It was a typical night in my house. My husband and I were having dinner at the table. I was breastfeeding the baby, trying to still eat one handed, while across from me our toddler was stubbornly refusing to eat anything on his plate at all.
My husband asked me, “How was your day?”
I told him all about what our toddler did and said, how much the baby slept, what things I did around the house and shared my worries about how to tackle toilet training. He took it all in, listening actively as he does.
But then looked at me and said, “That’s all great to hear. But how was your day? How are you?”
I nearly burst into tears. I would have, if I didn’t want to upset my toddler by crying in front of him.
I can’t remember the last time I really thought about, for any extended length of time, how I was feeling and how I was.
Motherhood was consuming me. I could barely even remember who I was before having children anymore.
Was I still Sal? The funny, honest, emotional and adventurous person I had been for 32 years? Was I still interested in reading a good book, discovering new places, walking great distances just for pleasure, and having long chats with my friends and husband about topics other than children?
Or was I now just Mummy? A parent who puts her children, husband, work and house before herself almost every moment of every day. These days, almost every thought, worry and action I take, is to nurture, care for and protect my precious family. My needs are always secondary.
Some would say this is completely natural and normal. That part of motherhood is being completely selfless.
But in devoting so much of my time and energy into my family, was I denying them the huge pieces of myself that makes me special? Because there is so much more to me than being Mum. I just don’t always remember anymore.
I have to ask myself:
“Have I traded in my identify to become a Mother?”
It is a thought that stops me in my Mum jean wearing tracks. Because if I am honest, I sometimes miss just being me.
I miss being silly with my girlfriends, romantic with my husband, lazy around the house and careless with my money.
There are now huge parts of my personality that don’t get to shine anymore. And there are so many things I previously loved doing that I just don’t ever get to do. Or even think about doing. Because I don’t have the time. And I have to be a grown up.
I have to give out snacks, breastfeed, change nappies, drive to the playground, take sick babies to the doctor, negotiate with stubborn toddlers and worry. Always worry. In fact, there is not one moment of one day where I am not being touched by, or doing something for someone else. It is no wonder that I have lost a sense of self!
Modern motherhood has reached a critical juncture. There is such a spotlight on us now. We are expected to work, be the perfect Mum, have a thriving sex life, a clean and organised house (fuck you Marie Kondo), have perfectly behaved and well rounded children and also present to the world as being put together and healthy.
Where in that scenario does the expectation that we are happy in ourselves and have a life outside of our family without the guilt come in? Absolutely nowhere.
So now knowing all of this, and articulating in this article that I have recognised that I am having a bit of an identity crisis, what am I going to do about it?
Probably nothing. I just don’t have the time. I have washing to fold and a toddler demanding I play with him on the floor.
I will write ‘find myself’ on my ‘to do’ list, under ‘learn how to make sandwich sushi’ or whatever the cool Mums are doing these days.
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