I guess no one really told me what it’s like to lose yourself. That when it happens you may not even notice until it’s too late. And even then you’re unsure how to come back. Or you feel guilty you’re even thinking that you’ve lost something when you have already gained so much.
Making the shift into being a mum is the biggest transition I have had in my life. And one I am still transitioning through. It’s not like the moment you hold them in your arms you suddenly know all the answers, you know what being a mum entails, you know how to make it all balance, for it to work. It takes time to adjust. Anyone who tells you different maybe isn’t telling it how it is. It is hands down the hardest journey you can embark on, raising another human being to their fullest potential. And anything worth having is never easy to earn as they say. But as we all know the struggle could never outweigh the love, joy and happiness that a family brings to your world. But we are all lifelong students, forever learning, stumbling, taking two steps back followed by a leap of faith forward when it comes to my life as a mum.
Our desire to be a good mum, to give them everything we believe they deserve, to be all the things we wished we had and to help them thrive we need to be in it. So fully in it. With this dedication comes sacrifice, a change in you that must make way for your role as a mother. But this sacrifice often comes in ten folds. That desire deep within us drives us to continue sacrificing for the sake and love of others. Sacrificing and placing everyone before ourselves until we are forced to take a step back and we suddenly realise… somewhere, somehow, we lost ourselves. That sacrifice driven by love for others pushed love away from ourselves. In actual fact, leaving ourselves out of the love equation will only leave our well dry. We can’t possibly thrive and fill that desire to be the best mum we know how when we are coming place a place of deprivation or denial.
Often enough though, it takes reaching our breaking point for us to realise it has gone too far. It takes a big upheaval, a shock, the overwhelm or a breakdown for the reality of our sacrifice to come to the surface.
It starts as a niggling, a bad day when you just feel exhausted and done. You may have feelings like you don’t want to be a mum today, you can’t do this anymore, why is this so hard, I just need to get out of the house on my own, I need time for me, I’m angry that I never have time for me, I never get anything done, I’m exhausted, why is no one helping me. You may be well overdue for a haircut and using on sale home colour to try and cover the greys. Your back aches and you always have headaches. You feel emotionally stressed and strung out and nothing like your old self. You’re always tired, sick or rundown and just hoping for a day off, a sleep in or a sleep through. Work isn’t enjoyable anymore, it’s a drag. You have given up on your dreams. You have forgotten what it feels like to be loved and appreciated.
These are all the calling cards of a mum losing touch with herself. It’s sad to say it but this is normal for so many of us. We delve so deeply into the caring and nurturer role that we throw ourselves to the side. But often when we have these warnings signs that we are losing touch, we continue to forge on and ignore. Maybe part of that is still driven by the desire. But I know a lot is driven by the expectation and judgement. We feel like as a mum if we prioritise our own needs we must be a shit mum. We must be the mum that is being selfish. We mustn’t be a good enough mum. We place this expectation and judgement upon ourselves and then in addition to that we fight the pressure from society and our peers on what a ‘good mum’ looks like.
You cannot possibly be the best mum for your children if you don’t nourish the woman, wife, daughter and friend that you are as well. Being a mum requires me to give my everything, every day. Some days I feel I can’t and some days I love every moment. But if I’m not taking care of me and making sure I find that lost woman, it’s all in vain anyway. Because without her, I truly am lost. Losing myself in mum means I’ve lost some of the best parts of me and these are the parts I’m supposed to showcase and pass on to my children through leading by example. I don’t want them to remember just the mum version of me, I want everything that is so beautifully unique about me to be held in their hearts forever. So that when I am gone, they remember me for who I truly was. And living a life where you aren't truly you and you don't show up... is that a life worth living for? Is that the life you will look back on and be thankful for? That is reason enough to hold dear to your true self and not lose touch.
If you’ve already lost touch, welcome to the club! You are like every other mum working her way through this journey and hoping to God we get it right. You’re like every other mum who will have a moment in time when she feels lost. But take solace in the fact that you can always return home – it is never too late to return to grace.
If you feel it's time to reconnect with yourself, you may enjoy my new book Living with Grace: A mum's guide to self discovery and reconnection amid the beautiful madness of parenting. Click on the BOOK tab on my website