Five years ago, at the end of a counseling session, my counselor gave me an assignment that forever changed how I viewed myself and motherhood. I was to answer the question, “Who am I?” I spent the next couple of weeks until our next session struggling with my homework, which frustrated me. What kind of person doesn’t know who they are?
Our youngest at the time had started kindergarten, and after being a stay-at-home mom for over a decade, I felt a little lost. It’s one of the reasons I was seeing a counselor in the first place. I didn’t realize my identity was wrapped up in my roles until I struggled to answer the question outside of them (a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter, etc.) It was sobering when I realized everything I listed was contingent on others.
I noticed I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. As women, it’s easy to think that who we are depends on the people around us. We are the keepers of our homes, administrators of all the schedules, and the ultimate project manager. We may enter these roles as adults, but we forget we are still children of God, learning who He created us to be.
It took this simple question to recognize I had begun to sleepwalk through my own life with every diaper change, dirty dish washed, new load of laundry, and every school drop off and pick up. Sometimes, our eyes can be open, our bodies moving, but we still need to fight to be awake to this life He has given us.
We tell ourselves we are the only ones who struggle to feel whole, continuing to carry this thought that weighs us down. Pretending things are fine, numbing when needed. We feel disconnected and long for more confidence, but a genuine dependence on God recognizes the areas we fall short of. We don’t need self-assurance; we need to accept we are already fully known.
3 Things to Remember When You Feel Like You’re Losing Yourself
Often, we look forward to getting married and becoming moms. We don’t anticipate losing ourselves after walking down the aisle and bringing home babies. It’s the kind of thing that sneaks up on us. Sometimes, I wish someone had told me to be on guard, but it’s a normal feeling and one of the ways God uses motherhood to grow us.
I’m a mom of four, ages from sixteen to one, and as a mom to a little again, I’ve learned there are things we can do to help us when the mundane of motherhood has us in a fog. Sometimes, we need a reintroduction to ourselves, and from my experience, it usually coincides with God showing us something we need to remember about Him, too.
- Remember to Refill
I’ve always been the type of mom who is hyper-aware of when our kids are “overtired.” As moms, we know the consequences of this and try to avoid it at all costs. But over time, we become the unrested ones. Then, when given a night out or a couple of hours to ourselves, we don’t even know what we need to relax and refuel.
We need to intentionally make time for what fills us up. I can’t tell you how many times I took myself to get a pedicure only to come home and feel the chaos the minute me and my freshly painted toes walked back in the house. What worked to fill you up in one season of motherhood might not work anymore; always be intentional in looking for the things that fill you up and make you feel refreshed as a mom.
2. Remember Your Capacity
When I first became a mom, I loved throwing Pinterest parties, hosting parties, baking cookies for school, and being the class mom. Now, sixteen years into parenting, I don’t enjoy these things anymore; they feel like one more thing on my to-do list, and I’m the first person to sign up for cutlery or paper plates for a class party.
I used to feel guilty about this. So, instead of getting on Pinterest for the newest cutest cookies, I searched the internet for better routines or systems, thinking I needed to manage my time better. Finally, I realized my capacity during my current season is different than it was back then, and that’s okay. Sometimes, our capacity changes because God is nudging us to use our time differently.
3. Remember Your Calling as a Christ-Follower
Motherhood is a gift, but it is not our only assignment. We do ourselves a disservice and are susceptible to forever feeling unsettled when we align our calling with an ever-changing season. It may be a part of our calling, but we must remember the greatest commission.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
I love being a mom. However, I know the loneliness of feeling unseen. I know what it’s like to feel like it will never be time to pursue your God-given dreams and desires and long for something more. Sometimes, when I’m experiencing a longing, I think of it as an invitation to lean into something new God is trying to show me. What is one thing you can do this week to “lean in ” or to help you stay awake to who you are, even in the middle of the mundane?
Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves encouraging women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband and four kids. You can find more from Sarah at http://sarahnicholswrites.com.