Finish this sentence: I am a….
When you ask someone to tell you about themselves you are likely to get a list. Job title, family role, religion, maybe even a member of a club or community.
I have defined myself as an Occupational Therapist, Blogger, Runner, Fitness Instructor, Teacher, Wife, and most recently, Mother.
So what happens when you suddenly lose some of those titles you claim as self? What happens when the roles that make up the essence of Me, change? Some of them are gone, some of them have been replaced, others are on hold…Existential crisis here I come. Has this new role, Mother, changed the foundation of who I am?
Motherhood is one of the most amazing things I could ever fathom experiencing. My child is a constant source of joy and amazement to me. My love of being a mother grabbed me by the heart and left a permanent etching on my soul. It is a role that I will never shed. It’s a part of me now.
So what happens to those other parts that don’t fit my life as beautifully as they once did? Do I shed them like a crab that’s outgrown it’s shell, discarding them to the depths of the ocean never to be heard of again? Do I recreate myself into a whole new person? Or do I mix the old and new even when the jigsaw edges don’t line up quite right?
Here’s the funny thing: Part of my job (pre-baby) was helping sick or injured people to be able to return to their previous roles. I showed people how to overcome the limits that they thought they had. Occupational Therapist heal thyself.
Something I tell my patients is that every step of the journey counts. I can’t guarantee that they will be able to do things in exactly the same way they did them before, but I can help them to do the things that are important to them in a new way. It’s time to apply that lesson to my own life
Lately, I find myself pondering the art of becoming. The art of becoming is a process that happens all the time. Like the caterpillar transitioning into a butterfly. Perhaps I have mistaken the end of the story as the important part. Does the caterpillar know that it is going to sprout wings, or does it just know that spending some time in the cocoon is a part of the journey? Maybe, as a human, I can be both caterpillar and butterfly over and over again. Maybe, being the butterfly isn’t the point of the story.
One thing I know for certain, staying in the cocoon isn’t the answer. There will be changes, and I will have wings.
Thank you to everyone who said they wanted to read my essay when I mentioned it in a recent Instagram post. Below I have included four steps that I am implementing into my life. I firmly believe that we should always find ways to make time for the things that are important to us. I hope that this helped you in some way. Feel free to leave a comment with your own experiences, or any techniques that have helped you find balance in your life.
Take Action: 4 Steps to Reclaiming Some of Your Lost Roles (Or just doing something that makes you happy!)
- 1. Make a List: Identify the most important things that you need to do for yourself. This can be as big as career goals, or as little as getting a daily shower uninterrupted.
- 2. Make a Plan: What needs to happen to make the goals on your list possible? Focus on one item at a time. You can prioritize it by what’s most important, or what is most doable for your situation. Identify what actions need to occur to make your goal happen.
- 3. Implement Your Plan: Now it’s time to take action. Work on making your plan a reality. Do you need a babysitter? Start asking friends or family, or look for a referral from someone you trust.
- 4. Celebrate Small Successes: In life things don’t always go as planned, even when you have well defined goals. Learn to be flexible and enjoy each success. Practicing kindness to yourself will help you be happier, and kinder to others. If your plan doesn’t work the first time don’t give up. Modify, adjust, and try again. Remember the OT Mantra: You may not be able to do things in exactly the way you did them before, but you can learn new ways to do what’s important to you.
9 thoughts on “The Lost Art of Being Me (More than a Mother)”
Thank you so much for sharing this. I lived the analogy of the butterfly and caterpillar… And the line “spending some time in the cacoon is part of the journey.” thank you for always being a source of inspiration and encouragement! Xx
Thank you melissa, always an inspiration to read and get motivated. I agree motherhood is an amazing while challenging time. Especially in a society where more is better. I agree small steps are huge in the journey. They are our steps on this monument we have to walk on. I always try to focus on we all have to start or get back on some where, so each step is higher and harder but so worth it!! I will continue to pray for your family!!
I can 100% relate to this. Being a mother is the best, most wonderful and hardest thing I have ever done. There is a part of me that mourns my old self, yet I would not give up what I have for anything. I love your OT mantra, I have never heard that before but just reading it has helped me to see things a different way. I am also a firm believer in doing things for yourself, filling up my own cup so I can give to others. For me this is my fitness and wellness. If I do something active everyday (and some days this is only a small walk with the baby) I am a better mother for it. I struggle with asking others for help, I don’t know why, probably sheer stubbornness! And this is something I need to start doing so I can start working on a few other goals I have. As always, thank you for sharing xx
Absolutely loved your essay and steps to take to reclaiming yourself! Being a mother, you learn quick things are constantly changing- especially when the kids are going through different growth/age stages.
I worked full time before children, then stayed home. Then in a blink of an eye, they were ready for school. What was I to do? Go back to work, volunteer in the schools, stay home?
I can relate with your essay! My life changed when I had my kids, now it’s changed again. I’ve decided to go back to work, luckily I’ve got a ton of flexibility. I’ll never regret my decision to stay home when I did.
I’m sure as my children enter the next stages of life – mine will change too. I’ll adapt and make whatever adjustments needed.
Love your OT mantra! I’ll be following that!
Thank you for all you do!
Lol- the workouts help keep me sane! Lol
Thanks for sharing ! You are truly an inspiration to a lot of people , I have found myself and groove after my kids were out of the house ,very difficult finding out your not just a Mom and caretaker ,I had kids very young , too young one is 35 and one is 26 ,I am also a grandma of two at 51 ….. thought just staying thin was a priority …but I was not healthy thin ,just thin ……now because of you I am healthy and strong I thank you Melissa
Wonderful essay!! You are all those things and so much more. You forgot to mention singer, writer, kick ass dancer, supportive daughter, sister and friend. The list will constantly evolve but that doesn’t mean you leave anything behind. It’s all part of you alway. We are always finding new passions to discover.
Thank you so much for sharing this! You are an inspiration!
Beautifully written words, thank you for sharing your experience with us. It truly helps to know that everyone goes through things, that you are not alone and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Change is not always easy or welcomed but it’s the way you learn to embrace it and the way you learn to appreciate what you have that helps you understand the journey.
Melissa, I have been following you for about 6 years now and you have always been such an inspiration, motivation and overall positive influence in my life. Thank you for all that you do, you truly help others and I hope you know that your words and your actions never go unnoticed. Thank you.
This is truly an inspiration!
Thank you Melissa for these words that apply to us all.