So often we dream of motherhood. We long for the belly kicks and the magical birth.
We dream of the sweet smell of a newborn, the giggles of a toddler, and the interactive relationship with an older child.
But what we don’t dream of – what we never imagined – are the moments when a mother doesn’t feel like herself.
We don’t dream of those moments of fatigue and worry during pregnancy, which turn us into short tempered, scared and weary versions of ourselves.
We never imagine how the sleep deprivation in our infants’ early days can bring us to tears.
And we don’t know motherhood can be filled with loss, disappointments and scary moments, but also with so much love we can’t always find ways to express it.
We never guess that motherhood can turn us into a version of ourselves we simply don’t recognise.
To The Mother Who Doesn’t Feel Like Herself
But I want you to know, you’re still you.
You – that bright spark that’s you – are still in there.
And this phase is just that – a phase. You will find yourself again, I promise.
All the trials of motherhood, mixed in with all the joy, can change us. But they can change us for the better.
It’s hard to see what growth can come from being knee deep in dirty diapers.
And difficult to imagine a miscarriage can grow you into an even sweeter and more empathetic person.
It’s impossible to see how your child’s stretch of misbehaviour at school can bring anything positive into your life.
But I assure you, these trials can bring growth. And I promise, one day you will recognise yourself again.
You Never Left – You’re Just Overwhelmed
In the midst of the weariness of early motherhood, or the worry over older children, you might feel like the ‘you’ that you know has gone, or that your once pleasant personality has disappeared.
It’s still there – you’re just overwhelmed.
You cannot lose what makes you who you are. But you can be overwhelmed.
That once carefree woman is still there. The wife who greeted her new spouse with a smile is still there. And the patient teacher, the caring nurse, the powerful corporate ladder climber, the empathetic citizen are all still there.
You’re in there. With a little time, patience, mindfulness, intention, and work, you can find ‘you’ again.
Life – whether you’re a mother or not – is hard. The unexpected happens. Loss happens. You might face betrayal or just unfairness.
But you know what else life is? It’s worth it. There’s joy. There’s wonder. And community – if you seek it out.
All the hard things, as well as the good things, grow us, shape us, and take us out of the moments when we feel lost. Then we find ourselves again. Better, stronger versions of ourselves.
Where Am I? Where’s This Better Version Of Me?
In the moments when it doesn’t feel like you, it seems impossible to believe you are still there.
In the moments of weariness, bitterness and madness, it doesn’t feel like you could be gone forever. But I promise, you can’t lose yourself forever.
Be intentional and look for joy. Find moments to be alone, away from the chaos. Take time to journal, have coffee with a friend, or schedule regular appointments with a therapist to help remind yourself you are still there.
Forgive yourself. There’s no guilt in finding motherhood hard.
Seek out community – a group of genuine mothers – and help each other find new versions of yourselves. The strong versions who have survived the never-ending piles of laundry you tackle that no one else seems to notice. The brave versions who got back up after a loss and kept going. The empathetic versions who can come alongside other mothers and simply say, “I know it’s hard. I’m here for you”.
Are You Sure I’m Here? It Feels Impossible I Will Be Me Again.
Yes, you can be you again. And an even better version of you. Don’t underestimate the pure chaos of life with children. Don’t underestimate the power hormones can have on you, through your cycles, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
You aren’t gone – you’re overwhelmed. You’re under the influence of your ever-changing body.
When you can’t find you, ask yourself, “When was the last time I did something for me?” And I don’t mean the last time you practised basic hygiene. A shower isn’t ‘me time’.
When did you have a moment to engage your favorite hobby? Listen to a favourite song without interruption? Read a book you enjoy? Have dinner with a friend?
When was the last time you felt okay saying no to another birthday party, Pinterest craft or extracurricular activity, so you don’t have to feel overwhelmed?
True self-care, the kind that helps you find you, is a lifestyle. It’s being confident about building a life schedule that isn’t constantly overwhelming. It’s also understanding there are moments in life that are simply hard, chaotic, and overwhelming – but knowing it won’t last forever.
Look for you. Be patient with you. I promise, you will find you again.