By: Kelly Sutton
When you are pregnant and after you deliver, doctors pay close attention to your mental health. You’re asked questions along the lines of depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Why? Because we are literally stepping into a whole new layer of identity. An identity that is selfless, sacfricial, and super human.
“That’s MY mommy,” my son reminds the world or anyone who tries to challenge my role in his life.
Who are YOU since you’ve become a mom?
Is motherhood a part of you or has it all consumed you?
For me, even though motherhood takes up soooo much time in my life, motherhood is a PART of me.
When I worked as a full time teacher, there were times I cried myself to sleep out of pure exhaustion. Not because I was a working mother, but because I tend to go above and beyond in everything I do. I could no longer give 110% as a wife, 110% as a teacher, and 110% as a mommy. I began questioning my individuality, because I knew I needed to adjust my priorities.
I’d come home from working and commuting through traffic to cook dinner and tireously engage with my son and husband. Although I had been just a wife and teacher for some years, I wanted… I needed to shift my individuality to more motherhood. So my husband and I began strategizing how we could afford for me to be a stay-at-home mom.
Fast forward two years >>>
I’m a stay-at-home who substitute teaches. Now the bigger question became: How do I maintain my individuality?
My son is a mama’s boy; he loves his mama and I love him! My son is undoubtly one my greatest blessings, miracles, and accomplishments.
BUT my gifts and talents don’t just dissolve into the daily mix of mamahood. I love painting, writing, dancing, singing, traveling, and gardening. I love the education field; I love social work; I love affecting change and fighting for social justice. My degree as a teacher was hard to achieve! Plus, I love working with kids.
KIDS. Kids are what have always made me happy. Whether I was being a big sister to my siblings, babysitting, working at the local community center, tutoring/teaching, or MOTHERING; kids are what have always made me happy.
BUT, there’s a BUT! In my season of being a part time stay-at-home mom, I have realized that I really do just need time to just be me. To be me without my kids… or husband. I needed time to drive in my car with the sole purpose of going somewhere to serve myself.
As much as my “now” identity resides in motherhood, there was a part of me who just wanted to go write in the park by myself, read a book, or just go out with some girl friends to talk/pray/laugh about life.
I’m not saying I despise being a mom; I’m saying that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to dress up, put on some makeup, and maintain my individuality.
Motherhood has definitely enriched my individuality.
I know that if my motherhood was ever taken away, there would be a huge hole in my life. I LOVE MY KIDS! Motherhood takes up between 60% – 70% of my mental capacity, therefore naturally, it matters so much to me.
But what I do every once in a while matters too. Loving all of myself is important.
I do this because I need to recharge. Days, weeks, and months have gone by and I realize that I’ve ignored parts of myself.
A solo trip to the grocery store is not self care. Five minutes in the car before you step into the house is not self care. Waking up earlier to enjoy my coffee in peace and quiet is not self care (it was torture to get out of the bed earlier and you know it lol)!
So what are the tips I’m prescribing to myself to maintain my individuality?
M – Make time! Discuss and decide upon a girl’s night 1 – 2 times a month. My partner is very supportive of my me time but scheduling is also very important – one to make sure it happens & two because parenthood is jammed packed with scheduled things already!
A – Alternate what I’m doing. Like I stated before, I know I have many gifts and talents, therefore taking time to pursue all of those things is important.
I – Intentional self reflection. Journaling has also been a part of my life ever since I owned my first diary as a girl. I hope to use my journaling as a daily tool for mainitaining my individuality.
N – No excuses. I tend to cancel a lot because in the moment I get overwhelmed with what’s currently going on OR I just want to relax at home with my family. BUT it’s time to switch it up and not make excuses for what I’ve planned to do for myself.
T – Try new hobbies. It’s never too late to add to my gifts and talents, right?!
A – ALL IN! I’m trying to make maintaining my individuality a habit and not something that will fade away after a few months. Why? Because I’m worth it!
I – Introduce the concept to others, because the more people in my social circles who care about their individuality, the more accountability partners I have to encourage me to do the same.
N – Never stop trying. I know at first, it’s super exciting and easy to commit to a new goal. I know six weeks, months, and years from now, I will still have to make an effort to not solely indulge in my motherhood. I will have to try to “do all of me” in the mist of life’s responsibilities and remind myself, I’m worth it!
How do you maintain your individuality?
Comment below; I’d love to here how you balance your life too.