Identity and New Motherhood

Identity and New Motherhood

A couple of years ago, I drove fast along I-84 in Connecticut, late enough at night that there were hardly any other cars on the road. I don’t know anything about car engines, but my ex used to tell me that the engine was the reason that car was so much fun to drive. Decidedly un-motherly music blared through my Bose speakers.


For a moment, I forgot I was pregnant.


Suddenly, that moment ended; listening to this music and driving fast seemed so wrong and so funny at the same time. My car wasn’t a “mom car.” I wondered if I should be listening to some language-learning program to bring whatever I picked up in French and Spanish classes back from the abyss. Or should I learn Mandarin? Is 8ish months enough time to learn Mandarin? What kind of major transformation would I have to undergo to become a person who someone else could call mom?


Since then, I’ve learned that rather than turning me into some other person, motherhood brings out more of the “me” I’ve always known.

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My preferred creative outlet has always been writing, but I dabble in painting when there aren’t enough words. During month 6 or so of my pregnancy, there weren’t enough words. I like painting on big, unusual surfaces, so I ordered a giant piece of cardboard from Staples, so big I had to borrow a real “mom car” to get it to my house. I figured out the right paints to use so  I wouldn’t inhale any toxic fumes, opened the windows anyway, and got to work. I went deep into the flow state, turning the love I already felt for my then-unborn daughter into a painting she could look at one day and feel my love.


Again, I wondered: Could I be a mom and also do this? Would I still be able to lose myself in the creative process?


On a practical level, I’ve discovered the answer is sometimes no. Sometimes I’m home with the small person I made all day and she goes on a spilling spree, forcing me to follow her around with paper towels lest the smell of milk forever permeate my house.


But, often enough to keep me happy, the answer is an emphatic yes. I believe that by working on things, losing myself in a creative project or in paid work or my garden or whatever other thing lights my fire that day, I set an example for my daughter. I like to believe it’s a good one.


Two years deep into the mom thing, I’m still as weird as ever. I still spend inordinate amounts of time and money procuring just the right things for my project ideas. I still love to work. I’m still lazy sometimes, binge watching Gilmore Girls rather than writing or meditating or whatever. I’m still not a morning person. I still don’t like quinoa as much as everyone else seems to, and I still drink kombucha by the bucketful.


Even though I’m still the same person, I own myself more. The stuff I’m made of is what helped me raise this wonderful daughter. It’s helped me build this wonderful life. Rather than turning me into a woman I thought I needed to be, motherhood makes me grateful to be the woman I’ve been all along.


Did you have a mini (or MAJOR) identity crisis when you became a mom? Share your experience in the comments!

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