It is an honor and a privilege to be a mom. You grew a life, birthed a baby, fed, bathed, and kissed chubby cheeks. In the enormity of this role, it’s easy to forget your personal identity. After pouring every bit of yourself into the growing and molding of a new person, many of us lose sight of who we once were.
It started when I married my husband. Along with my maiden name, I abandoned things I loved and left a career. After becoming pregnant all of my attention turned to my baby. I immersed myself in motherhood. My passions were snuffed out by sleep deprivation and the physical demands of keeping children alive.
I found myself marooned on the island of motherhood. It was as if I had amnesia; I didn’t remember who I had been or what I liked. I found myself overwhelmed and crying when asked what I liked to do or what I did in my free time. All I did was serve my family. In the fray, I had forgotten to tend to my soul. I took care of my physical needs but not my spiritual ones. My personal identity had become enmeshed with my role as a mother.
Are you like me, struggling to remember who you once were? Have you lost your personal identity somewhere in the haze of parenthood?
Everything you need has already been given to you. When you were in your mother’s womb you were granted all of the passions and gifts you have now. These things make you who you are and should be guarded and nurtured. Do not snuff them out. These are precious embers you must find and fan into a flame.
Here are the questions that helped me find myself and anchor my soul to the things that really matter.
What do you really care about?
What makes you cry when you talk about it? Are there certain things that consistently offend you? Can you start laughing about a subject that others don’t find funny? Are you willing to risk a friendship over a disagreement on certain subjects? Pay attention when you are taken off guard by emotions. When your heart is stirred you know you are close to a fundamental part of your beliefs. These are things that drive you and can lead you on the path to fulfillment in activism, volunteering, politics, or church.
What work makes you feel energized rather than tired?
So many people are doing a job because it was available, rather than doing the job they were meant to do. Your ideal work is the thing that feels natural and sparks your soul. We are all unique for a purpose. It shouldn’t be hard to do what you were created to do. Work will always be difficult at times, but work that brings you satisfaction will feed your spirit. What work would you volunteer for without pay? Do these things and try to minimize or delegate the other tasks.
What physical objects do you collect or find hardest to get rid of?
Tangible objects often stand in for spiritual needs. We surround ourselves with things that make us feel comfortable. Your home helps others to define you. Assumptions will be made about your identity based on your aesthetic and the things you have displayed. You create a space that tells others who you are. Ask yourself what you would grab if you were evacuating your home. Are they gifts or photographs? If yes, you may value relationships. Are they books? You may value knowledge. Are they art? You likely value creativity and passion.
Are there labels you were given throughout your life?
Are there consistent things people have told you about your personality or skills? Perhaps you’ve been told you’re good at conversation. Are people impressed with your attention to detail? Have you been told you are a natural teacher or a gifted cook? What were your favorite things to do as a child? Were you organizing the games you and your friends played? Have you always been a physical achiever? Before you were self-conscious your childhood self-knew what you wanted and what made you happy; Do those things.
What are you most afraid of?
If you died today, what would you regret? Do you want to travel? Are you afraid of being alone, moving to a different city, or never making a difference? Do you spend too little time with your children? Identifying your fear will allow you to strike it down and find courage. So much time and money are wasted on insignificant things. Put your efforts toward a goal. Too many people focus on staying safe and secure rather than risking failure.
I don’t have everything figured out. I’m still working on who I am and where I’m headed. Any large decision or life transition will cause me to revisit these fundamental questions and I will shift course as the wind changes. Keep moving forward. Don’t allow the tide to pull you away from the things you were meant to do in this life.
You have a specific purpose. You are so much more than “just a mom.” Be the person you were made to be and fight toward a bright and fulfilling future.