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Mamas, You Need to Maintain Your Identity While Momming

Momming is a whole thing. And yes, it is a verb, isn’t it?

Whether you’re in the phase of babies and toddlers—diapers, sippy cups, and choking hazards—or in the trenches of puberty and adolescence—tantrums, phone restrictions, and sex talks—being a Mom takes up so much time and mental space that I think we would all agree that “Momming” is a verb.

If “Adulting” can have that status, “Momming” certainly can.

Anyone who has raised kids knows that being a mom is a full time job, even when many of us actually have other full time jobs. It is an all-encompassing facet of our existence, often joyfully so. But whether our children are all under five or teenagers, running their lives has a deep impact on our own. For some reason, for moms more than dads, each step we take towards building our children’s identities presents the danger of encroaching on our own.

When our kids are little, we join MOPS or MOMS Club or similar groups where small children are the focus of conversation and activity.

In elementary school, we spend our free time volunteering in the classroom if we’re able, both to be a friendly face in their school environment and keep our hands in the place that houses them for so many crucial hours.

This trend continues in middle and into high school, only there we’re swapping classroom time for a taxi service, and angling for coveted titles like “Band Mom” or “Soccer Mom.”

If “Adulting” can have that status, “Momming” certainly can.

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The point is that, in each of these phases of parenting, any extra time we may have is funneled into our children’s needs. And yes, we only have a limited amount of time with them—around 1,000 weeks—and we should spend those intentionally molding them into productive, compassionate adults.

But let’s all admit that there’s a cost to our work. And the cost is us.

The midlife crisis isn’t a laugh, isn’t a Hollywood gimmick, and isn’t a made-up thing that’s only for men who want younger girlfriends and fast cars. It’s a place where a woman in her mid-40s finds herself wondering what to do with her free time when there is no soccer carpool, art club, or chorus concert. She can’t remember what her hobbies are, because she hasn’t had them since her kids were born. For one thousand weeks she has lived the essence of her child’s life, and forgotten her own. (Read about a woman who was in this exact boat and decided to go for it by clicking here.)

I know, it sounds so depressing. The beautiful side of the scenario is that we, as mothers, are allowed time to imprint our values and loves onto our own flesh and blood, and we get to watch them grow until they’re old enough to fly. That’s not a task to be taken lightly, and it requires time and sacrifice.

However, there is space to be concerned. We don’t disappear for 18 years. During those 1,000 weeks we are still women with loves and passions and hearts that beat deeply for things other than our offspring. And listen, it’s okay to cultivate those passions, even when we have small people underfoot. It’s more than okay—it’s vital.

When the young ones are gone from our homes, we’ll still have many years of living left to do, and by then it will be high time to stop worrying about what the kids are doing. Those beautiful years of freedom are the ones that get the rest of us, and the world will need it. All mothers, whether stay-at-home or not, are filled with gifts that need to be shared. And while the thick parenting years may not afford as much time to share them, we should still spend those years cultivating them so that they are honed and fine-tuned when we come into our full freedom.

So how do we do that? How do we find time to focus on ourselves and protect our own identities while in the busiest of parenting years?

Respect seasons.
Yes, you used to love quilting, but gardening fits your schedule better and the kids can totter around outside while you pull weeds. In college you read The New York Times every day, but now The Skimmm is all you have time for. It’s okay to engage in a scaled down version of your hobby for a while. Time ebbs and flows with parenting; there are cycles of busyness as well as beautiful, open schedules. If the marathon used to be your game, but a 5K is all you can manage, keep engaging in what you love, and trust that the time will open up again. And when it does, you’ll be ready.

Identify your gifts.
This is where the internet comes in handy. Take personality quizzes, look at your Pinterest boards, remind yourself what you love and what—other than baby smell—makes your heart beat with gladness.

Make time for at least one talent or interest.
Book of the month club? Couch to 5k? Something more hands-on like knitting, crafting, or cooking? There is something apart from parenting that you should be forcing yourself to do on a regular basis. One wonderful side effect of parenting groups is you’ll find other women in the same boat as you, desperate for friendship and stimulation outside of their kids. Join forces and start something in your neighborhood or faith community. And rule number one should be, “No kid talk!”

All mothers, whether stay-at-home or not, are filled with gifts that need to be shared.

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Engaging your mind and heart outside of your kids will make you better with your kids—it sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Every hour you spend resting your heart and mind will refresh you for the days and hours ahead—some of which may be hard. If it’s naptime, let the laundry stay in the basket and pick up your book or do your yoga video. You’ll need your mind restored for the witching hours to come.

Remember, it’s for you.

It’s for you when your kids are little and pulling on your pants leg asking for more milk.

It’s for you when you say “no” to volunteering at the band competition so you can have a date-night with your man.

It’s for you when your young adult kids see you making choices that benefit your own personal health so you can bless the world with your gifts.

At the end of day, know that your children are vitally important people that need your love and care. Also know that you need some love and care, too.

You’ll also like The Thief I Let In: a Day in the Life of a Working Mom, To the Mom Who Feels Guilty for Loving Her WorkDear SAHM: I See You and Want You to Know These 8 ThingsCan You Start a Career Later in Life? Absolutely. and You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be a Great Mom


Maggie Bowling is a mom of 4 living in the wilds of suburban Atlanta, looking for excellent guacamole and trying to face down middle age with class. 

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