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Who am I?: If not Just a Mom

Before becoming a mom, I subconsciously defined myself by my achievements. For instance, when catching up with old friends or family members after a long time, a common question often arises: "So, what are you doing now? What's your job?" Perhaps it's an American thing, or maybe it's universal, but we tend to place significant emphasis on our occupations or whatever it is we “do.”

Even though I didn't particularly enjoy my job, I took pride in announcing that I worked for my state's government. Others seemed to view it as a prestigious position, and that validation kept me in the role longer than my enjoyment of the job did. So, when the decision to stay at home with my child came up, quitting felt like losing a part of my self-worth.

I'm certain these subconscious beliefs contributed to my declining mental health, even if I never vocalized them. I felt I had lost my identity because I had defined myself through my job. Motherhood demanded that I rediscover myself, and once I did, I needed to embrace and be confident in the person I chose to be, especially for my son's sake. Above all, I wanted him to have confidence, something money can't buy. For much of my life, I had let my achievements serve as my confidence boost. I recall as a child attempting to discard an assignment I received a C on because I couldn't bear the disappointment. Rather than just being disappointed with the grade, I saw myself as the disappointment. My parents found it, and their reaction was surprisingly underwhelming. While they weren't particularly upset about the grade, they were disappointed I had tried to hide it. I didn't want my son to develop similar self-doubts.

Around the six-month mark, I sensed my identity shifting again. I was no longer just a state employee; I was a mom. However, that's all I saw myself as. When people asked how I was, I'd talk about my son and his milestones. I had let my son become my identity. Recognizing this, I had to remind myself to focus on things that interested me, whether old hobbies or new pursuits. I began checking in with myself, asking if I was okay, much like I would with my son when he was hurt or unwell. Rediscovering my confidence felt akin to nurturing my inner child. Throughout this journey, I had to reassure the child-like, insecure parts of myself. It was crucial for me to exemplify the confidence I aimed to instill in my son.

In truth, I was overdue for a confidence boost. Even if you don't grapple with self-confidence issues, becoming a new parent is undeniably daunting. There's so much to learn and so much responsibility. Honestly, beyond the basics like feeding and changing him, I felt clueless. I lacked the innate maternal instinct many people speak of. I had to embrace both my role as a mother and my individuality. Gradually, I learned who I was and how to be a mom. These are two distinct aspects of my life that can harmoniously coexist.

There are essential aspects for me to maintain an identity outside of being a mom. One thing that has become easier for me is cherishing the time I spend mothering.

Mom Mode

Even when actively parenting, it's easy to let that time slip away. Often, when my son is having a tough day, I just want it to be over. This isn't to say we should love every second of parenting; it's unrealistic to expect anyone to love EVERYTHING about someone else. Even when your child has been screaming for the past hour? It's perfectly okay not to love those moments. When routines become mindless, mindfulness helps. I actively try to re-engage with moments I find myself drifting from. Whether or not I feel up to it, this time may be incredibly special for my son for various reasons. Right now, my child's world—and yours—is small. To them, you are the center. Instead of viewing this as a stressor, let it lighten your load, knowing someone thinks highly of you. Perhaps this perspective can also help you through the challenging days. In mom mode, silently acknowledge that this time with your child is wonderful and enough. Remember, it's just one part of what makes you, you.

Find What You Like

As mentioned earlier, I needed to find activities I enjoyed to differentiate myself. Whether it's a hobby, connecting with friends, or simply relaxing, the choice is yours. Don't feel obligated to fill every free minute with an activity; that's a clear path to burnout. I enjoy gardening, but perhaps your thing is reading, baking, or watching Grey's Anatomy reruns. Whatever it is, it's your thing. As long as you genuinely enjoy it, make time for it. If you haven't found your "thing" yet, consider joining communities on Facebook, Reddit, or other platforms to discover new interests.

Celebrate You

Just as you cheer for your baby's milestones, celebrate your own achievements. When you discover a new hobby, literally pat yourself on the back. Encourage and congratulate yourself for improving and for caring enough to cultivate your interests.


Setting boundaries is essential for maintaining your individuality. Even as a stay-at-home mom, you're not responsible for EVERY aspect concerning your child. Advocating for yourself is part of becoming your own person. If you feel you aren't getting enough time to yourself, communicate with your husband or support system. Express your feelings and emphasize the importance of time for your health and family's well-being. In a family, everyone's needs, including mom's, must be met.


Enjoying your hobbies is easier with support. Seek the understanding and support of your spouse, partner, and loved ones to help you carve out time for yourself. If you feel isolated, reach out to online or local communities where you can feel heard and understood. Knowing I wasn't alone in my experiences significantly improved my mental state.


Never underestimate the power of self-care, even if it's as simple as a long shower. While others can help care for you, taking the initiative to care for yourself is also beneficial. Don't wait to address your needs. Take a long shower, eat your favorite meal, go for a walk, or journal. If you feel rested or lighter afterward, consider it self-care.

Finding a balance between motherhood and personal identity is an ongoing journey that requires self-awareness, intentionality, and self-compassion. By prioritizing your needs, interests, and well-being, you can nurture a fulfilling and authentic identity that encompasses both your role as a mom and your individuality.

To aid your journey of self-discovery, ask yourself: Who are you? Who do you want to be? And how will you get there?


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