The Purpose Beyond Motherhood
Motherhood is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s given me a sense of purpose and meaning outside of living just for myself. That being said, I’ve found, like many other mothers, that motherhood can also be overwhelming and honestly a bit distracting from other passions you may have pursued prior to diving head first into mom life. For many women like myself, who have taken that incredibly scary leap into being a stay at home mom and especially a homeschooling stay at home mom, you can have a tendency to kind of lose your sense of self. Everything suddenly is about the kids and your family instead of email inbox politics and office water cooler drama. Your project management skills suddenly shift from navigating the best sales proposals for your team to negotiating what constitutes a “bite” of broccoli with your toddler.
Now before I go any further into this, I am by no means complaining about being able to be a stay at home mom. I love the fact that I have this opportunity to be home with my children and to educate them. No, what I want to bring up here is the question that many women have, and that’s…How can we have a sense of purpose or fulfill our passions outside of motherhood?
How do you rediscover your identity, without neglecting the family?
This can be kind of a touchy subject. I think for many women, motherhood is their ultimate purpose in life. They’ve dreamed about it since they were children and that is absolutely awesome. These women rock their motherhood title like no body’s business, and that’s great. For many other women, they wrestle with the idea of losing their identify and find that exploring passion projects beyond mom life can be a bit of a challenge. There’s no right or wrong way to wear the mom badge, everyone is going to have a little different experience based off of what exactly they are wanting to do.
Let’s face it, being a woman is complicated. Being a mom is even more complicated. We are professionals with well-established careers. We are entrepreneurs with a desire to go out and create something new and watch it blow up. We are lovers, wive, and free-spirited individuals. We have many different hats to wear, and sometimes wearing them all seems impossible. So how do we do it all?
I’ve always had a desire to help people. Growing up, I always wanted to be either a physician or nurse practitioner. I loved medicine, and to me, that was the ultimate way to help people. I went to high school and actually managed to graduate with my Certified Nursing Assistant license and became a Patient Care Technician shortly after my first child was born. Sadly things were derailed a bit for me after a car accident and lifting heavy patients was just no longer an option. Add in the lack of time I had from working to attend college, and I sadly abandoned my goals for a desk job, still within medicine but working on the back end helping with insurance and billing and EDI. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing, but I was still helping people which I enjoyed.
When I became pregnant with baby number 3 is when I made the leap to being a stay at home mom, and shortly after that was when I noticed that my passion for helping others was slowly dwindling, and I became consumed by the day to day work of being a mom. It wasn’t until just recently that I realized how far on the back burner I had placed myself and my passions and realized above all, I had lost my identity and I needed to make some changes.
Everything I had once loved… music, reading, hanging out with friends had all been pushed aside, and I had allowed myself to be overwhelmed by motherhood. So what do I do about this? How can I get back into all of those things that I once found purpose in and incorporate them into motherhood?
The short and not so sweet answer is “you can’t” and the longer answer is “it’s complicated”. Every mother’s journey back to self discovery is different, we’re all like snowflakes…maternal snowflakes. Just like Simba’s vision of Mufasa telling him to “remember who you are”, a simple spark is often all it takes to start realizing “hmm, maybe I need some me time”. And frankly, the ultimate answer here is time. Your husband or partner wants you to be happy, and if they’re worth keeping around, they’ll graciously help you by lending this precious commodity of time to help rediscover your pre-mom roots, after all who you “were” is who they fell in love with the first place.
While I don’t have all the self discovery answers, for me I really enjoy self improvement – going to the gym, exploring new music, and reading. Starting the long process of reshaping my body after my five little lovely monsters wrecked it during 45 total months of pregnancy has proven to be a great catalyst for me. As an accompaniment to my workouts I’ve rediscovered music I haven’t listened to since high school and listened to new audiobooks from my favorite authors. For someone else, the answer may be to enroll in college and slowly works towards a degree. Or setting aside time for themselves to go to a library and read as many books on physics as they can to self educate in a subject or to further their education. For others, it may be, finally making themselves take culinary classes or just practice a specific culinary style until they’ve perfected it because they have a passion for cooking or baking. Or traveling around the world seeing as much of the world as you can, children in toe.
The important thing though is to understand that it is perfectly okay to have a passion that lies outside of motherhood. To have and to fulfill a purpose other than just raising children. This is going to look different for everyone. The road may be steep and at times feel overwhelming, but for you to be the best mother that you can be for your children. For you to be able to set the best example for your children as possible, you need to be able to live your life with a sense of purpose and satisfaction that one can only get by fulfilling their own passions.