After I entered motherhood, I let my identity slip away from me. Not all at once, but little by little. I was too busy. Too proud to ask for help. Too uncertain to stick up for myself. I took on too much. I let my own needs take a back seat to everyone else’s. The scariest part of it all was that I did not realize it was happening.
For so many years my identity centered around labels. I was a teacher, a mom, a wife, a housekeeper. I was no longer Jacie. I struggled to fulfill all the roles I thought I was supposed to fill.
It has taken a long time. But I finally have found myself again.
I have found balance. I have found joy. I was blessed this past year to be able to stay at home with my daughter. I was able to focus on her and myself. I had time to just breathe. I rediscovered what filled my bucket. What made me feel alive. What made me feel like myself. And I was able to figure out who I was inside this thing called motherhood. And I am terrified to lose it all again.
This year, going back to work—even part-time—I worry. I worry about the normal things when starting a new job: learning my responsibilities, being successful, and getting along with colleagues. But more than that, I worry about disrupting the equilibrium that I have fought so hard for this past year.
I fear pieces of me fading away as my plate overflows once again.
I don’t want to go back to that place where there is no room for me.
Where I am not even sure who I am outside work, motherhood, and all of the labels.
I don’t want to be stressed all of the time and snapping at my loved ones. I want to be loving and happy and fun to be around. I want to have energy and not spend every day on the brink of exhaustion. I want to have time for exercise and rest. And I do not want to constantly feel alone and overwhelmed.
I want to keep pursuing the passions that bring me joy. I want to enjoy cooking dinner for my family, putting away their laundry, and keeping the house clean for all of us. I want to have the stamina and desire to play with my daughter on the floor and read her books at night. I want to be silly and play pretend without worrying about my growing to-do list.
I want to be flexible and let go of control. I want to be less wrapped up in details and more present in the moment and the experiences around me. I want to make intimacy (both emotional and physical) a priority with my husband. I want him to feel important, loved, and desired. And I want to feel important, loved, and desired.
I want it all, and I want to enjoy it all.
But is that even possible? I worry it is not. Can I have my career, my family, and my passions? Am I the only one in this struggle? Do all mothers feel this way, or all women for that matter? Perhaps we just need to pay more attention. Maybe we need to acknowledge it’s hard to have it all before we can start working toward a more balanced life.
So this time I will make a commitment to myself for it to be different. This time I will reach out for support when I need it. This time I will trust that God will guide me. This time I will rest when I need to, guilt-free. This time I will love all life has to offer, instead of resenting it.
I will still worry, and probably always will, because I’m a mother and a woman. But I will remind myself that I am also so much more. And that just because I worry, I don’t have to stop living. And if I stay aware, I can have it all! And that is a wonderful thing.