I sat uneasily on the edge of a green couch with colorful pillows and talked about myself. I am a mom to two amazing kids ages 7 and 4. I have a wonderful husband. And, yes, motherhood is the most difficult job I have ever had. This includes my former life as a journalist that had me in many high-pressure situations.

I have interviewed presidents and celebrities, but nothing makes me sweat more than trying to defuse a toddler tantrum in public or trying to determine whether the brown mystery stain on the bathroom floor is chocolate . . . or not.

Motherhood is not for the weak of heart. For most stay-at-home moms like me, it means balancing everyone’s needs, often ahead of our own. After awhile, that gets old. if you are not careful, motherhood will consume your identity and you will, like me, land on a therapist’s couch.

“I’ve heard so much about your kids and your family. What about you? Who are you?”

It was the first time since becoming a mother that I thought about myself outside of being the caretaker of my human babies.

Who am I?

Before kids, I had a career-driven plan: working journalist, Pulitizer Prize, then marketing at a non-profit for a cause for which I would wear pearls to work every day like Audrey Hepburn.

When I became pregnant with my son, I pivoted a little: stay home with him for enough time to hire a nanny so I could get back on track. That was the plan until I met my son.

Cradling that little life for the first time on my chest awakened a primal side: the 24/7 mom, a chest-beating beast known to yell, “I will never leave you!” I didn’t want to miss a moment or a milestone.

I did go back to work for a few months, but would often call home and cry quietly while listening to my son babble over the whomp, whomp, whomp of the breast pump. My husband and I agreed it wasn’t going to work out. I needed to quit my job and put my career on hold.

On my last day of work, I rushed home to put down my box of personal items cleaned out of my office to pick up my son and dance around the room. I felt relief. I felt like a princess who just had her wish granted.

Seven years later, the dance is over, my princess dress is in tatters and I feel like I am drowning in a laundry abyss. Without me being aware, my stay-at-home fairy tale had become a cautionary tale.

Every day I prepare, fix, mediate, clean and console. End the day with kisses and I love yous and start over again. I catch vomit with my bare hands and try really hard not to outwardly cringe when I hear, “Mom, look at this!” for the 100,000 time. End. Repeat. Until my one and only identity is mom.

Working parents are the traditional superheroes we know and love—they change out of their parent costumes outside of their homes and walk among adult society as civilians.

We stay-at-home moms have the same superhero costume for Target runs, play dates and date nights. We are the legion of leggings-wearing, messy bun moms you see trying to get through the day. It’s an identity hard to shed unless you let yourself want more.

For the first time since becoming a mom, I want more. I love being a mom, but I also want to be a sexy woman, an informed citizen about news and pop culture, a good friend to a gaggle of girls, and a creative woman with an outlet.

I want to be seen as more than mom.

I have started writing more and finding patches of time during naptimes and camps to connect with my creative self. The journey, although scary at times, has been exhilarating—like I am dating myself. And heck, I am finding that I like myself.

You may also like:

There’s No Glory in Motherhood

You Are So Much More Than “Just” a Mom

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Lynda Lin Grigsby

Lynda Lin Grigsby is dating her whole self in a suburb of Los Angeles.

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