A human being is made up of many identities. The prominent identity is usually the one that is given the most time and effort.
One of the most common feelings of a first time mother is the loss of identity outside of motherhood.
For some, whilst we are embracing the wonderful gift in front of us we are also harping back to the women we once were.
Our lives change dramatically and suddenly our sole focus is to provide for another. To care for another, to live for another. For some, our world becomes so much about another human being that we feel we have lost ourselves.
This may sound selfish as we have chosen to have a baby, and our little helpless bundle of joy of course should come first, but there is no shame in admitting that this life altering arrival can also leave us feeling a little lost.
After childbirth society gives us two options. You can be a stay at home mother or a working mother. Never are you simply a woman. We do not refer to fathers in the same way. Once a man becomes a father he is not categorised by it from then on.
Of course for the modern woman the ultimate goal within society is to ‘have it all,’ to live a life where we are accomplished individuals as well as excellent mothers. If we do not choose to have a career outside of the home have we failed? If we do try to do it all but are still not happy have we failed? Are we trying to create an identity outside of motherhood because society tells us we should?
The role of motherhood
Both the role of stay at home mother and working mother house issues in forming solid identities outside of motherhood.
A stay at home mother traditionally is seen to cook, clean and care. Her time is consumed with meeting other’s needs and is often a 24/7 role. You can’t clock out at 5pm and assume another identity. The role is all consuming and depending on your partner may or may not leave little room to develop those sub – identities.
A working mother due to the still prevalent traditional roles of women is often expected to care for the home and the children whilst at the same time contributing to the household income. The working mother obviously assumes a different role to motherhood at work but often the task of looking after the family home as well as working can take its toll, leaving her little time for herself outside of the two roles.
Of course being identified solely as a mother is not an issue for all women. In the way that a person may dream their whole life of being a pilot, another may dream their whole life of being a mother and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Motherhood is a tough job and raising children is something to be proud of.
For me I would rather be seen as an individual. At times I am a dancer, at times I am a teacher, I am a blogger, I am a wife and of course I am a mother. Overall I am a woman and one step further I am a human being made up of many dimensions.
It is my job however to maintain these identities. I cannot be a dancer if I do not dance. I cannot be a teacher if I do not teach. If I want to be seen as multi layered then I have to make the effort. This however becomes about more than just stepping out the door. Tell your partner that you are going to that art class, don’t ask, you are not the only one that can do the bedtime routine. If you are a single mother then ask friends or family to babysit once a week. People are much more willing than you’d think. Make those dreams a reality, whether it is starting that novel you have always said that you will write or working towards that promotion.
Women should not have their identity picked by society
Hopefully one day society will catch up and realise that once a woman has a child she is still a multi-faceted human being but for now we will have settle for being in control of our own lives and maintaining those layers.
It can be exhausting but also exhilarating. Being able to escape what can be quite an overwhelming role for just a couple of hours to be that artist or trampolinist or sister or clubber, whatever it may be, can also give you a new zest for life, not just as a mother but as a female, an individual, a human being.