actual pen and paper. None of this digital stuff. It was the 90’s after all.
What is something that you enjoy but keep letting “have to’s” come first? After all, that’s what a “good mom” does, right? NO! A good mom knows that they have to be somewhat happy to fully show up for their families. It’s like the instructions given to airplane passengers. You have to make sure you take care of yourself inorder to take care of anyone else. Same goes for motherhood (or fatherhood).
#3 I realized my kids needed me to be me, not just their mom
My boys are amazing. They are smart, loving, creative, and honest. They were very honest with me about the fact that they liked it when I did stuff I loved to do, not just tried to hang out with them all of the time. I took this to mean that they loved me, but they liked their time and wanted me to have my time too. As your kids age, it’s a really good thing for them to have their own space, which lets you off the hook sometimes when you need to get an order done or you just want time to yourself or with your spouse.
#4 I finally understood that being my boy’s mom or being my husband’s wife wasn’t my only identity
Do you ever define yourself as “Johnny’s mom” or “Dan’s Wife”? I’m sure we all do from time to time, but the important thing is we understand that it is merely a small part of our large, complicated, messy identity. I’m a mom, a wife, a sister, a friend, a writer and an artist. But I’m also more.
How are you defining yourself? Are you looking at who you were in high school for an identity? What about in college? What about in elementary school? These times will give you a hint at what you are passionate about, but that’s not the only part of your identity either. We are so complex and beautifully complicated. Remember, you can reclaim your identity because it’s yours. So what’s stopping you? Start your journey to reclaim your identity now, not “when you have time.” Make time.