Perspective on Parenting: Dealing With the Loss of Identity After Becoming a Parent

The other morning I was out for a walk with my mom. We were talking about life, struggles, and the like. I was telling her about how I feel that parenting is really humbling. You go into it with all of these preconceived notions about how things are going to be, and what kind of parent you are going to become. You think that things won’t be so hard, because you have a plan. But things don’t go according to plan.

All the beautiful blog posts you’ve saved to Pinterest from all the super-moms who seem to have their whole life together. It’s part of your plan. You will have a beautiful seamless life, you will be a super-parent just like all those bloggers. But you don’t and you aren’t. Because in your excitement and ambition of wanting to be a good parent, and raise the perfect kid, there’s something that you forgot about.
Sure, you know to some extent that your life is going to change. You know you’ll be very tired. But it’s so much more than that. The emotional toll of giving 100% 24/7 is immeasurable. You fall apart, you don’t feel like you have an identity anymore, you feel like you’ve lost yourself.

What’s worse is that there are so many people who want to judge how you parent. The shame posts you see on the parenting forums that condemn certain ways of parenting are seemingly never-ending. Judging people for using a harness, screen time, cry-it-out, or not having eyes on your kid at every waking moment. Taking a few minutes to look at your phone while your kid plays generates comments from passers-by. It feels like all eyes are on you, and holding you to their own standards of what you should be.

People forget when you are a mom (moms get this way more than dads (moms get this way more than dads) that you are a person of your own. People judge like you have no right to any time to yourself. They’ll judge a messy house, yet condemn you for cleaning while your kid is left to their own devices.

Eventually though, you are able to regain control; but you have to lower your expectations for yourself.  And it takes a while, but you need to parent like people aren’t watching. You’ve got to stop feeling ashamed of taking time for yourself. For me, it took some time before I began to think “You know what? Maybe I’m not a crummy mom for letting my kid watch a couple episodes of Paw Patrol while I take a moment to myself.”

I was so hung up on the idea that any screen time was going to ruin my daughter. But one day she was sick and had no energy. She needed to be entertained, but didn’t have the energy to play. Gear and I were sick too, and didn’t have the energy to entertain her either. So we watched Moana. And you know what? Her brain didn’t melt out of her ears. She didn’t want to stop going outside or stop playing. And I realized that I could use this to take some me time in the future.

The thing is, as a parent, you’ve got to look after yourself. It’s not shameful to ask for help sometimes. You aren’t weak for needing a break. You are good enough. And you know what? Your kid won’t be perfect, but they’ll be perfect to you, and you can bet your butt that as they grow, they will want you to be happy. Your kid would be mortified when they grow older if they found out that your life basically stopped when you had them. So for your sake, and your family’s sake, go on a date! Enjoy your hobbies! Get stuff done! I promise, things will look up.