It’s funny how Motherhood changes you. I was ready for the physical changes, I was expecting stretch marks, saggy skin, bags under my eyes and I was bracing myself for a blow to my body confidence. Miraculously I seem to have got away pretty easily as far as the physical changes go but that hasn’t meant I’ve come out the other side with my confidence in tact. I’m not talking body confidence or confidence in myself as a Mother, that’s a whole different issue, I’m talking the main stage, real deal kind of confidence. Your basic ‘Who am I and what do I even want?!’ kind of situation.
Disclaimer: If you’re not in the mood for a pretty deep, soul searching kind of post then I would suggest you click away now, if you are planning on sticking around then I would suggest a large glass of wine and a good pile of snacks.
As a relatively young Mum at 22, it feels only too recently that I was figuring out all these questions about myself the first time around. It wasn’t an easy ride but I think I’d basically got there, I knew what I liked and what I believed in, I had strong opinions on almost everything and I had at least a rough idea of how I wanted my life to be. I had however fallen into the trap, which I think a lot of us fall into, of defining myself and my identity by various things.
It’s so easy to do and I actually think it’s totally normal to allow some of these things to become an ingrained part of your identity. It could be the type of clothes you wear, how you style your hair and do your make up, what career you choose, what you like to do with your free time, what music makes you happy and what telly you like to watch. But when you become a Mum, one of the main things you lose is time. You find yourself in a position where you might not have the time to style your hair or do anything more to your face than a dash of mascara. You might be happy to get out of the house at all even if you are wearing your oldest jeans and a plain t shirt. You might not always have the time to watch telly or keep up with the music that you love. You might give up your career and your financial independence to stay at home. And when all of these things are taken from you or put on a back burner while you figure out how to raise a human, it’s no wonder that you can lose all confidence in yourself and your identity.
This is definitely what has happened to me. I live for Darcie, she is my world and raising her is my number one priority and blessing above anything else in my life. But I’ve given so much of myself to raising her that I’ve left nothing for myself, let alone anyone else in my life. Now she has had her first birthday, she is well and truly out of the ‘baby stage’, she hardly breastfeeds anymore and is more and more frequently being referred to as a ‘toddler’ (don’t mind me while I just cry into my wine!). She still needs me but not in the same newborn way that she used to. I have more time now to think about what I want to do with my future or to wear clothes that I love or do my hair properly. I can leave her for more than an hour at a time and she’ll be absolutely fine with her Daddy or with some other family member or friend. I can have a life and an identity outside of being a Mum, and that has left me lost, wondering what did I used to be interested in? Who did I used to be? I’ve found myself in a position where I have confidence in my identity as a Mother but not as just plain old me.
The majority of my conversations these days are either to or about Darcie. Darcie can babble back to me and gesture excitedly but you can’t really call it conversation, and as much as I am fascinated by every detail in her development I can feel people switching off as I talk about her naps or what her new favourite food is. I used to talk confidently and passionately about my work, my interests, the holidays I’d been on or the crazy nights out with my friends. I have become boring, my conversation is limited and of little interest to anyone outside of the ‘mum and baby’ world. I seem to have forgotten that I am an intelligent person, I did well in school and enjoyed reading and learning about my interests and the world around me. There is so much more to me than nappy changes and bedtime routines.
A huge issue for me is that I’ve always taken so much pride in being financially independent, always insisting on splitting bills down the middle despite Dan earning more than me. So to lose this independence and freedom and to suddenly be reliant on him has massively knocked my pride and confidence.
Not being able to drive myself from A to B, to take Darcie to the beach on a whim or to a new soft play, makes me feel like a sub par adult and parent and I feel guilty that if I don’t become confident in the road soon it will start to hold back her possibilities not just my own.
Growing up I was the stubborn one, the black sheep of the family, I knew my own mind and I wasn’t afraid to voice it. I have my parents to thank for raising my to be this way, although I know I drove them crazy at times. Throughout my teens I was very headstrong, stubborn and confident in my decisions and opinions, but somewhere in the last few years I’ve lost that girl. I’ve become someone who needs a second opinion before I can make a decision and I allow myself to be limited by things that I never would have given a second thought to before. This isn’t me, I don’t want to be this person and I need to find a way to get the old me back. The good bits of her anyway! If 18 year old me met 23 year old me, I wouldn’t recognise myself. I don’t want anyone to think this is a total pity party, I know I have changed for the better in some ways, I’m more patient and empathetic now and in many ways I am a fantastic mother to Darcie. But I miss the girl I used to be and I want to raise Darcie knowing that girl. The girl who didn’t take no for an answer and was so passionate and thirsty for adventure. How can I raise her to be the best version of herself unless I am showing her the best version of myself?
I’ve allowed myself to become watered down, I’m a lukewarm version of myself. It’s happened so gradually, piece by piece, that although I’m only really realising it now, I can see that it has been a long time coming. Acknowledgement must be the first step, so this is me acknowledging this problem and committing to finding my way back.
Well done if you made it to the end of that, if you know me in the real world please don’t worry about me or think that I am not okay. I am so okay. I am so happy with my life as it is, but there is always room for improvement and this is what I need to improve right now. We all have things we want to change, I have just chosen to share the inner workings of my mind with the internet. I can’t afford a therapist but this is for sure the next best thing. And if your are reading this in the future Darcie, this is absolutely not your fault, you have improved my life in more ways than you could even imagine and made me happier than I ever knew I could be. I hope you are reading this and thinking ‘that doesn’t sound like my Mum!’