Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Bringing Home Baby: What Do You Wish You’d Known?

Love yourself enough not to lose yourself in motherhood

37
Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

Becoming a mother changes everything … or does it?

Sure, your priorities shift, your sleep changes (yikes!), your body transforms and your heart expands … but what happens to your identity when you cross over the threshold to motherhood?

e1354ada732566d9a29c0ac58c4911419fcfacc8.jpg

(Family selfie!)

When I was pregnant with my first child, someone I very much looked up to told me I would completely lose my identity once I had my baby. “Life as you know it is over. There will be no time for you anymore. Accept it,” she said. I was shocked.

Even though this person was older and had three kids and I was merely pregnant with baby #1, something inside of me said, “No, it doesn’t have to be like that. I love myself and my growing family too much to lose myself.”

As a woman who has always been ambitious and career-driven, I didn’t see why all that I had worked for needed to disappear as soon as I was someone’s mother.

b92adc6f0036d9e836961d4370f2cb19418f0455.jpg

(Loving and taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your kid)

So much of my younger years were spent suffering and searching in unhealthy places because I didn’t have a clear sense of who I was or why I was here. Once I found myself, I realized I really liked myself! Sacred self-care and “me time” became my non-negotiable foundation from which everything else flowed. I was happier than I had ever been, in my work, in my marriage, in my soul. This was a hard-won discovery! This was my anchor, my roots into the earth.

I wasn’t willing to buy into the notion that my identity that I had invested time, money, energy and faith in claiming would simply cease to exist once my baby was born. Sure, it would evolve, but it would not disappear.

And I made my choice NOT to accept that piece of advice that didn’t sit right with me … Or loads of other well-intended advice from friends, relatives, strangers, doctors, experts, magazines, books and the like. And of course, there have been PLENTY of suggestions and pieces of wisdom that have rung true for me in the 6+ years since I’ve been a mother. I’m grateful for it all!

I’m now the proud mama of 3 beautiful children and I’m learning and growing every second of the day. It’s humbling, hilarious, messy and life affirming.

23d9db8663d74f33acc1c089334cd139e88c8ae3.jpg

Motherhood is the most intense personal growth path I’ve ever walked (in addition to marriage and entrepreneurship!). My advice for new moms: listen to your Inner Voice about what feels right for your child, you and your family. You will be receiving contradictory tips and suggestions from here on out. Don’t fret. Go within. Breathe!

Wise beyond measure, you know your child so well. Take time to know yourself deeply, too! This relationship with your sacred self is a profound catalyst for confident and fulfilling parenting even during your toughest days (we all have them!).

Love yourself so much that you’re not willing to lose yourself. Because when you lose yourself, everyone loses. Your family needs you. Most of all, you need you.

So, be kind to yourself. Spend time in nature. Write in a journal. Enjoy a quiet cup of tea in a cup that makes you smile. Move your body. Dance in the shower. Enjoy date night with your partner (even if it’s simply a quiet movie at home after your baby is asleep!). Join a mom’s support group. Bless your mess. Ask for help. Know that you will sleep for long stretches again. I promise!

The days sometimes feel like they stretch on forever, but the years fly by. Enjoy your family!

Jenny Fenig is a mom, wife, coach and author of “Get Gutsy.”

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.