As a mom, it becomes all too easy to let that role define who I am. To define myself by my relationships with other people. To see myself as a mother, a wife, a daughter – rather than just me. I still remember the day one of my psych professors asked the class to write down a list of who they are. Studies have shown that women are significantly more likely than men to identify themselves through their relationships, and that certainly held true for me. Although the activity made the difference clear, it also made me feel like there was something wrong with my choices and perceptions.
The more I think about it though, I don’t think there is anything wrong with defining oneself through their relationships, as long as that is not all there is. Humans are social creatures, and our connections to each other are one of the things that makes life worth living. Also, the fact of the matter is that regardless of how I see myself, as a mother, that relationship takes up a significant amount of my daily life. The trick, I think, is to find ways to make time for myself as well.
I was 19 years old when I got pregnant with my oldest child, 20 when he was born. As a teenager, I was so focused on academic achievement, and making sure that I could get into a good school, that I didn’t have a whole lot of time for self-discovery. I was too busy trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be. I’ve never been very good at not caring about what others think about me. I moved from a people-pleasing childhood, into motherhood and again my focus was always on meeting the needs of someone else (my child, and of course it was very worth it).
I was a young single mother and a college student, trying my hardest to succeed in school, support myself and my son, and raise that son. For a long time, I was in survival mode.
Now, I have reached a point in my life where I am comfortable, and no longer fighting to survive. For once, I have the luxury of taking the time to ponder who I am. With a pandemic, remote learning, quarantines, homeschooling – and trying to make sure that my children have healthy and happy childhoods despite the craziness of the world, I have realized that I didn’t really take the time to do anything for myself this past year. Not even write – which I think is key to my own mental well-being.
So, off the top of my head: Who Am I?
I am a mother of two wonderful children, ages 11 and 4.
I am a writer. Writing feeds my soul, and when I neglect it, that is when I lose sight of myself.
I am a holder of degrees in psychology and social work from highly regarded schools – something that constantly makes me feel guilty for being a stay at home mom. Am I somehow wasting those degrees that I worked so hard for when I am not working in a paid role as someone’s therapist? I struggle with that question constantly, and yet when the world shut down suddenly, it was such a relief that I didn’t have to scramble to make sure my children were cared for while also balancing work.
I am now a homeschooling parent, as remote learning led to my discovery that my son could really thrive in the home environment, and I have thrown the majority of my energy into homeschooling over the past year.
I am someone who wants desperately to make a difference in the world and help others. I struggle with being a stay-at-home mom, not because I feel the need to bring in more money, but because I want to help others and make a difference beyond my immediate family.
I am exhausted and finally learning how to say no. Right now, in this stage of my life, as much as I want to help others and make a difference – I often don’t have enough emotional energy at the end of the day to do all that much outside my family, my home, and my close community. I have always had a habit of taking on a little more than I can handle and never saying no to more tasks and responsibilities – but I am now reaching a point where I realize that it is okay to set those boundaries and say no for now. Eventually, I will have the energy to tackle all those other things and and make a true difference in the world outside of my family – just not now, when I still can’t get a full night’s sleep and always seem to have children clinging onto me.
I am a lover of books, books have been a bright spot in the world for me since I was young. There is nothing more relaxing for me than curling up somewhere (ideally outside) with a good book and just slipping into the world between the pages. I have plans to eventually turn my sun room into a library, and I can’t wait until I can make that dream a reality. One day, I hope that I will write a book that will inspire others that same way that books have inspires me, or maybe just be the welcome break from reality that someone so desperately needs.
I am a lover of animals, the outdoors, and so much more.
I am a people-pleaser, as much as I don’t love that trait in myself, I always seem to find myself trying to please others – though I am trying more and more to stay true to my authentic self and not bottle that up inside, regardless of what others think.
I am a person who spends a great deal of time living inside my own head. That really goes along with the people-pleasing aspect of myself.
Who I am as a person cannot be so easily summed up into a few words. I could go on and on, but I have an 11 year old pacing around me, waiting for me to help him bake a cake. Words are wonderful things, but no simple words can truly capture the essence of a person. And that’s okay. If I had to choose just two words to describe myself it would be a mom and a writer – and I am pretty happy with those two words. Regardless of what anyone else might think.
Day 2 of attempted blogging streak