Sarah Reinhard reflects on her experience as a mom and shares encouragement for other moms.
I didn't ever think about being a mother and losing my identity before it happened because I was never going to be a mother. But after reading a younger-than-me mom's ponderings a while back about losing her identity, I realized two things:
- I am an Older Mom now. Over a decade-and-a-half into this adventure means it's not my first mom-rodeo anymore. (Nope, sure don't have all the answers. Still. Or ever. And I know it. Also, there is someone to tell me so and remind me, if not in words, then with some incredibly humbling action.)
- Maybe I have lost my identity ... and maybe that's not such a bad thing. In fact, maybe I like my identity much, much better now.
I write to you, Younger, Newer Moms, from this place of experience, from this place of encouragement. I write to you from a place farther down the road of motherhood, holding out my hand to you, with a smile and a cup of coffee and only the very best intention of supporting you on your journey.
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Maybe I have lost my identity - and maybe that's not such a bad thing. In fact, maybe I like my identity much, much better now. #catholicmom
Dear New Mom in the Trenches of Young Motherhood,
When I heard you talking about losing your identity, my heart went out to you. You're at the very hardest point of things, the beginning. But the beginning is such an exciting time, too. (Generally, though, no one thinks that until they're looking back on it.)
The road ahead is so long, and the tunnel you're in so dark. It's hard to tell, sometimes, if that glimmer of light is hope or a train barreling down at you.
Parenting is the hardest important work I've ever done. The hours are grueling, the pay is minimal, and the rewards are eternal. Also, there are a whole group of people laughing all the time, and I can't get over the suspicion that they are laughing at me, that they know something I don't know, that I'm failing because of their mirth.
In the midst of the poopy shirt tales, the pukey headbands, and the interesting color combinations, this crucible of dying to myself in ways I didn't know I could has done something to me. It's something I didn't see coming, couldn't plan for, and still don't fully understand.
After more than a decade of juggling small people and work and household responsibilities, I've become somewhat unrecognizable.
I have more patience for the jerkwads and donkeywipes in the room, but less ability to ignore a baby gumming a smile at me around a fat fist.
I can tune out all manner of screeching, moaning, and whining when it comes from people under a certain age and height requirement.
And suddenly, I can speak to people in phrases and around rabbit trails, picking up pieces of days-old conversations, while typing and folding and driving (though not all at the same time anymore).
I summarize this as "My brain is fried" on most days, but that's a misrepresentation. The truth is, I'm learning, imperfectly, to prioritize differently.
I now understand why people of a certain age will stop and smile at my children in the store, and I hear the longing in the people who tell me to enjoy them while they're little.
That identity you think you lost was just the beginning of who you are. Your kids aren't ruining you, they're helping you stretch and grow to your full potential.
Imagine the greatest work of art you can imagine. The artist didn't reach it all at once. It took layers of paint, hours of work, some mistakes and some diversions.
So it is with us. We have to let go a bit to grab the next rung on the ladder.
Will I ever be the same person again?
And thank God for that!
That person I was? That's not the person I ever wanted to be, though I needed all of this help to realize that.
That person I am now? I'm pretty sure it's but a stop on the way to where I'm going, and I am learning to savor the adventure (kicking and screaming though I may be ...).
Stay strong, and lean in, Mama. You are who God made you to be.
In Christ through Mary,
Copyright 2020 Sarah Reinhard
Image copyright Sarah Reinhard. All rights reserved.
About the Author
When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up read just one…more…chapter. She writes and works in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is part of the team for the award-winning Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, as well as the author of a number of books. You can join her for a weekday take on Catholic life by subscribing to Three Shots and follow her writing at Snoring Scholar.