It’s difficult to become a mom. This hard transition is often overlooked by ‘the miracle of birth’ and assumptions such as ‘if you love your child then of course you love being a mom’. However, entering motherhood can be exhausting and even terrifying. Many new mothers wake up one day and realize they have changed. And they may not know who they are anymore.
Motherhood could overshadow a person’s sense of self, and Ana Carina K. Morales captured these feelings in her post on Smart Parenting.
I Chose to Become a Mom… Then I Lost My Sense of Self
“It’s been five years since I became a mother,” writes Morales, “and I’m still in transition — a difficult one. I’m caught between who I used to be and the person that I’ve become today…
“Now, I feel like I’ve become an entirely new person. Since I gave birth to our firstborn, Bea, I’m starting not to recognize myself. I am now known as Bea’s mom or Norbert’s wife. I feel like I’m losing, me, Ana.” 
With the change of routine, she could no longer dance for fun in the mornings like she used to. She can’t read an entire book in one day. Little things she used to pride herself on — things that composed her identity — fell to the wayside to make way for her child.
“I forgot that I was once someone who can dance like a fool and shine like gold. Now my ‘90s playlist has been collecting cobwebs to give way to songs from My Little Pony and have ‘Let It Go’ on loop.”
Aside from the change of schedule and pastimes, there’s a lingering thought that plagues so many mothers: “I could be so much more than being just a mom.”
That doesn’t mean that these mothers would give away their position. As Morales writes, “Don’t get me wrong. Most of my days as a mother are good — I chose to be a mom. But there are days when I ask the question, ‘What happens to my personal plans now?’”
Jobs and similar pursuits take up a lot of time and create a sense of identity. When moms say goodbye to their careers to begin a family, they lose something that had defined them. And motherhood is something new, unfamiliar, and unattached to their previous identities. This could cause feelings of emptiness and a loss of self. 
“I know in my heart that I am where I’m meant to be,” writes Morales. “But I can’t shake the feeling that I feel less of the person I once was now more than ever. The sense of emptiness deepens when the little one would sometimes say not such beautiful things to me when I don’t allow her to use the iPad.”
Stop Thinking Less of Yourself
This identity crisis is furthered with mommy guilt. Moms may feel a need to be a superhero because if they ‘fail’ at mothering, what are they good for anymore?
Then there’s the exhaustion that comes with taking care of a little one. So often, there’s no time for the mother to take care of herself at the end of the day. The lovey-dovey relationship with the spouse becomes consumed with concerns of the child. The texts become focused on the little one instead of emoji hearts and “luv you”s.
However, there’s no mother switch that turns on as soon as a woman gives birth. Mothering skills need to be learned and practiced, and part of that includes an identity refresh to include the new role. And how to include self-care amidst the child-care.
“I have to stop looking back at who I used to be,” concludes Morales. “What is important is who I am now. I should stop feeling sorry for myself because I’m doing something substantial.
“Maybe who I am right now is still me, but it is the me who thinks less of myself. I should not focus on the things that I’ve given up, but on things that I’ve gained — more time to love and teach.”
How to Regain a Sense of Self After You Become a Mom
It’s normal for a mother to feel overwhelmed in her new role and realize she has changed since giving birth. Motherhood does shift your life in so many ways, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself among the busyness.
Here are six tips to help you rediscover yourself after you become a mom. 
Yes, it’s an obvious answer, but it’s also the one people tend to neglect the most. You may be so busy looking after your family, you stifle your own needs, including basic things like sleep and proper nutrition. However, this will result in you having no energy for anything. You can only give your kids the best when you are taking proper care of yourself.
2. Set simple goals.
Make a list of the things you’d like to do — like joining a baking class, seeing a movie, hiking — and make a plan to incorporate these pleasurable things into your life. Take your time with it, especially if your kids are small. You may not be able to complete your list right away, but as long as you are doing things you enjoy, you’re doing it right.
3. Connect with your spouse, family, and friends.
You may be feeling isolated with your main companions being an infant or a toddler. Carve out some time to socialize, whether it’s video calls with grandma, date nights with your spouse, or coffee with some friends.
4. Stop comparing.
Making comparisons is the best way to sap happiness out of your life. Avoid comparing yourself to others. Also, stop comparing yourself to your past self. Instead, take in your current situation and find joy in what you have right now.
5. Ask for help.
There’s no shame in it. Reach out to friends and family members when you need assistance and even hire cleaning ladies and babysitters to lighten the load. You don’t have to do everything.
6. Above all, be kind to yourself.
- “I Happily Chose Motherhood, But I Don’t Recognize Myself Anymore.” Smart Parenting. Ana Carina K. Morales. June 15, 2018
- “New Mothers, Let’s Talk About Your Professional Identity Crisis.” Harvard Business Review.Janna Koretz. August 19, 2020
- “How to Rediscover Your Sense of Self in Motherhood.” Very Well Family. Sherri Gordon. August 3, 2020