Home / Two Little Piggies by Miki Nava / The lost identity

The lost identity

      Arrow Arrow Slider So there I am, sitting with my girl friends having dinner and we are all talking about our ‘previous lives’. As if it was some scene from a movie we had seen. We are all happily married. We are not complaining about our marriages. I know a lot changes after kids but I think in a way my life has just become crazier (and I love craziness). I still travel as much as I used to, or maybe even more, the only difference being I have the kids with me too. I might not go out at night like I used to, but that doesn’t bother me much. Yet we all seem to have this unexplainable frustration inside. I then realise that since having kids I have lost my identity and have been searching for my new identity. I used to be independent, ambitious, single, outgoing, and carefree. I moved from country to country. I was never scared of change, and loved a good challenge. I started a company with a partner and managed an office. I worked hard and loved my job. Fast forward to the present – I have 2 kids and 2 step kids, ages 10, 7, 3 and 2 and I have no clue what I am doing! I am always exhausted thanks to my youngest who doesn’t know the meaning of ‘sleep’. I make ‘rules’ for my kids and then later look at my list of rules and realise I am totally failing at Rule No.1: NO SCREAMING! I try to explain to myself what I’m feeling. You wanted kids, now you have kids. What's there to complain about? Let me try to explain… I have lost my identity. At work if I did a job well, I was rewarded for the hard work I put in. So the self-esteem I gained through my professional life is gone. I am now a stay at home mom. I am not good at my job. I am not good at cleaning, washing, ironing, keeping the house in order and managing everything related to the house. We often run out of milk, or toilet paper, or tooth paste… Shit, why did I have to struggle through all those Finance and Economics classes, they didn’t teach you how to know when to buy toothpaste! I used to support myself, now I do not earn any money and my husband supports the family. I am dependent on him, but cannot even keep the house in order, so for that I feel a failure. I know my husband fell in love with me because I was an independent professional woman. Now he is living with a dependent zombie with food stains all over her clothes. I am not 100% present to my husband and so the self-esteem I gained as a woman is gone. I am trying to find a new, updated identity. I’m basically the same person as I was before so why do I feel so lost and invisible? When you first become a mother you have NO IDEA what you’re doing, everything is a learning curve. As you learn and start to get a grip on one thing, everything changes again and you have to relearn everything. You start to feel frustrated and overwhelmed all over again. The kids are misbehaving and you feel like you did something wrong and that’s why they are not behaving. So as a mother you start to feel like a failure. Do men lose their identity? Mine didn’t seem to. In fact, fatherhood has had a positive effect on him. He has more confidence and self esteem as now he supports the whole family single-handedly. As a father he’s good with the kids and helps me when he’s home, so he feels he’s doing a good job. As a husband he helps me around the house and is more organised then I am so feels helpful. All these are big boosts to his confidence. Where do I go from here? Is there a happy state of mind somewhere in the future? Will I ever go to bed at night feeling satisfied with my daily accomplishments? I know I will eventually adapt to my new identity as a mother/wife/woman but I still feel like everyday is still “baby steps” for me. To other mothers out there who have gone through this same process, what have you done to regain your identity and find your self worth?

26 comments

Mar 27, 2017 • Posted by Katrine Kay Nielsen

You really hit it spot on.
I have always loved being spontaneous, jumped on a plane whenever I got the change, always on new adventures, loved the more extreme sports. I was fearless.
Now…some kind of fear has been planted in my mind, something can go wrong! Before I wouldn’t even think about that.
It is that my kids are always in my thoughts , they come first, I want them to have the best. So instead of only doing my egoistic, head under my arm adventure, I have been tamed….and I don’t like the thought of that. I will never go back to my old self as before, because I have a different mind now. But I do miss my old self and believe when the kids get a bit older and more independent, more freedom comes back and my ego will bloom again.

Mar 27, 2017 • Posted by Carla

Great post Miki, and as a mom of 2 girls, one going off to college, I guarantee, you’ll get there! You just evolve, but it takes time! We’re all there for each other.

Mar 27, 2017 • Posted by Angela Wajner

As a mother of 2 daughters, 17 1/2 & 21, I call the stage you are in “post baby identity crisis.” All mothers go through it at one point and at different degrees too. Then surprisingly, we will go through it again, when our children have left the nest. By nature, women’s actions are lead first by emotion, then logic, hence why we get so frustrated, feel like failures when we take on a task and the results don’t come out as perfect or in the time we envisioned in our minds.

Like you, I worked in a corporate atmosphere, I took care in my appearance, had a wonderful social life, thought with logic, I was responsible for and answered only to ME. Even when I got married, it was pretty much the same, my confidence level and self esteem were very high, and most importantly, I felt I had a purpose. Then came baby number one, holy cow I had no idea how much my life was going to change!! You can read parenting books all day, but they don’t prepare a women for motherhood, or the emotional transformation they will go through, parenting can only be learned through experience.

I was stuck at home exhausted, frustrated, stressed and always struggling to be what I had always pictured was the “perfect mom and wife” but, I was failing miserably….or at least I thought I was. I barely had time to shower, let alone sleep, having an “adult conversation” with my husband, haha just the thought of it makes me laugh now. It got to the point, I had been out of the business world so long, I didn’t even understand what he was saying, nor did I care either….I was too damn tired and just wanted a moment to myself with NO ONE speaking to me. I felt like a shell of a person, just going through the paces to get me to the end of the day so I could go to bed.

So here is the positive and the light at the end of the tunnel of my story, life gets better and you will find you again!! Don’t dwell on what you used to be. You’ll never be that person again, because you are now a mama. You need to reinvent yourself for the present. As my girls got older, less dependent on me, having the time to breathe and think about what I wanted to do, it was like someone had cleaned a fuzzy window pane, I could see clearly again.

I started to crave for something to do that would put my mind to work, where I felt I was contributing to being a real adult again. Since my life revolved around my husband and children, my time was limited, I needed to do something that would fit into the precious few hours my kids were at school. As I was already very involved in the school via the PTO, I took baby steps and added more volunteer work. That eventually evolved into my directing the backstage staff at my daughters dance productions and who would have thought, my becoming a teacher.

It was through working with children, I realized, that even though mothers to young children feel like failures because they’re not doing things as we pictured, or that we have no identities because our lives have become monotonous, we have become nothing more than the housekeeper/nanny……those sentiments are a total farce!! It’s the self pity haze we get from being so exhausted, yet trying to please everyone and ourselves too. Your children are your identity, what you teach them, how you nurture them, the emotional stability you give them, and the biggest job mothers of young children have is preparing them for life. You are the first person to introduce them to everything and making decisions for them. Your identity is to be the role model, protector, and person you want your girls to become.
As they get older, and you get more time, you will reinvent yourself again, you’re an author of a popular blog sharing your experiences and helping other readers, while being a mom to four children, that in itself is a huge leap to reclaiming your self confidence and the new you. In the far future, you’ll be like me, reinventing yourself again through the empty nest and middle age stage. For now, even though you get frustrated and angry with yourself, just know you’re not alone, I’ve spent many hours with your girls and you’re doing a brilliant job raising them, while finding the a new exciting path of purpose for you in the process. Stay strong and keep doing you. <3

Mar 27, 2017 • Posted by Mia

Great post. I love the honesty in this and I know loads of mothers that will relate. I think for me I decided that what I was doing was actually the most important thing I could be doing right now and although I often feel inadequate – I also often forget to buy toilet paper .. Tea bags .. Milk .. You name it – I realised that when I was with my son there is no place that I would rather be .. . Ever job has its good days and it’s bad days but If I tried to imagine myself sitting behind my old desk (with my old professional life) I couldn’t see myself happy. That made me realise that I hadn’t lost anything, I was still me I was just deciding that my value was based on what I thought of myself and not what others thought I should be doing and that as long as my baby was loved unconditionally and cared for by me I was doing a bloody good job .. No matter how chaotic the day may have seemed. Two top tips that helped me were sleep and exercise. When I don’t do either of these properly I start to feel awful about things and when I get enough of both of them life is back on track. No one can feel whole without enough sleep and its hard to feel great when your not happy in your own skin. Major exercise plan, literally boosted my self esteem and made me realise that I was there all along … I was just covered by a lot of extra late night banana bread eaten whilst breastfeeding! Basically finding a way to put yourself first again (even for a little while) makes you feel more valued and love yourself again for who you are.

Mar 27, 2017 • Posted by Miki Nava

Yes, I think once I am able to SLEEP everything will become a lot more clear!

Mar 27, 2017 • Posted by Cecilia

Miki, everything you wrote is spot on!!!

I truly believed I have the perfect life and yet my husband often tells me that he feels I’m not happy and I have to agree with him. I never understood how I can feel my life is perfect (there is nothing I want to change) and yet I still feel “blah” about life until I read your post! I have lost my old identity too!

I gained so many new identities (wife, mother, work from home business woman) in such a short span of period, I feel I can barely keep up with everything! I hope as time passes, I will slowly be able to find my new identities again and be truly “ME” again!

Mar 27, 2017 • Posted by Mati

Okay, I cried reading your post.
I was a heck of a worker (50 hours per week easily), I slept 4/6 hours per night tops, I went out every night, I did tons of sports.
I married, I have a wonderful 16 m.o. little boy with me… Six months ago I moved to a different country, I am struggling trying to understand what to do when I grow up. I am currently a home bound mom (and it’s not that I don’t like it) who sends her son to nursery school for the sake of interaction and personal growth and wonders where the other ME went.

I am my expat husband’s wife.
I am my son’s mother.
Who am I to me?

In psychological terms… that’s a toughy!

Oh, I love Kiana’s “chickens idea”.

Mar 27, 2017 • Posted by Kiana

Totally relate. Spent a good 5 years in this crisis. From Caribbean Sales Manager to stay at home mom in a foreign country! Those years were tough and felt very lonely. It’s good that you acknowledge it, reach out and realize that it is a totally normal process that most professional, working women go through in the transition. I used to think the key was to regain my former identity. Totally wrong. I needed to find my new identity. The new me. Trail running, traveling, gardening, chickens, ducks (we are about to hatch 8 ducklings)…these have all played a huge part in finding the new me and I love her :). And along with that newfound happiness in rediscovering myself, comes an entirely new perspective on life and family that I never had before. I am so grateful to be in the position I am right now. So, to sum it up…chickens. It all starts with chickens ;)

Mar 27, 2017 • Posted by Naho

Thanks for writing this, Miki. It really makes you think, though that maybe it’s not really a loss of identity but a gain of or a change to another one. I guess anytime you change identity, there is always a time of adjustment. I am in the midst of this too, although I don’t have 4 kids, I only have 1. And like someone said in earlier comments that it will get easier with time. I keep telling myself that they are only this little for a short time. Soon they are going to go off doing their own thing and we’ll have to adjust to that too. I hope you can have a full nights rest soon. Hang in there, I’m rooting for you.

Mar 27, 2017 • Posted by Miki Nava

I agree, I need to find my new identity that I am happy with! I know it will happen, it’s just a matter of time. By the way, R has ordered a house for the chickens….. he has won this battle it seems.

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