Identity Loss in Motherhood

As a mother, the profound shifts in priorities and daily routines can lead to a loss of identity. But through self-compassion, self-awareness, setting boundaries, seeking support, reevaluating priorities, and practicing self-care, I've found a way to reclaim my sense of self while embracing the journey of motherhood.
TS Identity Loss in Motherhood

Although it takes around 9 months of pregnancy and hearing everyone saying “your life will never be the same again.” or “enjoy your last moments of freedom.” → it never sinks in or has the impact it should, until your baby arrives. There is no ‘gradual’ introduction into motherhood which finds us facing identity loss in motherhood.

Motherhood is a transformative journey, often marked by profound shifts in priorities, values, and daily routines. And it’s instant. 

 

Understanding Identity Loss in Motherhood

The challenges of balancing career aspirations with the demands of motherhood can exacerbate feelings of identity loss. The transition from a professional identity to a primarily caregiving role can be jarring, leaving many women questioning their sense of purpose and self-worth outside of motherhood. I know this is how I felt! I went from a decent corporate career, confidence in all my abilities and skills to taking care of a colic, reflux baby who didn’t sleep and I had zero confidence in anything that I did, second guessed myself at every turn and felt like I was failing every single minute.

I missed who I was. And then felt guilty of missing who I was. Who am I now? Is this it? I don’t know if this is what I signed up for! Why does every one else make it look so easy and happy? This is not easy and I am not happy! ← a few of the thoughts that went through my mind all day.

Truth is, although your pre-motherhood life is gone…. it gives you an opportunity to really dig into what is that you want. Amongst the sweats, dirty hair, washing, cooking, cleaning, feeding, changing, nappy duty, and so on …. you get to re-evaluate your priorities, your values and your desires.

Excited? You should be! (I’ve prepared a FREE Mom Identity Makeover Checklist for you)

 

Common Challenges Faced by Working Moms Around Identity Loss

Working moms encounter a unique set of challenges that can contribute to feelings of identity loss. These challenges may include:

  1. Balancing Work and Family Responsibilities: Juggling career commitments with the demands of childcare can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stretched thin. It is the age old discussion around work-life balance and does it even exist?
  2. Navigating Professional Identity: The shift from a professional career to a caregiving role can lead to uncertainty and self-doubt about your professional identity and future career prospects. Will you ever get taken seriously again?
  3. Managing Guilt and Expectations: We often grapple with feelings of guilt, whether it’s guilt about not spending enough time with our kids or guilt about prioritizing careers over family. Spoiler alert – this never actually goes away. BUT .. you can manage your own expectations better. Reset your expectations on both the work and motherhood front and the guilt will start to slowly subside as you’re doing the best you can.
  4. Coping with Societal Expectations: aka comparisonitus. We can’t help ourselves, I get it. Other moms make it look so easy, they look so put together, and so relaxed with smiling and happy kids. You know for a fact that this is not an accurate picture of their REAL lives. It is a moment. Your journey is unique and you’re nailing it!

 

Strategies for Navigating Identity Loss in Motherhood

Here few strategies I have incorporated into my personal journey to navigate identity loss and reclaim a sense of self and purpose:

  1. Practice Self-Compassion. Yes, this is not easy especially in this season of your life. The demands on you are exhausting and overwhelming, I get it. But if you don’t have your own back – who else will? It is intense and it’s easy to question yourself and your abilities, but when you start to go down that rabbit hole → catch yourself. Focus on the fact that this incredibly unique human is in YOUR care. Not anyone else’s. You have been trusted with the biggest job in the world… that would not have been given to you if you were not qualified. You’ve got this → remember that and be kind to yourself during this process. It is totally normal and more than ok to feel the loss of your previous self. It wouldn’t be right if you didn’t!

  2. Cultivate Self-Awareness. Take the time to reflect on your values, interests, and passions outside of motherhood and work as this does take time. This season of life is chaotic and messy, so it is probably your last thought to reflect, but when there is a quiet moment and you are able to take the opportunity – do it. It allows your mind to open up, move out of the chaos and into “what’s next”.

  3. Set Boundaries. This is always a tricky one as a mom. You feel that you have to be there for and please everyone. But the truth is – you don’t! You are only responsible for your child(ren). That is all. So if you need to protect your peace, capacity or mental health → do it without hesitation. Let your network, family or colleagues know your boundary and stick to it. If it is not received well, that is a reflection on the other party and not you. It’s not yours to take on. You need to focus on YOU and your child(ren).

  4. Seek Support. There is a stigma around asking for support as a mom these days and I really want it to be cancelled! There is a saying “It takes a village to raise a child” for a reason. Whilst social media dictates these ‘supermom’ vibes, I am here to tell you it is NOT true. What people put on social media does not depict their actual lives. Every single mom struggles with identity loss in motherhood. Every single mom struggles with self-doubt and low self-worth. If you need the help, you ask. It does not mean you are any less of a mother, it does not mean you can’t handle being a mother, what it DOES mean is that you are incredibly self-aware to know that you need a break and you’re putting your hand up.

  5. Reevaluate Priorities & Values. This is a biggie! Your priorities before motherhood were very different as it was just you. Now you have a tiny human FULLY dependent on you 24/7. Yikes! And if you are anything like I was, the first newborn baby I held was my own. I don’t think I had a nurturing bone in my body!! I was all about the title, salary, car, office….

    Once you’ve reviewed and reassessed your priorities and values → they really do help you stay true to and aligned with yourself.

  6. Practice Self-Care. Again, I know this seems like a far cry right now, but it is a necessary! Even if it’s a hot bath, a walk around the neighborhood, listening to an audio book. What ever it is that will help you keep your cup full → you HAVE to do it. Start with small things every single day and once it becomes a habit, you’ll see how your nervous system rewards you by responding to challenges in a more effective way. You can’t be the best mom you can if you’re not looking after you.

Identity loss in motherhood is hard, emotional and messy, but not uncommon. Every transformation comes from a loss of a former self. It’s all about growth, always! I’ve done a FREE Mom Identity Makeover Checklist for you to download.

 

Your New Identity as a Working Mom

Motherhood will always be your primary role. If your child(ren) needs you, you drop everything and you’re there. But it can’t consume you and take over your identity as anything else. It runs in parallel to whatever else you’re wanting to focus on. You deserve to live YOUR dream life too. Whatever that looks like. Want to start your own business? Do it! Want to push for a promotion? Do it! Want to write a book? Do it! Don’t stop your life just because you’ve entered into the world of motherhood… it is possible and necessary to do both.

One day your kids will leave home and you don’t want to be in the second phase of your life saying to yourself “What now? I don’t know what to do.” as that brings regret.

We get one shot… ONE. Let’s make the best of it while showing the world how strong we truly are.

You’ve Got This!

Share:

More Posts

DTD EP34 Let Them

EP34 Let Them

Welcome back to Ditch The Debate Podcast! Today, I delve into the “Let Them” mindset, a transformative approach that’s helped me as a working mom struggling with control issues and burnout. Tune in to learn how letting go can lead to a more peaceful, fulfilling life.

DTD Ep33 Are You A High Performance Mom

EP33 Are You A High Performance Mom?

Being a high performance mom is a title many strive for, but what does it really mean? While the concept sounds appealing, it’s crucial to delve into both the rewards and the challenges that come with balancing high ambition and the demands of motherhood.

DTD EP32 Why are Procrastination and Perfectionism twins

EP32 Why are Procrastination and Perfectionism twins?

I want to take a moment to explore the intricate relationship between procrastination and perfectionism. They often fuel each other, forming a toxic cycle that traps us in paralysis. Perfectionism drives us to set impossibly high standards, leading to feelings of inadequacy. Procrastination then becomes a coping mechanism, as we fear not meeting those standards. This cycle exacerbates stress and anxiety, trapping us in delay and self-criticism, hindering our progress and enjoyment of the journey.

Join My Newsletter

Select your currency
ZAR South African rand