Self care

Don’t ask “who am I?” Ask “how am I?”

Since becoming a mum, have you ever thought I don’t know who I am anymore? If the answer is yes, then you’re not alone.

I always wanted to become a mum and I feel blessed beyond measure to now be one. But mum life is different in so many ways to how I imagined it would be. That isn’t a bad thing; it’s just meant I’ve had to rethink how I view certain aspects of my life.

The biggest challenge for me in the first month was feeling like I’d lost my identity. I found myself constantly thinking who am I now?

I felt lost no longer being an employee where I had a clear job description. I no longer had a set routine, nor was one possible. I no longer got to see the same people every day, and I missed them.

Life in the early weeks consists of changing nappies, feeding, bathing, putting the baby to bed and doing the washing. Of course, play time happens too, but when your baby isn’t smiling or cooing yet, the relationship doesn’t feel reciprocal.

I knew that these tasks were necessary for Henry’s survival, and I knew that they played a crucial role in the bonding process. And don’t get me wrong, I savoured every second of most of these tasks…it’s just that I couldn’t see past them.

When you’re entirely consumed by your circumstances, it’s really hard to put things in perspective. As we know, there’s a big difference between someone telling you there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and actually seeing it for yourself.

Perspective is what comes with hindsight. And my perspective now is that it’s better to ask myself “how am I?” instead of “who am I?”

“Who” you are consists of things like your values, your beliefs, your ethics and your interests.

“How” you are, on the other hand, relates to the ways that you manifest the “who.” It’s the way you prioritise the different parts of “who” you are.

To explain this simply, part of “who” I am is someone that loves fishing. “How” I am at the moment though means I can’t go fishing offshore (Henry is exclusively breastfed so I can’t be away from him for hours on end). This doesn’t mean that a love of fishing is no longer part of “who” I am. It just means that I’ve prioritised another part of “who” I am for the present time.

Feelings of loss of identity when becoming a mum are very normal. But identity isn’t something we lose and then gain back later. It’s an evolution that we take part in over the course of our lives.

I don’t want to look back and regret not enjoying every stage of Henry’s development. Childhood is over in a blink and I already look at him and think wow, you’re not little anymore! I’m not going to spend precious time pining over the things I can’t do at the moment.

Becoming a mother has enriched “who” I am, not taken away from it.

“How” I mother is what I want to pay attention to.

Beth x

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