There’s something about becoming a mother that changes everything, or at least in my experience it did. I think we can all agree it changes how you spend your time and your freedoms but for me it changed my dreams, desires, mindset, and even what I thought I wanted my life to look like. To fully explain, I think it makes sense to describe more of who I was before becoming a wife and mother.
My identity before getting married and later becoming pregnant was wrapped up in my career, my friendships, and my freedom to come and go. Life felt easy and exciting and I looked around at the constraints and hardships of motherhood with fear.
To be totally honest, I didn’t grow up with this strong desire to be a mother. In fact, in most of my teenage years and early adulthood I was very vocal that I would be fine if I never had children. It wasn’t just about keeping my selfish lifestyle, but I knew quite well what a heavy weight women carry as the primary caretakers of their children. The self-sacrifice is immense.
I was afraid and unsure that I would be a good mother. I grew up with divorced parents and I feared that for my future and knew I didn’t want to do it alone. I also grew up with friends from divorced families and watched the scars that develop from that.
It became easier to hold on to control of my heart and just not invest for fear of it being broken.
I met my husband, Jeesoung, in 2013 and little by little those fear-built walls began to be knocked down. Jeesoung always wanted to be a father and I knew he would be a great one, so it gave me a huge amount of comfort that I could do this alongside him. I wanted children for him but not necessarily for me. Through a lot of prayer, many long talks and breaking down a lot of walls we were finally starting our family in 2016.
Through most of my pregnancy I was sure I wouldn’t be “one of those women” that losses her life to her kids. “I’ll still do all the things I’ve always done before, but I’ll just have a child.” “The baby will conform to my lifestyle.” Etc. etc.
Society is good at telling women, “motherhood” isn’t enough. And I fed into this lie.
The second our son was in my arms, everything changed for me. Everything. It was a love so unimaginable. It’s so true when people say, “you can’t explain the love you’ll feel until you’re in it.” You can’t. It’s indescribable. Everything I do and say revolves around him. And the truth is I’ve never felt more like myself, than I have as a mother.
In all the ways I was trying to “protect” my identity by not becoming a mother, I was missing out on so much. I’ve now FOUND my identity through motherhood. If I never receive another title, MAMA will be enough for me.
It’s hard to describe the drastic change I went through. It’s not a point in my life I feel most particularly proud of. I was living for myself and striving for perfection.
Things that seemed so important to me before, that I worked for years for, now mean nothing in comparison to our son.
I work outside of the house and so my desire to invest in anything other than him when I’m not at work is very limited.
I leave our house at 5:30 am for work and don’t usually return until around 4:30 pm. That means I get 3 quality hours a day with our son before his bedtime. Those minutes each day and our weekends are incredibly precious to me. I genuinely enjoy having him around as much as possible and I look forward to the day when I can stay home with him every day.
So, to think back on my former life and realize that I almost missed out on all of this (even the hard parts) because of fear, is like a gut punch.
I can say with 100% honesty that I want nothing more in life than to be the best mother for our son and future children. I will change and conform and all the hard things, if it means that their lives will be better.
These feelings may develop and change as we continue to have more children, because the truth is I’ve only been a parent for 15 months, but for now I want to soak it in as much as possible. To learn and grow as a mother. To relish in the good and the bad. To not wish away the hardships and to be present in the few hours a day I get to spend with our little man. To be content in my identity as a mother because I know how precious it truly is and how limited our time currently is at this stage of life.
But you can’t talk about your identity as a mother without admitting the value in investing in yourself. While self-care looks very different now and the time I get to devote to it is very limited, there are still things that help me feel refreshed as a woman and mother:
- Reading/Writing/Prayer – this looks different every day, but prayer, journaling and reading have been huge refreshers for me. And it’s an easy way to take a few minutes a day or that extra hour during naptime to connect with the Lord and rejuvenate my soul.
- Working out – It took about nine months to get back into a regular workout routine. I take opportunities to include him in my workouts or use my lunch hour at work to exercise instead of doing it in the evenings and sacrificing time with him.
- Girls nights – again, these look so different than before. Now, instead of dinner and drinks at our favorite restaurant, we put our babies to bed and meet at each other’s house to catch up over a home cooked meal.
- Date nights – wait…what are these?? Yea, before baby we had multiple date nights a week, now we are lucky to get in one a month alone. But they’re so valuable! We bring our son along about 75% of the time but making special plans together really helps connect us as a couple.
Maintaining a healthy balance in life is so hard. I imagine when I stay home with our son, these will be an even greater challenge but for now because our time is so restricted, I want nothing more than to just be a mom and so a lot of these “self-care” actions still revolve around time with my son.
I want to trust that the place I’m in right now is beautiful, even if it’s messy. That my title as wife and mother, trumps any other earthly title that I may work and strive for. That true joy is found in letting go, even letting go of the identity I thought I wanted. And that a little self-care benefits everyone, even if it looks a lot different than it did before being a mother.
My true identity is in Christ. “Our identity is for the sake of making known His identity” And nothing is more sanctifying than parenthood. It took me a long time to let go and trust in His plan for my life and in that I found an identity greater than what I imagined for myself. Control is a funny thing, once you let go of that control, you actually find freedom. And that’s what motherhood did for me. It gave me freedom and joy and unimaginable love.
I am so thankful for Stephanie’s words and for her sharing her heart so openly. Stay tuned, this entire month I will be bringing stories from a variety of Mamas. If you want to follow along you can find my story here.