Hi, my name is… Huh?
My name is… who?
My name is… Tikka tikka… I’m Mommy…
I really hope you read that while rapping Eminem in your head!!
I tuned in to an Insta Live with @themammyblog.ie and @lisa_nolan.ie this evening in which they were discussing Maternal Mental Health… and how it is about so much more than Post-Natal Depression.
The whole coversation was so interesting to me as they have both had different experiences, but with lots of common threads, most of which I could relate to on a personal level.
One element of Maternal Mental Health struggles that they touched on was the idenity crisis that so many women go through in the post-partum period… (post-partum not just meaning the first few weeks after the birth, but any time during motherhood really!)
That is definitely one thing that I related to HARD…
Here are the ways in which I felt hardest hit by said Identity Crisis…
Straight out the gap my clothing choices were decided by what was accessible for breastfeeding and didn’t require me to lob out my entire boob in public… so that took some getting used to! I was usually a jeggings & top kinda person to begin with but it was always nice to at least have the option of a dress…
I have always been fussy about my hair (not that you would think it to look at me!), but even while I was pregnant I was already giving up on my somewhat trendy asymmetrical bob because I knew the full wash-dry-straighten routine was not gonna fly with a baby in tow… and I was right! It was scraped back & pinned down 99% of the time thereafter…. and it didn’t get any hint of a colour!
Let me start this bit by saying I am blessed with an amazing bunch of friends who have always been absolute legends before, during and after the arrival of the offspring… However, I definitely felt changes in my interactions with them as time went by. I grew closer with some, further apart from others, and it took time to find a balance.
I could no longer just hop in the car and hit the road for some random fun gathering somewhere in the country. Social events were few and far between for me, and while the invitations did still come, it felt so so hard and disappointing to almost always have to turn them down.
And don’t get me started on the FOMO.
I really started to wonder if I was ever going to be fun again. If I was ever going to even HAVE fun again… that didn’t involve soft play centres…
It has all totally come full circle since and thankfully we are all closer than ever. There has been lots of fun, still not quite enough in my book, but more than expected!
Going back to work first time around felt OK, I slotted back in pretty quickly and seamlessly. Second time around, not so much. New area, new job, a whole year away from a professional environment… I was a total fish out of water. I felt like I had no clue what I was doing and it was a real wobbly time for me. I was only there part-time, which was both a help and a hindrance.
Needless to say, your priorities with regard to work change a LOT when you return as a parent. I felt my head wasn’t as in it as it was before, I was always anxious to leave asap and collect the kids etc. Only in the past year have I felt like I am back in the professional zone fully and properly.
People’s identity often centres around their work and so when that is up in a heap, your whole self can feel the same.
Me as a Mammy
I feel like a huge part of this very common Identity Crisis post-partum centres around wondering things like; Who am I now? What kind of mother am I? What should I be like? Should I be different? Do I need to change? Can I still have purple hair??? Ok maybe that last one is just me…
It takes a while to realise that you can be whatever the hell kinda mammy you want to be. You can wear plunge tops and tiny skirts if that’s your thing. You can have purple asymmetrical hair if that’s your thing. You don’t have to go to Buggy Bootcamp if you don’t want to. Your baby will do just fine without Baby yoga if you would rather lie on the playmat at home & make googoo noises at them for half an hour a day instead.
It is totally normal to look in the mirror and ask yourself “Who the F is that?” and where did I go??
The important thing to remember is not to stop yourself from doing what feels right.
If you try to be something else or be someone else, you are destined to struggle, and probably feel like a failure. Things are challenging enough in parenthood without adding that level of drama into it.
You might feel like the “old you” is gone, but she isn’t. She is still there, she’s probably just a bit lost in the fog of this new life.
Give her time, give her patience, give her grace, and she will find her way back. She might not look the same, but the bits that matter will be the same.
You are still you, same same, but different.
It took me a few years, but eventually I braved the purple hair at long last. I still haven’t ventured back into the asymmetrical hair life but some day I will!
If this resonated with you, you might also like to read my older piece Give it a Year 💜