So many women lose themselves in motherhood. I call this the "Silent War," the process of slowly fading away from yourself, your interests and your passions without even realizing that it is happening.
At some point, all mothers face this crossroad in parenting. We come up for air and realize that we can't answer even the most basic questions like: When is the last time you read a book and finished it? What is your favorite place to shop for clothing? What are your hobbies? When is the last time you had fun doing something that you love?
Mommyhood is a busy, never-ending, demanding world of diaper changes, bottle and breast feedings, sleepless nights, laundry, dinner, carpooling, and homework checking. Not to mention our role as chief love-magnet and nurse.
Upon becoming pregnant, we moms are so focused on preparing for the new baby that we very seldom consider how to navigate this transition and our own personal growth once the baby is born. Most of us spend our time planning pediatrician visits and searching for baby items. It would sure be nice to have compassionate mom mentors telling us about the pitfalls to avoid from the beginning of our pregnancy.
Every mom gets it wrong before she gets it right, but many mothers still struggle with being vulnerable. We must redefine who we are once we become a mother - all with less sleep, clarity and the greatest responsibility that we have ever had to assume. And it isn't just new mothers who struggle with having to constantly adjust either.
Fourteen years ago, when I was six months pregnant with my first child, my mother had a conversation with me that changed my life. My mother explained to me that she had lost her own identity in motherhood. While in pursuit of being a good mother, she forgot to be kind to herself. She told me that the best gift I could give my family is a whole mom: A woman who liked herself, knew herself and respected herself enough to experience her own life.
This translated to weekly "me dates" where I learned to move away from all of my roles as wife and mom for a few moments. It meant that I had to get to know "me" and to think about my life. In the beginning, I visited Barnes & Noble a lot, but as the years went on, I began to purchase tickets to my favorite speaking series or go for a bike ride.
When we think about identity theft, we think about an impostor posing as another person. Yet in motherhood, we are the imposters in our own lives. And it is the result of the admirable quality of wanting to give everything to our children. We forget the most important rule of self-preservation: You cannot give long-term what you do not have. Also, you share more of who you are with your children as you connect with the woman you once were. Making the decision to end the "Silent War" is a decision that each of us has to make in our own time and season. We get to decide what happens in our own lives.
Here are Four Ways to Reconnect with Who You Are After Motherhood:
1. Create a weekly ritual that allows you some time alone. Select the same day and time of the week, and schedule this time on an ongoing basis.
2. Ask yourself, "What can I do right now to make me happier?" Whether it's being happier at home, finding a new hobby or volunteering, your next step is to act on what you have realized.
3. Create a vision board of simple goals that you have for your life. Include your plans like starting an at-home business, losing 50 lbs from pregnancy or completing a 5K, for example.
4. Enjoy something that you did before you were pregnant, like ride a bike or travel.
Mia Redrick, Mom Strategist, is a mom of three, author, and speaker empowering one million mothers to practice better self-care. Redrick is the author of Time for Mom-Me: 5 Essential Strategies for a Mother's Self-Care. For tips from the Mom Strategist, visit FindingDefinitions.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.