When my daughter was first delivered into my arms, I was overwhelmed with joy and a feeling of satisfaction. I’d finally become a mom. I had vowed to be the best mother I could be for my baby girl (and baby boy two years later). That I wouldn’t make the same mistakes my own mother had made when I was growing up.
And I was, for a time, fully devoted to that prospect. I’d direct all my free time toward my kids, helping them with anything they needed and answering every cry for help, every “Mamma,” every tug on my jeans. I’d take the time to listen to them at every waking moment, no matter how many times they’d repeat the same thing.
Basically, I lived my entire life for them.
Sounds like the ideal mom mentality, right? Well, it may be for some. Some people enjoy devoting their entire lives to helping their kids reach their highest potential, but this comes at the expense of their own dreams and aspirations.
Again, it may be someone’s dream to just be a caretaker, but for many other moms (myself included), that wasn’t the only thing that I wanted to do. I still wanted to write, to paint, and to create content others can enjoy – where I could express myself and have that creation inspire others or help them in some way, even if it was just a sliver of extra positivity. I aspired to help make the world a better place through art, which later developed into something wholly different, yet with a similar purpose: a teaching career.
But, I neglected that passion for these first three years of motherhood without even realizing that I did it.
Being new to the whole mothering thing at the start, I decided to pause my career so I could better focus on my daughter. I became a stay-at-home mom because I couldn’t trust others to take care of her for me. It was okay, at first. I’d find joy in simply being there for my kids. Seeing their smiles shine brightly got me through the day, knowing that they were healthy and happy. But, as time went on and as my second child came into the world, I steadily started to become more and more miserable, and I could never put my finger on it. I knew my kids weren’t to blame – they weren’t doing anything wrong to me. I just couldn’t quite get to the bottom of it by myself.
It wasn’t until my husband noticed and sat down with me to talk about it that I realized what the root of the problem was: I had lost sight of myself. I was in the middle of a so-called maternal identity crisis. While what I was doing wasn’t necessarily wrong or borderline obsessive/possessive, it was starting to wear me thin. All of my interests and passions started melting away to make room for playing with my kids and entertaining them in any way possible.
I figured it was necessary to be like that at all times and I simply didn’t have time to do what I enjoyed prior, but in retrospect, it was all a self-imposed restriction.
The thing is, I wasn’t just neglecting the things I used to enjoy, I was disregarding the people around me as well.
I hardly went out with friends – even lost some of them in the process as I never bothered to make time for anyone else, let alone myself. It was just me and my kids all the way. I even neglected my husband, which was what prompted “the talk” in the first place. I was sacrificing more and more facets of myself, my very personality, just to leave room for more motherhood. I was turning myself into this one-dimensional caricature with only a single purpose in mind: to be a mom.
And then it dawned on me: This isn’t what I wanted out of motherhood whatsoever. I still wanted to be someone. To be me. There was no reason for my entire life to stop just because I’d become a mom.
Of course, there was no reason to stop with mothering altogether either – that would be ludicrous – but it was time for me to take a step back and reassess things. This is where I sought out the advice of fellow moms, to see how they did things and how come they weren’t feeling overly burdened. When I explained the issue to them, they all ended up telling me the exact same thing: that I needed to tone it down a notch.
Sure, our kids appreciate all the effort we put in whether they show it or not, but they don’t ask us to give 110% at any given moment. All they want is for us to give a little bit so they can return it to us tenfold. So I did. I managed to take the reins of my life back in my own hands and direct it down a better road, one that was able to balance being a mom with my own personal goals and desires.
It took some time, but I managed to start working toward a place I’d feel comfortable in. While I couldn’t go back to my teaching career just yet, I did find another outlet where I could both express myself through writing and help others by creating my own mommy blog where I share my personal experiences, the trials and the tribulations of motherhood, and sparing other moms from having to face the same problems I had to.
So that they don’t lose out on their own lives while still enriching those of their kids.
I also began slowly reintroducing my hobbies back into my life and, as my kids grew up, introduced my hobbies to them as well so we could enjoy them as a family. The ones that stuck were my love for all sorts of tabletop games and even some fantasy books. The former is all in good fun and we all end up playing it for the sheer enjoyment, while the latter has gone so far that my kiddos wanted me to read my books to them rather than your usual children’s bedtime stories.
Of course, I didn’t try to include my children in everything. I’m the type of person who needs a bit of alone time and things I can enjoy in the comfort of absolute privacy, much like many others of my millennial generation.
For me it was being able to create again, to write something other than advice for other moms. While that tends to be somewhat formal and organized with a touch of personality, here I get to let loose and really enjoy what the depths of my creativity are capable of weaving.
To think that only a few years ago I was a mess heading in a downward spiral of self-ruin, only to stop long enough to realize that I was taking the wrong path. If it hadn’t been for that moment of clarity, I dread to think of the state of mind I’d be in right now thinking I was doing the right thing.
Maybe even to the point of becoming a codependent parent. While unlikely, I can definitely see it going in that direction with me becoming so disillusioned in my actions that I’d be convinced I knew what was right better than anyone else.
Thankfully, I dodged that bullet.
In this modern day and age, many millennial parents have realized this as well. That we need to not only think of our kids, but also ourselves, because we need to be in a healthy state of mind to be able to take on not just the responsibilities of parenting, but also anything else that life throws at us. That’s especially true nowadays with the global problems steamrolling us without relent. It can all get rather overwhelming.
Not having an outlet that makes you happy is only going to end up having you buckle and break under the pressure of it all, atop your parental obligations. So please, learn from my experience and don’t let the same happen to you. Don’t forget who you were before you became a mom. While being called Mom is great, it’s not meant to be the only descriptor that explains your life.
You’re much more than that and having your existence boiled down to a singular noun is almost an insult.
Make yourself stand out again, find your own spotlight again, and don’t let yourself turn into someone you won’t be able to recognize or give the time of day if you’d meet that same person on the street.
Find a balance that lets you be there for yourself and your kids in measures that you feel comfortable with, and you’ll find everything as enjoyable as you once did.
About the Author
Ivana Davies is a millennial mom of two wonderful kids. She used to work as a teacher, but now she’s a stay-at-home mom running her own blog, Find Your Mom Tribe. Her goal is uniting moms into a supportive community and providing insight into the everyday struggle of motherhood. You can catch up with Ivana on Facebook and Pinterest.