Friday, August 31, 2007

Saving Your Identiy

I've been thinking a lot about identity. A new mom will no doubt go through a shift in how she sees herself. The world will also see her differently. How do we make sure we keep our old selves while adding motherhood on as a part of our identity? Do we lose who we used to be as we leap into motherhood? Or do we just keep parts of our old selves in tact and add on the new mommy identity? Are stay-at-home mothers more prone to this loss of identity because they have left the paid workforce?

I spend so much time with the babe I sometimes wonder if I am losing who I used to be. I am concerned about balance and keeping myself engaged in the real world. I admit that I have changed a lot since she was born, but I hope I still have those qualities (and faults) that made me who I used to be. I realize I need to be careful to not lose myself in the all consuming job of motherhood. As my wise father said to me recently, children will take as much of you as you let them. If you give 100% of yourself, they will take it. You have to make sure you watch out for your best interests because children will inevitably grow up and leave. Where will you be left if you gave everything to them?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm reading Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. The most relevant thing I've read so far is related to the discussion around losing yourself in motherhood.
"Too many of us now allow ourselves to be defined by motherhood and direct every ounce of our energy into our children. This sounds noble on the surface but in fact it's doing no one--not ourselves, or our children--any good. Because when we lose ourselves in mommy selves, we experience this loss as depression. When we disempower ourselves in our mommy selves, we experience this weakness as anxiety. When we desexualize ourselves in our mommy selves, it leads us to feel dead in our skin. All this places an undue burden upon our children. By making them the be-all-end-all of our lives, by breaking down the boundaries between ourselves and them so thoroughly, by giving them so much power within the family when they're very small, we risk overwhelming them psychologically and ill-preparing them, socially, for the world of other children and eventually, other adults." Page 55
Well said! In terms of my own life, I admit I need to be more proactive in pursuing my interests and making time for myself. I keep saying I am going to do it, and keep not doing it. My husband and I have had many conversations about how I need to have time to myself so I can just be me and not someone's mommy. When I go out alone (which is rare), I feel like my old self, but different. I find it cool that people can look at me and not see a mommy. They just see me, and I like that. I am going to look into taking a yoga class on the weekends. By taking this time, I will work on something that I am interested in pursuing, while also giving myself a break from the non-stop job that is being a stay at home mother. It's back to school time, and for me, it's back to Christine time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sister-in-law here:) Funny that you said "It's back to school time...". For me, that's VERY relevant considering I'm a teacher, and at this moment in time, all my friends are teachers too. They have all gone back to work, and I'm at home.

I went in to school to visit everyone and, of course, the babe came with me. Once they were done oooing and aahing over her, the inevitable question was, "So, do you love being at home?" Well, duh, of course I do. But for some reason, by the time the 30th person asked me that very question, I was getting pretty annoyed. I wasn't sure why until I read the blog. They don't necessarily see me as their collegue anymore. I'm a stay-at-home mom. That bothered me. I love my babe, she's the best thing we have, but I love me too and I'm still the same person who I was before, only different.

I think there is such strong judgement people place on stay-at-home moms, but will never admit to it. I know for a fact that many people at my old workplace think I'm nuts for staying at home. But then, they didn't either. In fact many went back to work after only 6 or 8 weeks... but I digress.

Good job for looking into the yoga class. I should do the same. God only knows I need to meditate.