Monday, February 6, 2012

Why Even Mom Needs to Maintain Her Identity

Once they become mothers, some women find it difficult to maintain their sense of self, casting all their energy into a wide net around their children; there’s nothing wrong with this, but moms need to maintain an identity independent of their children. Why?

Because children grow up, become their own people, and leave your net behind.

My son is 12 years old and he is reaching a point where he is looking to Dad for guidance way more than he is looking to Mom. And yet, he is asserting his independence from both of us, preferring to hang out with his friends, shunning silly things like Halloween costumes; and he is completely and utterly embarrassed by everything we do—with or without reason. We’ve reached a point where he requires space and privacy. In four years, he’ll be driving a car; and in six years, leaving for college. If I didn’t have goals and projects of my own, I might be feeling these growing pains even more profoundly.

You can’t pour into your children what you don’t yourself possess.

The best way in which to teach or influence your children is to set a healthy example. You have to know how to be independent—or whatever other adjectives you’d like them to live up to—in order to show your children how to do it. They’ll listen to what we say, but more than that, they are watching what we do and making decisions on whether or not they’d like to do it the same way.

You are more likely to be patient with your children when you’ve had time to yourself.

You can’t be all that your kids need you to be unless you have had space to regroup and recharge. When you’re able to take a beat for some “me” time, and to do something that brings you joy, that energy will spill over into other facets of your life. The positive feelings that you’ve generated by doing something you love that is all your own will help you to be loving and present with your children, as opposed to frazzled and overwhelmed.

We will take on many labels as we navigate through life: daughter, friend, student, wife, mother—but these are just roles that we play. It is important that we each take time to remember who we are outside of those roles and to fight to maintain that essence of who we are. It doesn’t mean that we don’t love our children—it just means that we know we have to be our best selves, in order to be the best moms.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic post, I am a Mom and a few years ago I struggled with my identity. I felt that I was only known as a wife and mother. Eventually I became very depressed... I had to find interests outside of my roles as a wife and mother. I went back to school, got involved in church and started to focus on me. I have begun to journal each night and reflect on who I am as a woman. We all have roles that we play but they do not define who we are.

Thanks again

Kim Jackson said...

Thanks for your comment, Brandy! Journaling is a great way to stay in touch with who we are. I would add yoga and meditation to that mix as well, as things that work well for me.

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