How to Curb the Motherhood Identity Crisis

By Willow Breckenridge | Jan 27, 2021

Life changes can often throw your perspective of yourself and your roles into a bit of disarray, even when those changes are positive. As a mom, your life is different from your life before you had children, and that shift is one of the best things that can happen in your life as a parent! It means having children you love, family time and a brand new relationship in your life with your favorite little humans. However, being a mother is a big responsibility, and it can take a toll on you.

Sometimes it takes a while to set in and sometimes it comes on quickly, but new mothers often find themselves in a bit of an identity crisis. Sometimes it centers around taking a break from work, and sometimes it simply centers around the consistent change of your life routine. Regardless of the source, entering motherhood can sometimes bring on a bit of an existential crisis that can feel overwhelming and even permanent. However, even though your role in life is changing, it doesn’t mean you as a person have to change. In fact, when viewed as another step in life rather than a daunting change, the identity shift of motherhood can be quite positive. 

Recognizing Motherhood as a Relationship

In Orna Donath’s study and subsequent book of the same name, “Regretting Motherhood,” one of the points she makes that is quite compelling about the motherhood experience is that motherhood — much like sisterhood, friendship, and partnership — is a relationship between two people. In this case, the two people are you and your child. While being a mother is often viewed as a role in life that transforms a woman’s entire identity, being a mother is about a relationship to your children more than anything else.

When you recognize your motherhood as a relationship in your life rather than a role that has to define you, it becomes easier to hold strong in your identity. Adding motherhood to your life doesn’t take things away from you, it’s simply an opportunity to share your personality with yet another member of your family. 

Allowing Your Life to Change

While motherhood doesn’t rob you of your identity or personality by any means, that can be a bit hard to understand while your life is changing all around you. Sometimes, it can be easy to link your identity to your life circumstances without thinking about it. If you’ve taken a step back from work, focused on a brand new set of responsibilities and even notice your body rapidly changing before your eyes, it can be scary. But there’s one important thing to realize when the anxiety begins to set in — who you are inside doesn’t change based on external life circumstances.

When you begin to realize that things can change all around you, but who you are stays the same, you’ll be able to fully embrace bringing a child into the world for the beauty it is. 

Keep Other Parts of Your Life

While who you are will stay with you no matter what, motherhood doesn’t require you to give up your passions and other loves in life — in fact, finding a healthy balance is a part of looking after your mental health. If you care deeply about your yoga practice, make time for it in your schedule. If reading is something that makes you happy, make time for reading during your regular week. It’s a part of self care, and that’s highly important, especially for mothers.

Practice Self Care

Practicing self care is one of the most important parts of creating balance, no matter who you are. When you’re feeling a bit of that identity crisis coming on, falling back on some trusted self care techniques can help you center yourself and remember who you are. Exercising, having some time to yourself, reading, meditation and focusing your attention on your passions can remind you of your commitment to yourself and allow you to devote some mental energy to your own identity. As a mother — and as a person — this can make a world of difference.

Motherhood Doesn’t Have to Be an Identity Crisis

Motherhood can change your life in so many beautiful ways, but it doesn’t need to change who you are. In fact, who you are on the inside is exactly what will make you the amazing, unique mother only you have the power to be.

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