Why did it take me so long? You’d think I’d be happy to ditch my office duds for 24/7 yoga pants and to be playing with my kids all day instead of playing with a multitude of open windows on my office computer! The truth is, I suffered from a bit of an identity crisis this past year. I didn’t realize this until very recently when I took back my “I”dentity.
“I”dentity? you’re thinking. “Did someone steal your social security number? Isn’t your identity a permanent part of you?” Well yes, it is. But 5 years ago when my oldest daughter was born I also took on a “Mom”dentity. My “mom”dentity is all things pertaining to my children- what defines me as a mother. I’ve got their likes and dislikes memorized. I know that my oldest has a “yogurt spoon” and a “cereal spoon.” I know that my youngest has to take her Honey Sunshine cereal out of the box herself. I take them to their activities and watch with pride as they learn to dance, play soccer, or swim. Their triumphs are my triumphs and their disappointments are my disappointments. In their world, I am known as their mom. The pediatrician’s office doesn’t even know my name! I’m referred to as “Adelyn’s mom” or “Teagan’s mom.”
I loved it. I embraced my “mom”dentity with passion and intensity. When I was with my girls, I was 100% there and committed. At work where I was known as Beth or “BG”, as my co-workers nicknamed me., I was also there and committed. I had a position that provided me with an outlet for creativity and an avenue to be known for something other than being a mom. It provided a piece of my “i”dentity. When meeting someone or making small talk, I was able to chat about both myself and my kids.
That changed last year when I left my job to be at home full-time with my kids. I was ecstatic! I was going to go from seeing them an average of 4 hours a weekday to 24/7 mommy time. My first day at home with them was spent doing whatever we wanted and doing it on a whim. I had nowhere else to be but with my girls! We continued like that for a while – and then I started to feel trapped. It was all about the kids all the time, so I didn’t really have much else to say other than what my oldest ate for lunch and what my youngest ate off the sidewalk on our morning walk. My Facebook page even listed me as a “former” Marketing Communications Manager. My “mom”dentity had swallowed my “i”dentity.
I started to feel guilty for feeling trapped. After all, this was the life I had wanted! I was supposed to be on cloud nine. Then I started to panic and thought, what did I have to offer besides knowing that my toddler can draw a circle? Then I received an email from an old co-worker asking if I’d be interested in doing some freelance work for a colleague. They remembered my skill set and had confidence in me to do the job because they knew my “i”dentity. I jumped at the chance to be back in business (both literally and figuratively). I sat down to write that first bit of advertising copy and immediately felt happy. My freelance work became my outlet and was a part of me that was not immersed in my kids. It gave me confidence to continue writing as both a hobby and a paid position. It inspired me to take my first dance class in several years because I wanted to have more activities that were a part of “me”. I was reclaiming my “i”dentity and back to loving my “mom”dentity.
A fellow SMB contributor gave me my “aha” moment when she remarked how all moms are multi-faceted, they all “do something else,” but most of the time you never know it. She’s right. Most of the time we just chat about motherhood and our kids, but there’s another side to each of us. We are all great mothers who are dedicated to our kids, but we are more. All moms have an “i”dentity whether they realize it or not. It does not have to be job-related. You could be an awesome crafter, an avid runner, book club member, baseball super fan, a Walking Dead fanatic… anything that you have a desire to do and enjoy. Next time you meet a mom, find out about her “i”dentity rather than just her “mom”dentity. You’ll likely have even more in common!