To the mom still trying to find herself,

The days are a blur. You do what is needed of you but not always with a happy heart. You count down the hours until bedtime, or until your husband gets home from work so you can go hide and just breathe. Every day is the same but different, and they all seem to run together. You pay more attention to how your children are dressed than you do about yourself. You do the mental self-check: no spit-up? Check. Am I wearing pants? Check. Did I brush my teeth today? Check. And out the door you go.

You try to do it all, for everyone around you . . . except for yourself. Because She got lost somewhere along this ride we call motherhood. If you saw Her, you wouldn’t even know how to take care of Her at this point. So you ignore it and keep going through the motions. Because who has time to take care of herself? There are babies to take care of, a husband to support, and a house to keep somewhat decent looking. There are dinners, practices, playdates, meetings. No wonder She got lost somewhere along the way.

But I believe a part of motherhood includes keeping a part of yourself. If you forgot to keep Her, you gotta go find Her, Momma. Maybe it’s your old self you find, maybe She’s someone new mixed with the old. Maybe She is someone new completely, but you owe it to yourself to figure out who She is.

Mourning the loss of the old you is OK. Mourning your old life, not knowing you would ever feel this way, is OK. Maybe you prayed for motherhood to happen for you, maybe you didn’t. Pregnancy changed you. Birth changed you. This little miracle sleeping in your arms or crying their head off CHANGED YOU. These chapters of life are supposed to change you. But these chapters are not supposed to lose you.

You don’t see it at first, with the adrenaline of birth, feedings every two hours around the clock, lack of sleep, pure joy, the crippling fear of being a new mother who knows nothing about keeping a baby alive. As the dust settles, you know you love this little baby more than life itself. But you don’t know why you feel a little empty at the end of the day.

There has to be more than being momma. Some women might be fine with just being known as that, dedicating every fiber of their being to being momma. And that’s OK. But it’s not you. And as soon as that thought crosses your mind, you’re flooded with guilt. After all, aren’t we supposed to be selfless? Aren’t we supposed to be more concerned with the needs of others than our own?

How do you know you’re longing to find yourself again? Maybe you stopped breastfeeding because for over a year your body has not been your own. You conceived, housed, and nurtured a baby. You sacrificed things you once enjoyed, and most for good cause. But maybe you needed to feel in control again. Maybe you crib-trained early because co-sleeping was causing you to sleep worse than when you had around the clock feedings. Maybe you count down the minutes until bedtime, or until your husband comes home so you can have a break. Maybe the thing you look forward to most every day is your chance to have some alone time. Maybe you don’t want any more children because the thought of losing yourself, losing control of your body and mental health, is too much to go through again. And this is ALL OK. But it might be pointing to a bigger picture. You might be the type of woman who needs, to your very core, to be more than momma.

So my friend, I encourage you to go find Her. Dig deep. Start with little acts of self-care. What did you used to do to take care of yourself? Read a book, write, do your hair and makeup, buy a new outfit (that doesn’t have a baby bump panel). Take a bubble bath, have a glass of wine, have your husband watch the kids so you can take a nap or get a pedicure. Make food that fuels you, drink some water, take care of that body, try to move it just a little more every week.

It will take time, but She will emerge. You have to lure her out with patience and gentleness.

And do be kind, momma. She’s new here, too.

You may also like:

To the Mama Who’s Forgotten Who She Is

A Mama Isn’t Born, She’s Made

I Thought I’d Be a Better Mom Than This

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Alyssa Hurlbert

I live in Northern California with my husband and our two kids. Writing has always been healing for me, and when my daughter was born 2 years ago I realized my words could be healing for others as well. This motherhood thing is hard sometimes, but we don't have to go through it alone.