A Mother? Who Me? Changing Our Identity

rp_motherwhome1-300x200.jpgWas first time motherhood surreal for you?

A number of the women I interviewed spoke of how surreal it was to be a mother in those early days of their first baby. I certainly remember feeling really strange being out with my new son and it was weird to be referred to as ‘Mummy’ by people.

In a way, we move from a place of just caring for ourselves and essentially still being the child in our own mother-child relationship (even if we are in our thirties), to becoming a mother to our own baby. This is a huge shift, not just in the things we do but also how we think about ourselves. This is how one mother put it.

I don’t feel any different you see. I still feel like he’s on loan and I’m not really his mum. It feels all a bit fake. It hasn’t really sunk in. I feel like I am too young to have a baby which is ridiculous because I am almost classed as an older mother

Our identity can take time to catch up with the new situation. Our sense of self is often something that does not adjust immediately. With time we grow into the new roles that we take on in life. I guess it is like starting a different career. We can feel a bit like an imposter to start with until we grow in confidence and really embody the role we have taken on. This is how another one of my mothers put it.

(It was) a bit surreal really. It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever gone through. (Motherhood is) really pleasant. I’d say it’s a pleasant experience and one of the best things we have ever done, one of the hardest things as well.

Looking back at my research, I do not know if this happened for the majority of my mums because it was not a question I asked to each woman. Rather it was just something that was mentioned by some in course of the discussion.

It can take time for our identity to adjust to the fact that we are a Mother Click To Tweet

I am left wondering how many women out there felt that way when they had their first baby or if, for some, being a mother felt completely natural from the start. There were certainly women that I interviewed who always knew that they were going to be mothers. For them it was about ‘when’ they would have children rather than ‘if’ they would. I am curious about wether those of us who feel destined to be mothers find that there is less of a shift in identity to be made or wether it is the same for most of us.

I would love to hear about your feelings. Did motherhood feel surreal to begin with? Or did it just feel natural? How was it being refereed to as a ‘Mummy’?

So what is next?

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24 thoughts on “A Mother? Who Me? Changing Our Identity

    1. Thank you for that. It is what I suspected, that our sense of being a mummy early on is a very individual thing.

  1. Very interesting post. I found it very natural to being called mummy, but it was something I had wanted for a long time (and thought at one point might never happen). I love hearing my girls calling me mummy or mama – even when it is being screamed at me. But being a mum completely changes your life so I can see how it might take a bit of getting used to…
    Thanks for linking up with #SundayStars
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    1. Thanks for your comment Karen. It is so lovely to hear that you had your children despite fearing not being able to. I can see how waiting and focusing on it for a long time would help it feel more natural because it is something you have identified with for a long time.

    1. Your comment again shows how we can hold contradictory feelings at once, Surreal yet natural. Thanks for that. My advice, focus on being the mother you are and forget the perfect mother ideas, they just put us under pressure.

    1. Yes, an identity shift happens. It can be a strange feeling. I didn’t get it with my second because I was already truly identified with being a mum. Thanks Eimear for your comment.

  2. Yet another great post! Oddly, I felt that motherhood felt both natural and surreal all at the same time. Not sure how that’s even possible, but that’s definitely how I felt. #twinklytuesday

    1. I completely get that Talya. It is amazing how we can hold contradictory feelings at the same time. It is a great comment because I am sure that many of us experience a bit of both. Thanks

    1. I did not know that. It is funny how we have our cultural expectations. Here some other adults look positively offended when my eldest calls me by my name rather than ‘mum’. Thanks for your comment.

    1. I am fascinated by your comment Dawn. you are not the first person I have heard saying that. I would love to know if motherhood was something you always thought you would do or if it was a desire that came on you in adulthood. This sense of identity and motherhood is very interesting.

    1. Hi Sarah. It is about that change of identity. for some women it seems to happen straightaway or they already had that sense of being a mother within them. for some of us it takes longer and for others it remains a surreal feeling. Thanks for your comment.

  3. From a dad’s perspective I can say that I hadn’t always thought about becoming a dad, but I did reach a point where the idea was not so outlandish. Now she is here, do I feel like a dad? Not really. I think I feel more like someone trying to be a dad. I feel proud to be one I know that for sure.
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    1. Thanks David for this. It is strange isn’t it. What does being a Mum or Dad really feel like? Your comment reminds of when I was a child and I used to look at adults and think that being an adult would feel different. I have never reached that feeling of being an adult like I expected to. Although I have been an adult for a long time now, I just feel like me. I guess for me that feeling of capability as a mum gradually crept up on me until I began to feel it. I am so glad you feel proud, that is what is important.

    1. Thanks Lisa. Your description sounds like it was quite surreal for you. Such a big life change happens and then we are exhausted and working so hard that it takes a while for it to sink in.

  4. I still look at my kids and think it’s all surreal and when they come jump on the bed and cuddle me in the morning it’s bittersweet and I think how do I have two beautiful children and I love them shouting mommy at me or hearing them shout for their daddy too. It’s such a deep happiness feeling. Lovely post. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme
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    1. I find it like that. I still feel very much myself and it can be amazing to know that these children are mine. Whereas other times I truly feel like a mum. Thanks for your comment.

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