A mother holding her baby


Motherhood: My Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Identity Crisis

Feb 23, 2017

I would have a good life, I thought, if a nurse or a midwife were to hand me a fresh wee baby and softly say, “Here you go, mom!” I wouldn’t have to get used to it. No amount of lack of sleep, nor threat of hormonal imbalance(s) scared me — I had read about it! I knew about all that stuff and what was to come — I was prepared! If I were to somehow be blessed with a kid or two, all of the struggle it took to get there would serve as my constant reminder; years of infertility would be my reality check.

So when my tiny infant son latched to my breast for the first time, it wasn’t just a dominance of oxytocins, endorphins and estrogen that had me swooning. As I held his tiny body close to mine, I wanted to nourish him forever. It was pure, electric love.

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I would be grateful. I wouldn't complain. I definitely wouldn't admit that "hormonal imbalance" doesn’t quite cover the sensation of being ravaged on every level, both physical and emotional. These are the sort of thoughts I had as my life started to explode with deep satisfaction, joy and love like I’d never known. Simultaneously, though, I flailed about in disarray.

No matter what your dreams revolving around motherhood might be — nothing will ever be the same again.

These feelings are not abnormal. I know I’m not the only one. In fact, more and more mothers are coming forward and speaking out about the good, the bad and the ugly of motherhood. Because when it’s good, it’s wonderful. And then there are the days when we scream-cry into a towel in the bathroom.

I don’t mean to frighten you off, dear reader, if you’ve stumbled here as a tender new mom or hopeful mom-to-be. It’s just that the reality is this: no matter what your pregnancy journey or birthing experience, no matter what your dreams revolving around motherhood might be — nothing will ever be the same again. 

Revel in that.

There was no benchmark moment for me, no single point in time when I felt low and displaced. It happened in waves, after the birth of my first and then my second. I would honestly have to say that these feelings actualized themselves mainly through my career, but in digging even deeper, being a parent — a mother — has continued to be the most triggering labour of love I’ve had to date.

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When I was a new mom I felt small, without much to contribute to the world. This was a stark difference from my professional life, working in community building and advocacy. I didn’t realize that making meals for toddlers merely scratched the surface of what I was really doing. It was easy to get caught up in feeling invisible when living in a small town with a commuter husband; going from talking in adult circles with my passionate, intelligent colleagues to constant baby and toddler speak.

I eventually came to the knowledge that nurturing humans — the next generation — to be kind, compassionate thinkers, doers and changemakers is some of the most important WORK anyone can take part in. Not just mothers; it indeed takes a village.

I had to come to terms with the fact that one mom’s jam definitely wasn’t mine.

But I refused to accept that being a 'good mom' was my life's singular purpose. I had to come to terms with the fact that one mom’s jam definitely wasn’t mine. I still needed/wanted to satisfy myself in ways that fell completely outside of motherhood — professionally and personally. I went back and forth between thinking I was being selfish for thinking of myself so damn much, to wondering if I still had any skills to contribute. I mean, who was I to be having an identity crisis?! How silly, how self-absorbed, right?

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I like to think of it as human growth — developing and evolving and being honest with oneself about the bogus idea of perfection we get tricked into buying (literally and figuratively). If other adults can do their self-help thang, if corporate go-getters can go on personal development retreats and mastermind workshops to help them figure their ish out, well then, so can moms!

It took me a long time to get here, to the other side, and I still struggle. While writing has remained one of my long-term freelance gigs, there has been much figuring out to do, which I’m still doing, and my first born is now SEVEN. I started doing little things to regain my sense of control. Making art. Taking time for myself and my marriage.

Moms: perhaps we should be asking ourselves: What makes a good mother? Why, an identity crisis, of course!

Article Author Selena Mills
Selena Mills

Read more from Selena here

A multidisciplinary creative professional and artisan, Selena has over 10 years of experience writing and editing for acclaimed publications, B2B content creation, social management, brand building, design and VA services. Passionate about elevating Indigenous and FNMI stories, perspectives and voices in digital media, she strives to build bridges renegade style. When the chaos permits, Selena is an avid four-seasons permaculture gardener and a hobby “chef” who looks for other parents to revel (and or kvetch) in motherhood with. Clearly, she doesn’t like rules, most visionaries don’t.

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