I didn’t have my son until I was 34, so I came to this quite late in the game. One thing that was always important to me was that I retain a sense of self and that I wasn’t defined by whether I had children or not. Since I struggled with infertility for so many years, I didn’t want words like “childless” and “barren” or “infertile” to define who I was in any way, and I held onto that when I was pregnant in the opposite sense. I wanted to feel the same amount of self-value whether I ended up having children or not. I have a lot of friends who don’t – or can’t – have children, and I never liked the preachy-mother who thought they were something special for having popped out a few sprogs.
In short, I didn’t want it to change or define me, and I certainly didn’t want to be rubbing anyone else’s nose in my womanly-achievements. Especially those friends who were still mired in the fertility struggle that I know so well.
It’s ironic then that I started a blog entitled “Welsh Mum” – my blog is literally defined by the fact that I’m a mother! I don’t share this blog on my personal page, despite all the urgings of my blogging friends to rope in friends and family for feedback and shares. My reader is you – probably someone anonymous, who found me randomly, or another blogger just seeing what’s up.
After I gave birth, I realized that you can’t help be shaped and changed by the experience. My life was inherently changed, inside and out, top to bottom and I couldn’t resist that. This hasn’t been entirely positive, as I’m still struggling with postnatal anxiety and suffering from the traumatic birth. That’s been quite hard to admit and very hard to talk about.
I lied to myself throughout pregnancy that I wouldn’t change and motherhood wouldn’t define me – but that was of course not possible. You can’t add a tiny human to your life and not change. Your life really does revolve around them now! It’s changed me physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s changed my marriage and even my relationship with my own mother.
So what am I? How do I view myself? How do others view me? Does it even matter?
I’ve always had a bit of an introspective personality, so these are the sorts of questions that keep me awake at night. One of my flaws is worrying a bit too much about what other people think of me, so I know I need to let go of that and just find an inner peace and happiness with who I am for myself and not for anyone else.
I’m a mother.
I’m a daughter.
I’m a wife.
I’m a businesswoman.
I’m an animal lover.
I’m a writer.
I’m a gamer.
I’m a geek.
Why am I getting so hung up on one single thing defining me, when I am – and have always been – a big collection of things?
We are a little bit of everything – our relationships, our hobbies, our work, our family. I think when I look at it from a psychological point of view, it all stems back to wanting to feel that I was still important when I couldn’t have the thing I wanted most – children. I spent years mentally convincing myself I didn’t need a child to be “complete”. Now that I have a child, I worry that I’m going to let that consume me and be all that I am. Eventually, my son will leave the home and go on in life alone, and then what will I be? Will I be complete without a child? My postnatal anxiety manifests itself a lot in fear of something happening to my son – irrationally so, and I think that’s tied into the way I think about my sense of self now.
That’s why it’s important to me that I try really hard to keep involved and engaged in all aspects of my personality. To hold onto doing things for myself, to spend time with family that’s not focused around my son, to have date nights with my husband (like our recent overnight visit to the Red Dragon Centre), and to keep challenging myself to work through these hard inner thoughts!
Those are my musings on a sense of self.