It’s Time to Reclaim Your Pre-Mom Identity — Your Individuality — Your Freedom
The relationship between a mother and her unborn child is unmatched to any other relationship. In this stage of life, a mother is solely responsible for the health and well-being of another human being. Before becoming pregnant, every woman understands her body will undertake a physical toll. But through this physical sacrifice, there is an unspoken subtle brainwashing that simultaneously occurs. Your thought process becomes so ingrained by the constant awareness of this ultimate responsibility, that it may cause irreversible psychological damage.
Unfortunately, while the pregnancy experience is finite, most women are changed forever.
The timing, intensity, and length of the pregnancy experience creates the perfect environment for a woman to begin to equate sacrifice with the definition of motherhood.
This mental shift began to grow inside your mind the same day you learned you became a mother. It is only natural to equate this totality of devotion you experienced in pregnancy to be the definition of motherhood. Your mind, body, and soul has gone through pregnancy boot camp, and that must mean that it was preparing you for your role as a mother.
And because of this subconscious definition of motherhood I constructed for myself, I never felt like I was ever ‘enough’. I had a constant cloud of guilt for not wanting to be the mother who fulfills their child’s every possible need.
While trying to live up to this impossible standard, I mourned the loss of loss of my life. My goals. My friends. My freedom. My identity.
Reaching all the levels of grief, I bounced around from denial to anger. Anxiety to depression. And back again. Never in a predictable linear fashion. And never reaching the final stage of acceptance.
Instead, I rejected being a mother in every way I knew how — consciously and subconsciously. I fought fiercely with, well… myself, to maintain my pre-mom identity. Nobody denied me this possibility. But I continued to greet motherhood each day as a burden. Coupled with a second dose of guilt and self-shame for even entertaining these negative feelings.
I spent years soldiering into battle to fight my identity war. The worst part of it all, is that I was so lost in the weeds, that I couldn’t describe to you my end-goal even if I tried. All that inner turmoil. Depression. Rage. Anxiety. All for nothing. All because, I was under the impression that this is how it had to be. Any pre-mom life you had is now gone.
This subconscious mantra etched slowly away my sense-of-self. I was too distracted to notice how or why I was slipping away. Because when you have a newborn baby, you are in survival mode. Trying to reclaim ‘who you are’ is a much lower priority. You are paralyzed by the crushing weight of the constantly changing environment.
It took a global pandemic and a national lockdown for me to turn off all the extra distractions of everyday life.
I finally had a minute to breathe. To think. And suddenly my silent, yet deafening, internal screams shined through with such simplistic clarity.
Turns out, I’m not dead inside — unlike I lead myself to believe. My constant internal alarm bells should have been my first clue. My independent, pre-mom self was always there. Demanding my attention. Waiting to be reclaimed. To be celebrated. But the pressures of the power I granted to the peddle-stool definition of motherhood had minimized me.
Those internal screams begged to be listened to. I was finally still enough to listen closely, I was able to parse out my own voice again.
I am not a bad mom. I am just measuring myself against the wrong standard
I was released from the prison of pregnancy, years ago. Yes, it was traumatizing, but in a subtle kind of way. Like any major life experience, it radicalized me into becoming a different person. There’s no denying it.
Pregnancy changes women.
But I do not need to carry that experience with me through the rest of my life. I can learn from it and move on.
I couldn’t fit into the mold of motherhood as I had defined it during my pregnancy. So perhaps it is because it is time, we redefine motherhood. Swinging the pendulum from one end of the spectrum to the other. Unlike you may have subconsciously led yourself to believe, motherhood does not need rooted in minimizing your own wants and needs in order to maximize your child’s livelihood.
Instead, motherhood is about providing your child with access to the tools they need to live a fulfilling life.
You provide guidance, mentorship, and wisdom. You provide a safe place to turn to when in need. You do not shield them from the troubles of life. A mother who sacrifices everything in the name of love, consequently caudles her child so much that they will be ill prepared for the world. You will have failed them as a parent.
The success and independence of my children is a measurement of success of my parenting. It is only natural to want to help your children as much as you can, but at the same time, everything they will ever learn, will be because of the tools and opportunities they were provided.
It’s a jarring experience to realize you have been devoting your mind, body, and soul all to the wrong person.
Those sacred items were never meant to be given away. And because of this, reclaiming who-you-are should never come with an undertone of ‘mom-guilt’. Instead it should be celebrated as a shared milestone.
After all, your child beams with pride on their own journey to self-discovery. Simple at first, with the ability to walk, talk, eat, climb. Then slowly creeping into the I-can-do-it-myself toddler stage. Until one day it becomes independent-thought and their own creation of their sense-of-self.
By reclaiming your identity — your individuality — your freedom — you have created a space for them to develop the same. It is your duty as a parent to give them this space to grow. For both your sakes.
Because your job isn’t to caudle — it’s to teach them to fly.
With this change in perspective, I am finally reborn, and I can breathe again.
Welcome back to the world mama. We missed you so.