Have you seen the titles? The instagram captions? They are meaningful and honest and well-intentioned.
How to not “lose yourself” in motherhood, or why you shouldn’t “lose yourself” in motherhood.
I’m not sure where this idea came from that motherhood inherently makes you lose part of who you really are? Does motherhood change you? Yes, definitely. Is that inherently bad? No. Is motherhood sometimes all-consuming. Yes. Is that wrong? No. Does motherhood define you in many ways? Totally! Does that make you less of a woman? Absolutely not!
It saddens me that many of the very women who seem to praise and love motherhood, are also belittling it by suggesting that in order to stay true to yourself you can not give your whole self to the task. I do not believe that is the case.
After all, the same can be said for any phase of life. You can “lose yourself” in school and studying or in your career and work, or in a marriage. I think it is the word lose that really gets on my nerves. If you are lost then that means you are confused about which way to go, you are unsure, you have no direction.
That’s not really what we are talking about here. What we are talking about is self-denial, yet also self-realization.
If I have always been a creative person, and then I become a mom and I use my creativity to plan a super adorable first birthday party, have I “lost myself” in motherhood? Or, rather, have I just used a part of my personality to benefit my children? If I love photography and my children become my main subjects, have I “lost myself” in motherhood, or am I just using my gifts for the people that are most important to me.
It seems to me that motherhood often makes us MORE of who we are, rather than detracting from us. The difference is that we are no longer using our gifts, interests and abilities to merely serve ourselves. We are using them to serve our children and our families. The world says this makes us less of a woman and that we are “wasting” our talents or we are “losing” ourselves. I disagree. Who we give our all for or where we choose to demonstrate our personalities is not what matters. It doesn’t change the worth.
A woman who sings beautiful grammy-award worthy lullabies to a crying infant is not less worthy than the woman on the stage. A woman who cooks gourmet meals for a husband and hungry children is not more lost than a woman who constantly serves strangers in a five star restaurant. A woman who paints murals on the nursery wall for her coming child rather than for a museum is not wasting her talents. She is still herself. She is not lost. Her personality has not changed. Rather it has more purpose.
If daily learning to deny myself and to serve my family is considered “losing myself” to motherhood, then so be it. I am happy to be lost. This “loss” has grown me and shaped me and fulfilled me more than any other pursuit of my life. It is harder and lonelier than many other experiences I have had. But, it is life-changing, eternal work I am doing.
After all . . .
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” philippians 3:8
So, mamas. Don’t feel like what you are is not enough. Be who you are IN your motherhood, not outside of it. Tap dance in the kitchen, dress your children in the latest fashion, hike and travel with your kids, do what you love and be who you are FOR them and don’t be ashamed of it.
Real life photo of my motherhood, and just for fun . . . a LINK to a post on this same topic that I wrote very shortly after my first daughter was born.