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Losing My Identity

Losing My Identity Memphis Moms Blog

I was convinced that being a mom wouldn’t change me. When I got married, my friends told me that, once I was a wife, I would be different. Independent by nature, I was convinced that it wouldn’t be the case. And almost seven years in, I do believe that being married hasn’t changed me. I’m a better person because of my husband, but I’m not different. So naturally I thought that when I took on another new role, now mom and wife, it would be the same. I’d be better… but not different.

And then she came.

As prepared as I was for Ruthie’s arrival, when it came to being emotionally prepared, there was nothing I could do to get ready for my world to be rocked in such a substantial way. The entire time I was in the hospital, I didn’t sleep. I would just hold her, stare at her, in awe. But once we got back home, I was wrapped up in figuring out our new life. Every bit of me became about her. Especially because of her problems with weight gain, our breastfeeding struggles, her intolerances and reflux, and my infection from my c-section, I did not have time to think existentially about my identity. Since January 2nd, I’ve been going 200 miles a minute, trying to meet every demand of my precious baby girl. And so maybe that’s why it just hit me – I have changed.

It happened a few weeks ago. In almost every way, my life is very much the way it has been for many years and I love that. My parents still live in the house I grew up in, I go to the church I’ve attended since I was 3, I eat at some of the same restaurants I always have, I drive the same streets. This is a lifestyle I chose and I love it – I’m surrounded by a community that loves and knows me, one that helped me grow and shape me into who I am. And so a few Sundays ago, I was sitting in church, serving as a eucharistic minister, something I have done hundreds of times since I was 16. In the same white robe, surrounded by some of the same people, in the same place in the church. It was my first Sunday back serving since having Ruthie. I had put off returning – I’m not really sure why honestly. But there I was, back in the liturgical saddle. I dropped Ruthie off in the church nursery {she screamed the whole time} and I ran upstairs to get ready for the service. I was rushed, I was stressed. Ruthie had a troubling rash that morning and was on antibiotics so I was worried about her.

As I stood in the back of the church, readying for the service, this rush of emotion overcame me. It hit me like a wave – for the first time, I realized that I was, in fact, changed. I was different. I was no longer existing for myself. My whole existence is wrapped up in my role as a mother. And yet, from the outsider perspective, I may seem the same since I haven’t physically, visibly changed.

The other time this happened was when I returned from maternity leave. I distinctly remember having a conversation with a good friend from work who came to visit and meet Ruthie. I was telling her about how I felt like I was a completely different person than when I left and how returning was going to be strange because everyone else at work was the same but I was so different.

And it is true – I am different. I am changed. It has taken me almost a year to realize it. My heart has transformed because of this little girl. My whole identity has shifted. Our souls are intertwined.

As I’ve processed this shift, I’ve learned a lot about who I am now.

I am stronger than I realize. Before childbirth, I had never been through any surgery or medical procedure. I screamed when I stubbed my toe. From my c-section and recovery to the pain that came with figuring out breastfeeding, I can take more than I give myself credit.

I have amazing willpower. For someone who caves during any diet, when it came time to give up dairy, egg, caffeine, spicy food, and onions for Ruthie, I had no problem doing so. I learned that I would do anything if it meant she was in less pain.

I am selfless. When it comes to Ruthie, I really can put her needs before my own. I was worried about this – I’m not usually a particularly selfless person.

I am emotional. I’m an emotional basket case now. Any commercial about a baby, any blog post about a sick child, any scene from a TV show, and I’m sobbing. I’ve never had so many feels in my life.

I am in love. I have experienced a type of love that leaves you gasping for air because you cannot handle how strong it is -an overwhelming, all encompassing, scary, exhilarating love.

So being a mom may have changed me. From the outside people may not realize it. I may look the same but I am different. I am Ruthie’s mom. And it is the best change ever.

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2 Responses to Losing My Identity

  1. Karissa January 5, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    I can completely relate to this and it made me feel good to read that I am not alone in these feelings! Thank you for posting!

    • Kathryn
      Kathryn January 6, 2016 at 10:27 am #

      Thanks, Karissa! It is so hard to explain the feeling – you’re you on the outside, to others, but inside you’re a totally new person. I’m glad you liked the post.