Having a baby shakes up your world on both a practical level and a deeply emotional level. I found that it wasn't just my daily life and relationships that had changed, but my very identity as well.
Before I had my first baby, I thought I knew myself reasonably well: my faults, failures, and where I excelled. I thought I knew my good and bad points, but these were now all suddenly magnified and tested as I was pushed to my limit and then just a bit further.
The things about me that I could hide I suddenly came face to face with: my selfishness and need for comfort and independence, but even more was my lack of confidence in this new role.
Before, I would doubt myself and indulge in low self esteem, but now this has major implications as there is a tiny person wholly dependent on me. The pressure is intense to be the best for our kids. As a parent, you're not only dealing with your own crazy emotions (and I mean crazy), but you also have this constant nagging question in your mind: Am I a good enough mother?
You forget who you are for a while and become consumed by this one tiny little person. Sometimes, I looked to other mothers for comfort, but would find myself comparing myself to them. Then I would come away feeling much worse, having decided that they must be doing it better.
In this time of very early motherhood, I felt I was losing my sense of self. I was getting lost in nap-times and the perfect nap length, dealing with feeding and soothing day after day. If one thing went wrong, if a nap-time came too late or wake-time too early, my entire day would be ruined.
Who is this crazy person who is letting herself be ruled by nap-times? Who has taken over my body and is acting like a mad woman?
My mood would be dependent on my baby's mood, which meant, since my child was a colicky and generally very high maintenance kind of baby, that I was often anxious and very rarely at peace with myself.
Before I had my first baby, I imagined motherhood to be hard and tiring, but I never imagined to have my confidence knocked away completely. I imagined I would be able to soothe my baby and I longed for those magical moments other mums talked about. After many days of a crying and fractious baby, I started to doubt myself and my ability as a mother. Why can't I soothe my own baby? Surely every mum can do that for her child?
This in itself made me forget that I was once confident and secure in who I was.
It took me about a year to start to remember the person I was. (Oh yes, I remember! I love to read and to dance, and I love real conversations and sharing a bottle of wine with a friend!) Old passions and loves start to emerge again as I came out of the all-consuming time of caring intensely for my baby without really knowing what on earth I was doing.
You forget what you're good at, or what you can add to society. You become so consumed with being a good enough mum that you forget that you're a person too, with a personality, gifts, and a purpose.
Since you've been through this intense time, you are no longer the same person that you once were. You are more. Yes, you're more broken, tired, messy, and tired (did I already say tired?), but you've learned about a deep source of strength that's only found from doing something as sacrificial as loving and caring for one so dependent on you.
This post was originally published on Beassured.co