Identity Crisis: How becoming a mum changes you but doesn't define you.
The Sunday Age has the knack to both inspire and infuriate* me in one magazine.
This week was the most truthful and honest article I have read in a long time by Megan Blandford (who may just become my new best friend). Her article titled "these four walls" is about the identity crisis she felt when she went from Career Woman to Stay at Home Mum.
Sister - I hear ya.
Identity is something I never really thought about until I became a mum.
I (bar a few awkward teenage years) have always had a strong sense of self. And after the early years of my Chiropractic career, going through hardships, a roller coaster of self discovery and starting my own business with my husband (a true course in who-the-hell-am-I) felt sure of who I was and what I was put on earth to do.
That is, until I had kids.
Becoming a mum was simultaneously the best and most challenging experience of my life.
It wasn't the juggle (in fact I am writing this one handed cradling a 4 month old), nor the sleep deprivation or endless laundry (oh the laundry!) that I find, the hardest. It is that I am now defined by someone else.
I am someone's mum.
I had never been someone's anything before. Even when I got married, I didn't feel owned or defined by my marriage, but now, I drop my daughter off at Kinder and I am "Someone's Mum", my name lost. I am guilty of it too. Always wrapped up in my own life to remember the names of my daughter's friend's mothers. They all just become: "Someone's Mum".
It's somewhat a sobering and humbling experience, all my ego stripped away. But most times I want to scream "I'm someone too!" I've done more than give birth to two tiny humans (who I love more than breathing). I've done more than feed, change nappies, play shops and make animal noises. I've done more than just be a mum.
Some days just the weight of it all seems crushing.
In all of this, I am lucky.
I am lucky to have a husband and friends who see me for more than a mum and who remind me that I am still the person I used to be - but now, more. They remind me of the dreams I used to have and still have. I am lucky that I had help and support to allow me to wear both the mum and entrepreneur hats. And I am grateful that I have been able to demonstrate to my daughters that a woman can be both mum and career woman (my 4 year old is currently playing "meetings" with my handbag).
I have come to realise as we go through life, our identity changes, like a fine wine we gain more complexity and nuances but our base notes stay the same. As people who wear many hats, we need to make it a priority to get back to our base, reconnect with that person we were before we became everything to everyone. The girl who read books in cafes for hours, the celebrated writer, the award winning researcher, the friend who could dance for hours and stay up late into the night debating the hidden meanings of the Harry Potter books, it's all still who I am, but now I am so much more too. Now I know what sound a giraffe makes**.
*The nutrition advice is my usual source of angst - this week helpful tips like pre-packaged meals and instant soups to boost your vegetable intake. Are they kidding?!
**Due to their long throats, giraffes make a low growling noise. But in actual fact, they communicate with other giraffes via body language and only make noise when absolutely nessary like warning other giraffes about predators. The things you can learn from YouTube when your 4 year old asks yuou a question right?