Maternity vs. Identity
It has been difficult to write about my experience as a first-time mum. Mainly due to lack of time and chronic tiredness. I have shared some of my feelings with my good friends and they’ve encouraged me to write about it as soon as I feel fit to do so. As I’ve said in my last post, I have recently returned to work after a year on maternity leave, and I already feel like I got a piece of my identity back. I also got some time for myself back, which is why I can write again. It is so refreshing to have a coffee break or a lunch break that is long enough to recharge and write a little.
As I thought of returning to my blog, I was faced with another big challenge. The blog was called World Is You Today – Women Empowerment Elaborates. That is before it got deleted. The main purpose of the “elaborates” was to share my life experience with other women (and men who read it more that I’d expected) in the hope that my inner strength and resilience could motivate them and help build their own confidence. After having a baby, I was struggling with my own confidence each day, so how could I help others? I felt that I could not share the story of my challenges, as I had no answers on how to fix them.
I had no answers, but a million questions—and I needed someone to tell me how to feel better. Now, I believe that a necessity for survival in the first-time mum reality is sharing your feelings with other people. It is unbelievable how quickly you feel better, when you realize that you are not alone. You begin to realize that you are not failing, but just adjusting to a very new situation.
I love my baby so much, and I am really obsessed with him. I want to make sure he is happy, healthy, and well taken care of. Despite plenty of handbooks I’ve purchased and I am grateful for, it is still a tough job caring for a child. It is a huge responsibility, and as with every other job I’ve ever had, I take it seriously. I’ve listened to my instincts and checked in with professionals, and my baby still manages to surprise me every week with something new.
Every time I get to the point where I feel like I’ve finally nailed it, he has a growth spurt and another reason for not sleeping. I’ve worked hard every day and night to ensure that he is fed, changed, in a peaceful environment, but also stimulated enough to learn and grow. I’ve made sure that he does not cry for longer than a minute (as I personally cannot take crying without having a little nervous breakdown), that he naps regularly, and that he gets to spend time outdoors. But my little man always makes sure that I do not get a break or a full night’s sleep. Oh, but I love him!
My initial struggle was mainly about losing my identity. I became a mum, and it seemed like that was all I could be from now on. Basically, if anyone would have asked me who I was, I’d say, “A mum.” But I am not just a mum. I am a super mum who is also a woman, a wife, a good marketer. I am the woman who has worked for many years to establish her identity, to cultivate her artistry. I have traveled and ensured that each trip has taught me something new about people and mindfulness.
Because I have very little time to nurture myself, the journey to regain my full identity is bumpy. I can squeeze in showers and makeup, and ensure I wear clean clothes—and this is as much as I can do to at least physically resemble my old self. It is the spiritual part of me that needs nurturing, but I am on my way there.
I felt like my old self again a little the day I walked through the office door (wearing my high heels—as a statement) for the first time in a year! As hard as it was to leave my baby, I felt a slight relief. It was a relief that once I entered my “old” environment,” I was not just a mum. I was myself again. And now, I’m a proud mum, too.