One thing the world doesn't prepare you for is the transition from caregiver to mentor in motherhood. The journey to accepting that you are a mom, a caregiver to another tiny human, and getting comfortable with being one takes a long time. And just when you think you maybe know what you're doing, you realize that the kids are older and don’t need you the same anymore. Mine are 9 and 12, and they are more independent now, thank goodness. Sure, there is still a lot of work involved, but it looks different. And although maybe slightly, you likely are getting more sleep and more time to yourself again.
But you look around and realize that you don't know who you are anymore. And depending on your relationship if you have one, you may feel very alone in recognizing that your partner didn't have the same experience physically or emotionally caring for, delivering, and mothering your children and that their hockey playing never changed. Surviving the years of being a mom to young children has been an exhausting survival effort, even if you wouldn't have changed it upon reflection. Between work and parenting the way you want to, you're left with years with little time for friends, self-care, or even interests and hobbies. The hobbies you once loved or interests you once had may not even be options for you anymore, or at least not at the same level you did them when you were younger. Speaking personally, I reflect on competitive gymnastics and high-level classical singing, the hours of practice to maintain my level of performance just isn't possible today, not to mention my body is cusping on 40.
You begin to self-reflect on what has happened to you and how you got to where you are. Everyone says years of motherhood are fast, and you look back and think about what happened. My theory is that it's because it is exhausting, and you were so tired that the time just flew by.
In my latest podcast episode, Finding Balance: Exploring Your Interests Beyond Work and Motherhood, I explore how to answer the question, "What do you do outside of work?" as you find yourself again.
I don't have all the answers to avoid all of this from happening, but I want you to know that if you're exploring something similar, you're not alone. I see you, and you're not crazy.
As my kids get older, I've now moved from caregiver to mentor in my motherhood journey, and I'm needing to adjust to my children's increased desire and, frankly, need for independence as I support them in becoming adults. My role is changing. And I find myself having to transition again, away from caregiver to mentor. It feels hard, and it's too soon and not soon enough at the same time, especially after all the work I put in to find my place as a caregiver.
If you're feeling like you've lost your identity and are struggling with the transition from caregiver to mentor, know that you're not alone. Take some time to explore your interests and hobbies (listen to the latest podcast), and find what brings you joy outside of work and parenting. Just because what you do outside of work has changed, doesn't mean that we need to place a moral value on that being bad. Remember, it's okay to redefine who you are and what motherhood means to you as your children grow and change. You've got this!