It's yet another hurdle in the endless minefield of womanhood and motherhood. If you somehow give yourself over to being a mom, let some of those interests you used to have slide, maybe you don't go out as much, maybe you don't shop as much, maybe you don't care as much if you have on a perfect outfit...guess what? YOU'RE LOST!
Oh wait, I'm lost? I thought I was right here, being a mom, rolling with the changes that yes, do happen, and yes, can be quite drastic, when you're a mother.
It's another failure signpost if you do get lost, I suppose. "Oh it's so sad that Jenny doesn't have time for (insert activity here) now that she's a mom." Would I expect this huge life event to happen and I would remain the same? Wouldn't that be the real crazy thought, to think that you can or should still maintain being the same person "before kids" as you are "after kids". Think of past life experiences you might have had. I was surely not the same person before I started college than when I graduated, and that was a good thing (a REALLY good thing). Am I the same person I was as a teenager that I am as a woman in my late thirties? Thankfully no.
Am I the same person I was before I had kids? Not at all. Would I still be the same person at 37 that I was at 28 regardless of whether or not I had kids though? Man I hope not. Because change is good, growth is good, becoming a better, deeper feeling person is a good thing, whether it comes partially from becoming a mother or just from maturity and other life experiences that can shape and change you as you get older.
My identity does not remain static as I get older, it changes and becomes more nuanced and colored and richer, just like it would as I age without being a mother. My identity was never locked into being able to sleep late and having more free time and being able to get pedicures at any point I wished during the weekend. Being a lacrosse mom and having Paw Patrol in the background more than I would probably prefer and being woken up in the middle of the night so I can find a missing stuffed animal doesn't affect my own personal identity. And although my twenty something self would never have believed it, driving my super cool navy minivan? Also doesn't really rock the foundation of who I am as a person.
Do I still enjoy doing the things I did as a twenty something? Not really. Doing a bar crawl with friends would require probably a two day babysitter and a case of coconut water at this point and to be honest I'm just really tired and would better enjoy sitting at home watching a movie with my kids and husband and making brownies than navigating a crowded (and since when did they get so loud?) bar. (ed note: to all of you that can still do this and enjoy it, more power to you, this is not a judgment, this is me being jealous of your stamina). The things I sometimes miss aren't gone forever, they just don't fit in with this particular stage in my life, but I can come back to them when the stages shift once again. When my kids are grown and I find myself with more time opening up to read, more time to travel, more time to get those pedicures, more time to spend an entire weekend doing just exactly want I want to do. I probably won't ever go back to the bar crawl days, though, just a hunch.
Instead of warning new moms not to lose themselves, let's continue to address the real, serious issue of postpartum depression and anxiety. Learn those warning signs, pay attention to that, because those are serious things that can affect your health and the health of your baby. But let's not blur the idea between suffering from a serious medical and mental health issue and "losing yourself" in motherhood. If you want to turn your phone off and tune out the rest of the world and just be a mom all weekend, you aren't lost. You are right where you need to be. Why should we be warned against going with change and embracing the new differences in our lives, in ourselves? Why does it have to be that we "disappear" as ourselves as women when we embrace motherhood? Can't this experience be considered an enriching one? I'm sorry if you think the minutiae of motherhood is silly or somehow unworthy of spending my days on, but I'm not lost, my friends.
My identity isn't more than being a mom, rather, being a mom has become part of my entire identity, along with being 5, or turning 30, or being a teenager. Those are all parts that make up who I am as a person. Would I have been accused of losing myself to being 16? No. You are not lost because you can't find time to finish a book or get your hair done because you have a baby at home. That's ridiculous. Being a mother isn't separate from me, and my identity, it's all in the mix. I'm me. I'm a mom. Those two don't exist independently, nor should they. Being a mother shouldn't be considered a drain on "being you" or something that has snatched away some of your essence as a person, it should be, it can be, another aspect that adds into the whole picture.
Furthermore, I've gotta tell you, "losing yourself" can actually be quite liberating. Before I had kids I was a typical twenty something. I like to think I wasn't totally self absorbed, but most of my concerns were probably about myself. Being able to shift my focus to these kids, making sure they're taken care of and safe and warm and happy, yes it can be mentally draining, but it sure beats the hell out of worrying about my own little problems.
Now, I can already see the comments, so let me just say, yes, we need breaks being a mom. But you also need a break from your (non parenting) job. You need a break from work, you need a break from life. It's a good thing, but to say that motherhood is inherently something so difficult and stressful that you need to maintain this shred of who you were before or mourn the loss of a person you once were, I'm sorry, but I reject that. Teach me how to embrace it, how to see the beauty in the craziness, how to grow as a person and as a mom, don't tell me to avoid "losing myself" (again see the part about postpartum depression, totally different scenario people).
Putting pressure on mothers to maintain this pre-kids notion of ourselves is just another added stress that we really do not need as mothers. Please don't mourn the "loss" of a person you once were, celebrate the ways you have changed into the person you are now.
I'm still here. I'm just the newer version of me, watching the Fraggles on Netflix and making those brownies I saw on Pinterest, kissing boo boos and teaching these little people I made how to do life. So yes, I guess some of you can say I lost myself, and I don't need to be found.