In this blog entry, I want to share with you a little background on why I started this blog, in hopes you might be able to relate to some of the struggles I describe below. In short, I call it the ‘Motherhood Identity Crisis.’
I think we all have more in common than we all realize and I would love this article to spawn a dialogue about what each of us truly wants in life (at least in this season of life) and how we can support each other to make those dreams a reality.
Did your self-identity and definition of success change after you had kids?
Have you had a ‘motherhood identity crisis?’
I’ve spent a good portion of the last few years trying to figure out my new self-identity after becoming a mother. What do I want to be ‘when I grow up’? (which is ironic because I think I’ve acted, mostly, like a grown-up since I was 12….my parents might beg to differ but I have always been one to take life (too) seriously).
Have you ever hit the same dilemma?
I initially launched this blog in January with a different website name. Then, I meandered into network marketing, sharing nutritional products that I (still) love. Then, I started building a presence on Facebook and Instagram. Now, I’ve been pulled back to blogging.
What am I trying to accomplish? What is my strategy? Who do I want to be when I grow up? What makes me happy? What direction would be a good example for my boys? I’ve been clarifying what I DON’T want but sometimes it’s harder to decide what I DO want.
Before kids, I defined myself with all sorts of labels that gave me pride and meaning — ‘corporate executive,’ ‘leader,’ ‘EVP’, ‘software start-up entrepreneur’…. When I left that full-time world, all those labels went away and I was left with just ‘mom’ and ‘wife’. Please don’t take this wrong, those are beautiful labels and I’ve learned to embrace them. But, I previously spent 36 years with the mindset that those aren’t enough.
I think many of us grew up with the idea that we should want it all, and be able to do it all. That’s impossible and unrealistic. I think these thoughts are common though, and can even be reinforced (usually innocently) by family, friends, and strangers.
Do you hear these questions or have these thoughts:
- Being a mom isn’t an accomplishment, it’s biological.
- Being a mom doesn’t take any special skills beyond the ability to consume a fair amount of wine.
- Don’t you want to use your talents for more than just carpooling, cooking, cleaning, and laundry?
- What about the huge gap in your resume?
- Did you lose your ambition?
- If you ever want to re-start your career, your skills will probably be obsolete.
- Why does dad go to work and you are just here with us?
- Where do you work – are you just a stay-at-home mom?
- What do you do all day?
- These seemingly innocent questions somehow validate the debate raging in my head. What is the answer to all this BS consuming my brain? I could
Tie a bow around the past and live with the knowledge that I was once successful.
Occasionally show my boys the awards I’ve won and hope they can see those objects and understand that I’m an example for them too, in addition to their dad
Figure out another path.
This is painful at times. In reality, it would be much easier for me to go back to work and back into that old identity without all these stereotypes, self-hate, and doubts consuming me.
But, that’s not my goal or passion anymore. I am building a new ‘Motherhood Self-Identity’.
And before I jump into what my goals ARE, I want to say that I’m sharing my goals with no judgment of anyone else’s goals or priorities or choices. We each need to define what makes us happy and our family successful, and then attack that plan.
So, if you are with your kids full-time and are focusing mainly on them, I am so truly impressed. There are so many times, I wish that I was more of a play-on-the-floor, hit the park every day, library-going, playdate planning mom. I beat myself up all the time for not being that mom (or at least the false picture of what I think she is and what she’s doing).
Or, if you are working full-time, juggling lots of responsibilities, finding joy in a full-time career and motherhood (and taking those solo business trips, which I am so jealous of) ….I am also 100% supportive of you.
Wherever you are on the spectrum of work-motherhood balance, it’s for you to decide and for no one else to judge. I’m guessing you have similar questions swimming in your head too. This questioning of our own path and choices is universal for women, I think.
So with that important disclaimer, I will continue. My current goals are to:
- Find a balance between professional ambitions and being present for my family (I personally am not capable of balance when I’m working full-time. When I’m at work, I obsess over my kids and when I’m at home, I obsess over everything I need to get done at work. It’s crazy town.)
- Create something I’m passionate about, that could grow into a business over time
- Have the freedom to take my kids on adventures when we choose
- Try my best to be present for whatever I’m doing (overcoming digital distraction is tough)
- Have the option to work out at 10 am if I want
- Wear yoga pants 99% of the time
I believe blogging matches these overall goals, how I want to design my life right now. So, that’s it….a raw glimpse into my thought process and what tears me up at times.
What about you? Do you face similar dilemmas – who are you now and what do you want to be and do at this phase of life? How are you tackling those questions?
I thought I’d share the 5 steps I’ve used to answer the questions ‘who and what do I want to be when I grow up’. I hope this might help you if you’re in the same position.
Recognize all these shitty things we tell ourselves, they aren’t true.
When your brain starts to invent a story about how you’re not good enough, stop the thought and simply acknowledge that isn’t helpful. Change your thought pattern.
If someone is asking you questions that reinforce the unhealthy thinking, first, internally acknowledge what is happening and how it impacts your mindset. Then, either address it head-on or redirect the conversation.
Redefine success for this season of your life.
I recommend journaling and visualization exercises for this step.
Write down what is your current definition of success? This will pull out a lot of that old thinking and bias.
Then, write out your new definition of success. What does an ideal day, week, month or year look like for you? What would it look like to be ‘successful’? In your journal, write out as much detail as you can – what are you doing, who are you with, what are you wearing, what does it smell like, what do you see around you, how do you feel, etc.
Find your own passion
This has been a challenging one for me. I’ve used a combination of trial and error and research to really hone in on my direction.
I’ve also been reading a lot on this topic. Two of my favorite books related to this topic are
written by Brene Brown —
Another approach I recommend is finding your passion through websites, facebook pages, facebook groups, and podcasts. Take notice of the topics you gravitate toward and then figure out what direction could match to those.
Try pinpointing all the things you’ve dreamed of doing but have stopped short. This is most likely your body resisting change by invoking fear – maybe you’re afraid of rejection or failure. Usually, this fear is an indicator that it’s something worth trying.
Put fear aside and take action (it might be messy but that’s okay)
So now that you’ve identified your definition of success and your passion(s), take action. Don’t wait until everything is perfectly mapped out before you jump in. Nothing is ever perfect (this coming from a recovering perfectionist).
Oftentimes, we are paralyzed by fear. We let fear keep us in our comfort zone and avoid taking action. There are some great TED Talks about fear on YouTube. I highly recommend watching a few, including one of my favorites, Isaac Lidsky on ‘What Reality Are You Creating for Yourself‘
Recognize there is no one answer – embrace the journey.
This is tricky.
I write out 3 gratitudes each morning as I start the day. I use this technique to reinforce the fact that I need to embrace the journey and not just focus on the ‘end’ result (there is no end, I’ve been told).
Do these thoughts resonate with you? Are you struggling with similar thoughts and an identity crisis? Are you in search of your own passion or have you identified it already? If you’re willing to share your experience, please comment below. Or, if you’d rather keep it private, send me a private message via my Facebook page.
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and if any of this resonates with you and your experiences. Or, maybe you just want to tell me I’m crazy and that’s fine too 😊
I look forward to hearing how you’re crushing motherhood,