Identity and Motherhood

When you become a mother, something inexplicable happens.  I’ve mentioned this before in a previous post, and on my Instagram, but your identity changes.  For me it wasn’t overnight, but instantly there was that sense of overwhelming unconditional love when my daughter was born.  It’s so cliché but it’s cliché because it’s true.  Instantly there is another human in the world who you would give your life to save, and she doesn’t even know your name (yet).

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What happens later, though, is an identity change. There’s a shift, because now there is a completely helpless human at your whim.  It can be difficult to come to terms with–especially in the first few weeks. Just a few short days ago you could go out to a movie and dinner on a moment’s notice. You didn’t care if the dogs barked at the door, if only so as not to annoy you. Your body, though changed immensely, wasn’t recovering from anything. You slept through the night and only awakened because your pregnant belly was pressing on your bladder.

You’ve lost this sense of an independent identity. It’s gone, and it will never come back.

Instead, you’ve gained something…well, so much more. You’re filled up with love for this tiny human in your arms. Because they are so dependent on you, you switch into a routine of caring, feeding, changing, bathing, repeat–and although they have taken your heart prisoner, you have Stockholm Syndrome and aren’t interested in getting set free.

Eventually as the years pass and my daughter gets older, I’ll get more of that freedom back, but it will come at a price. I imagine it will come at the cost of less cuddles, more of her own personal freedoms, pushing boundaries, curfews, and sleeping over at friends’ houses.

I’m not sure I’ll ever want to make that trade, but I’m sure it’s inevitable.