Motherhood didn’t strip me of an identity; it gave me one

Lana and Leon feature size

I’m acutely aware that for many women motherhood strips them of an identity.

They crave reclaiming their former self and feel like screaming they are, “more than just a mum!”, or “I have a name other than mum, you know“. I get that. Society is pretty shitty in the way it closes women in on themselves when they have children. It boxes us out and makes us feel like we need to assert ourselves and fight our way back in to our former circles, workplaces or even stake claim to our pre-baby interests.

But I personally didn’t feel my identity was suffocated when I had kids. In fact, I felt the opposite. Maybe I am alone in this, or maybe you feel it too?

A little lost lamb

Before I had my two beautiful boys, I was a little lost. I’d travelled the world, fell in and out of love, tried my hand at a few different career paths but didn’t feel like I’d really made much headway. 

I’ve also never been a ‘hobby person’ or a ‘cooking type’ or any ‘type’ really. I’m not creative or crafty in the way that other people are who build things, make ‘works’  or gift their passions. A present from me is always from a shop. An arty shop mind you, but one with things made by other talented, probably more ‘identified’ people than me.

I was just me. Happy enough in myself but I didn’t feel like I really contributed in any big way to anything or anyone. I certainly loved and was loved in return by my hubby, family and friends, but I didn’t feel I had an overwhelming purpose for my life. 

Then I became a mum

When I welcomed my first son, Leon, into the world, I felt a bit like a fish out of water. It took me a few days to bond with him, due to the fact that I’d had a cesarean and my post-birth hormones were a bit haywire, I think, but when I did, boy did I bond!

Lana and newborn Leon

I can remember the defining moment perfectly. He was lying next to me, his tiny newborn body snuggled into mine as he fed from me properly for the first time. Before that we’d had attachment issues and I felt a bit distant from him. Then, as if someone had sprinkled some magic breastfeeding dust on us, he latched on and we connected in a physical sense for the first time since he’d lived outside of me.  

In that moment, as I peered down at him sucking away and stroked his peach fuzz head, it hit me. I was in love. And it was a love I had never felt before.

The greatest gift

It was a deep, instinctual love, a ‘I’m going to protect you and love you always, no matter what’ kind of love.

I had become something bigger than me.

As the months turned into years, I fell more and more in love with my firstborn and then his little brother, Sam. Like all mums, my children are my world and they give so much meaning, laughter and light to it.

But to my surprise, I’ve also fallen in love with motherhood.

When I was pregnant with Leon, I was a little worried I wouldn’t, to be honest. I’d read the stories and the media does a pretty alarming job at making us feel like our lives are over once we have children. And yes, I suppose in one sense they are. We aren’t as carefree and it sure isn’t easy to do lots of things, anymore. Motherhood is also bloody hard and I know it can be very crap some days. But overwhelmingly, I do love it.

I never thought of myself as maternal, but it turns out I am and so this is exactly where I was supposed to wind up in life – as someone’s mummy. 

Leon and Sam

Being a mum makes me feel complete

I know that’s so corny to say, but it’s true. I feel whole now. I feel like my life has purpose. I feel important because the little people who are so important to me need me. And they need me to stick around. Which is why the thought of ever leaving them scares me to my very core. My husband referred to me as our family’s ‘heartbeat’ in a mother’s day card this year and that’s how I feel. My heart beats for them and I know I hold us together. They are my happiness. They make me who I am now.

I finally feel comfortable in my skin. 

‘Just a mum’

I gave birth to my babies, but in a way they’ve given birth to me. I no longer fret that I’m ‘not enough’. My ego isn’t build on the things I’ve done or how other people perceive me. Instead, I’m proud of the lives I’ve brought into the world and the little people I’m raising. If I feel like I’m doing a good job there, then that’s all that really matters.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for having a career I love, time for myself, pursuing my own thing beyond motherhood and staying in tune with what makes me smile apart from my family, but being a mum for me is number one.    

I feel like I have an identity now and yes, I am lots of things beside ‘mum’, but I’m comfortable identifying with that first and foremost. I feel it’s what I was put on this earth to do.

Lana Hallowes Babyology writer

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