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Here's Why You Need to Have an Identity Outside of Being a Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

Last Mother’s Day, my 4 1/2-year-old daughter came home from church with a fun questionnaire she had filled out about me. I’d seen these before and I was intrigued and excited to read her answers. Most of the questions were geared toward my favorite things and, as I was reading the answers, I noticed a common theme: All of “my” favorite things were actually her favorite things.

My favorite place to eat : Chick-Fil-A.

Wrong. Her favorite place.

My favorite show to watch: “Masha and Bear.”

Wrong again. Her favorite show.

Now I realize this isn’t something monumental—kids can be pretty self-involved—but I was curious: If the same questions were asked about my husband, would she would answer the same way? Luckily, that chance came around that Father’s Day. When I browsed through her answers to his questions, she got ALL of them right on the money.

Favorite sport to watch: Football.

Ding, ding, ding!

Favorite thing to eat: Doughnuts.

Right again. And the streak went on!

This was an eye-opening moment for me. Before I was a mom, I used to have all sorts of hobbies and interests, but after motherhood, I slowly let most of my interests go—and it's clear my daughter had unknowingly picked up on that. And I know it's not just me. So many moms give up their sense of self in the chaos of raising young kids, until one day you wake up, read a questionnaire your child filled out and realize you no longer have an identity outside of mothering.

I decided it was something I wanted to change. Needed to change.

So, I started making changes to incorporate things for myself. I mean just me—no one else. The result was mind-blowing. I immediately recognized that I felt happier and more balanced. And it makes total sense.

Allowing myself to have a hobby shook things up—in a good way.

As a mom, it’s crazy hard to not get consumed by all of the feedings, cleanings and emotional breakdowns that inevitably happen with kids. Allowing myself to have a hobby shook things up—in a good way. Now, instead of dreading how long the day already seems to stretch on with chores and kid management, it's given me something extra to look forward to. And when I'm finished with my weekly tennis class, reading or whatever it may be, I feel refreshed and ready to be with my kids again.

A happier mom means a happier family, so it's a win-win.

Maintaining my identity outside of motherhood also sets a great example for my children. Showing my kids that I have interests, needs and goals (besides playing Barbies all day) is an invaluable lesson. Of course, my children need me most of all, but to have them see me set a goal and reach it is something I hope they'll emulate for the rest of their life. Plus, from what I've experienced, they've been my number-one fans when that goal is met.

So, if you're a mom feeling stuck in a rut, always cranky or just plain blah, I urge you to find something to do just for you. It doesn't have to be a big expensive new hobby or anything super complicated, just find something that interests you and go for it!

I now feel more patient with my kids and husband, and I'm more positive and relaxed about stressful situations. Overall, I truly feel like a more enjoyable person to be around.

Moms sacrifice so much when they have children and our identity shouldn't have to be one of them.

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