9 Ways To Regain Your Sense Of Self
Do you feel like you’ve lost your identity when you became a mom? Don’t worry it’s normal! Here are 9 self-care tips to reclaim your old sense of self.
Jewell:I got pregnant, I gave birth, I got pregnant, I gave birth, I got pregnant, I gave birth…
Emirick: Keep going, Jewell!
Mariel: It’s like a handmaid’s tale! I’m like…
Jewell: My hormones were all over the place! And at the same time dealing with crying babies and lack of sleep. I always just felt stressed out! And fast forward to now, maybe within the last two years, is when I recognized that I’ve lost who I was!
Mariel Gutierrez: Hello! Welcome to the Faith and Family podcast, hosted by the Tired but inspired Moms! We are four Christian moms of the Church Of Christ, Iglesia Ni Cristo. I’m Mariel Gutierrez. I’ve been a mom since 2006.
Bernie Rosquites: I’m Bernie Rosquites! I’ve been a mom since 2012.
Emirick: I’m Emirick Haro, and [I’ve] been a mom since 2000!
Jewell: And I’m Jewell Buenavista. [I’ve] been a mom since 2008!
Mariel: It’s so funny. You know, I was actually doing the math in my head. I’m like, collectively, we have 50 years of mom-ing experience. [Laughs]. And I felt both old but very accomplished! Because I was like, well, if I don’t have the experience I can always just tap into one of my friends, you know? [laughs] Right? So today, I’m going to ask, do you guys even remember what you were like before being a mom? With our 50 years of mom-ing experience? Do you all feel like you’ve lost a sense of identity? So, today – listeners, friends – today we’re going to discover the 9 effective ways to cope with identity loss, and how to slowly gain it back!
Bernie: Well, good. Because girl I need it! Before being a mom, I was… a creative! You know, I loved, loved to write. But the last time I was creative, was helping my 8 year old with a puppet show…
Bernie: And you know, my fashion sense has kind of been chiseled down to like the leggings and the hoodie and the slip on shoes – preferably Vans – so that’s why I think I’m still a little bit fashionable?
Emirick: [Laughs] definitely! Kids are wearing them? I mean, come on, right?!
Bernie: And them um… right?!
Mariel: Right! Right. Still on point.
Emirick: Hoodies and vans! You’re still good.
Bernie: And then don’t get me started [with] wearing that make-up! My make-up brushes have collected dust, and I think the only thing that’s still being used is eyeliner and mascara, and do I even bother to wear lipstick these days? Do I even? So…
Jewell: Oh my goodness, Bernie. We’re so the same when it comes to that! Well, I just realized before… um when becoming a mom after the three, I realized ok, something about me has changed. And what I realized was: I got pregnant, I gave birth, I got pregnant, I gave birth, I got pregnant, I gave birth…
Emirick: Keep going, Jewell!
Mariel: It’s like a handmaid’s tale! I’m like…
Jewell: My hormones were all over the place! And at the same time dealing with crying babies and lack of sleep. I always just felt stressed out! And fast forward to now, maybe within the last two years, is when I recognized that I’ve lost who I was! And, honestly, mamas, I’m trying to find myself. I used to fix myself a lot more! Nowadays, just like Bernie, I’m just [like] ok, what sweats, what jeans, what…
Mariel: Jewell, you know what’s so funny though? It’s that you’re still really pretty and put together…
Emirick: Yeah, sounds like, you know, a lot of changes continue to happen. So, before you were a mom, and now… good and bad things! Right? So, if I think of myself – my identity – before I was a mom, I was spontaneous as well. I flew by the seat of my pants, and I always landed on my feet. Planning and preparation was like, totally overrated? [Laughs] It was like, what do I feel like doing now? I’m going to do that right now! And… I lie a little because I didn’t always land on my feet, but I pretended like I always landed on my feet.
Mariel: No matter how you landed, it was always just gracefully anyway [Laughs]
Emirick: Yeah exactly! I’m like ta-da! This was how it was supposed to be?! I was so fun and spontaneous… But, today, like today, I’m like [the] complete opposite. I’m super practical and a total planner! You know? Ok, maybe not a complete total planner, because you know, I have my moments, but my 24 year old self would be super impressed with this 46 year old version, you know?
Mariel: You know what’s funny? I didn’t know you all when I was single, right? I lived all the way up in Canada. So hearing about you all, like, your befores? And… yeah! Like, I mean, I love you all now and everything, and I wish we were all single together.
Emirick: We would’ve had a good time!
Mariel: We sound like fun people! We sound like we’re humans, right?!
Mariel: Like, really cute?
Emirick: I’m trying to convince my kids that I was like, really fun!
Jewell: Oh my gosh, Emirick! That’s me all the time! And my kids just laugh. They’re like, no mommy, daddy’s the fun one!
Mariel: Ouch! Ow…
Bernie: Why is dad always the fun one?! Dad’s the fun one in my house too.
Mariel: Oh, you know what then? So, does it even bear asking? Like, should I even ask? Do you miss your old self? You know? Are there parts of it that you miss? Or..
Bernie: You know, I… I do. It can be a little scary. A little… depressing, shall I say? Every sense of who you were before kids, or, who I was before kids, is… you know… you kind of look in the mirror and it’s all gone? And your passions and your interests have slowly disappeared, and you’ve devoted all this time to raising little humans, right? And a lot of the time you don’t even realize that it’s happening! It’s right there, it’s happening right before your face. You don’t even know. Next thing you know, you’re at the Container Store figuring out how you’re, like, going to organize, you know, your…
Mariel: Tiny t-shirts and [laugh] yeah!
Bernie: And then one day you look at yourself in the mirror and then you just see parts of yourself, you know, it’s fading away, and so sometimes, you know, that kind of, that kind of hits hard sometimes. You try not to, but…
Bernie: … it does.
Bernie: But this – we’re not going to end… we’re not going to end as a sad story!
Bernie: What we are sharing because I feel like… I’m going to cry!?
Mariel: Did you feel emotional as well?
Bernie: But what we are sharing, and you know, it’s… it’s true, and it’s the realities of parenthood. You know, we’ve got a lot of moms reaching out to us everyday saying the same thing, and asked us how they can cope. Well, we reached out to Dr. Sydney Fontanares who is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Bay area, and she shared with us 9 ways to deal with identity loss. Are you all ready to hear these 9 ways?
Bernie: There you go! Ok, number 1: Ask yourself what are the things I liked or liked to do before I became a mother?
Bernie: Right? How can I reincorporate some of these things back into my life? Which we’re slowly doing because, you know, Jewell is over here chillin’ on the couch binging on Netflix! Which is awesome! And then we ask for help! Number 2: We ask for help. It takes a village!
Bernie: It takes a village to raise a child… and a mom! Right?
Bernie: Moms can take this time to rediscover herself and her hobbies, which is… which is the truth. You know, I myself [am] slowly getting back to the creative portion of what I love to do. Why not? Even if it’s just a few… uh, you know, a few minutes out of the day just to, just to – something for me. Um, number 3: Compromise with your spouse about a weekly set “me” time.
Emirick: That’s a good one, yes.
Bernie: Like, I’m going to be a Target… between 4:30 and [laughs]
Mariel: 4:30 to 8:00? [Laughs]
Jewell: I’m getting my nails done, my hair done…
Bernie: Right? Exactly! It’s on the calendar. It’s on the calendar. Number 4: Find ways to creatively continue to invest in yourself – which is so true. Number 5: Know that your identity is ever evolving.
Bernie: That ‘different’ doesn’t always mean ‘lost’. Priorities shift as you and your child grows. Which is so truuue! Right?
Everyone: Yes. Yes. That’s a good one!
Bernie: Yeees! And number 6: Identify how to incorporate what you value in the current season of your life. Number 7: Use boundaries to help you prioritize your wants and needs. Number el… 8: Practice self-compassion, and number 9: identify your strengths and what you do well.
Emirick: I like those!
Jewell: I love these! Ni… this 9.
Bernie: Yeah! But I’m going to pair her advice, you know, your advice… everybody’s take on this with acceptance and prayer because I prayed a lot when I felt like I was spiraling.
Everyone: Yes. Mhm.
Bernie: And God has shown me through different events and people in my life, you know, example? You guys! That I have been blessed with, like, the most important job, and that’s being a mom. And this is who I am now and forever. I can’t, I can’t waste my time asking myself, you know, where did “Bernie from the Block” go?
Emirick: She’s in there! She’s in there! [Laughs]
Mariel: [Laughs] She’s lifted! She’s like, deep down, shoved…
Emirick: She has evolved though!
Mariel: Yes! She’s evolved!
Emirick: She’s better now!
Bernie: Yeah, like, you know, I’m Jojo’s mama, and I now give myself grace.
Bernie: And I love my leggings. And my hoodie! And as my journey as a wife and mother has given me new things. It’s given me new things to write about! Right?
Everyone: Yes! True.
Bernie: And I have embraced my new identity, and you know guys, I mean, I love it. It’s hard, it took some time to get here, but I’m comfortable where I am now. Yeah.
Jewell: Girl! I know what you mean. You know, when I look in the mirror, I see pictures I’m like, wow, I really look like a mom now!
Jewell: And Harmony [would] be like, what do you mean? You are a mom? And I’m like, no, I really look like a mom now. So, even though… Here’s the thing mamas, even though we kind of miss our younger selves, like, this life isn’t so, it’s not so bad, it’s not a bad life either, you know? If you learn to embrace the life you have now? I truly believe that God gives us our children to remind us how much He loves us. And I want to repeat that, ok? God gives us our children to remind us how much He loves us. You know, as challenging as it is to parent, it is far more rewarding and fulfilling, you know, to have children, than the challenges. We have to remember that our children were given to us to raise them to serve God. And that is something we have to remind ourselves. So, I may not cut their nails regularly as I have shared with you mamas, you know?
Emirick: Told you! Set a reminder on your phone!
Jewell: You know, I may not feed them the healthiest dishes…
Mariel: We were told! [Laughs]
Jewell: You know, I mean. [Laughs] Put a reminder on my phone [Laughs] And one day I’ll just see Hudson and be like, how come your nails look like that?! It’s like, I’m so sorry son! [Laughs] But mamas, let me tell you, I do know that or the most part, I try to teach them to be God-fearing. And this is where – hold on, I have to pause… because I start getting emotional – that our very purpose in life is to serve God. And I believe teaching our faith in God is one of the best parenting tools. I can’t emphasize that enough, you know? When our children have faith in God, it’s like the best thing ever! LIke, I’ll give you an example. Recently, my daughter gave me a gift for Mother’s Day. It was a book filled with positive affirmation and inspiration that she wrote, along with some pictures. And my favorite page that she wrote was, she goes, um… Mommy, whenever you’re feeling down, pray. We may not always be here, but God will always be there.
Jewell: And so it’s like, it’s like…
Jewell: God’s reminder. You know what I mean? How our children is His blessing, and how much He… He gives reminders to us through our children. And it’s like, when our children do these little things, you can tackle the next day over again with strength, you know what I mean?
Jewell: And so, it’s the best thing, you know, to be a mother, you know, all these blessings and fulfillment that we get… having our children.
Emirick: It sounds like she pa… you passed your identity, you know, on to her. You know, like, because that’s always been your identity, right? And it’s always been our identity is that we are, you know, we have strong faith in God, and we want to do what God wants us to do all the time. And so like even though like other… these little insignificant pieces of our identity… identity gets lost… quote unquote lost, we always have that. And I love what you’ve shared because it just shows that, like, you’ve passed that identity, that strong part of your identity, to your children as well. And so, you know, we don’t need to be sad about who we were before we had kids.
Bernie: Right! Mhm.
Emirick: Because we can continue to evolve to become better, you know? I think that we all have to realize that it isn’t about trying to get your identity back. I mean, you can try, but I think you’d be missing out on a lot of growth if you’re trying to be the same person you were before kids.
Emirick: Right? It’s about allowing yourself to evolve into a new and improved identity. I went through many phases and, like I shared with you guys, I did struggle in the beginning, when my kids were little. But at some point, I allowed myself to just, you know, just go through these phases, and these ever evolving identities. I was a stay at home mom, I used to plan PTA functions and play dates. I went and got my Masters Degree in Educational Leadership. Then I started writing plays for Children’s Christian Theatre at Church. I read a ton to improve myself, to make myself a better mom, and now, in this part of my journey, I get to hang out with you ladies on these podcasts!
Emirick: And um, you know, help other mamas! So, it’s been a beautiful journey, and I know that there’s more to come. So, motherhood may have prevented me from keeping my old identity, and I did mourn it for a little while. But when I decided to let go and just go with the flow, the journey has been just such a beautiful one. And I know I’m a much better person because of it.
Jewell: Emirick, I really love how you said that you… it’s like you’re transferring your identity through your children. It’s like you – it’s so true! Like, you’re… you’re, you’re, you’re legacy, how you were, you’re now seeing it through your children, and we don’t realize that that’s what we’re doing, so thanks for sharing that!
Emirick: [Laughs] And, you know, hopefully they’re upgraded versions? You know? I don’t want my kids [inaudible]
Emirick: and stuff! But definitely the important parts, right? The important parts of who we are get transferred into these little beings…
Emirick: … and then we get to see them grow.
Emirick: … and take another, like uh, take another spin on it! [Laughs] It’s beautiful.
Bernie: Yeah. That. Girl. Yes. Girl. Yes. So, you know, for all our listeners out there, what are you struggling with? Remember, you’re going to be fine! And yes, mamas, we are tired! But we are also inspired by this motherhood stuff, and you know what? It’s absolutely… it’s OK if you miss your old self! It’s absolutely OK. And it’s OK if you want to have some “me” time, or try to get some parts of your identity back. But, you know, the one thing that, you know, we all have to remember, for all you mamas out there, that, you know, you’re a mom now. And that in itself is a blessing.
Mariel: Well, thank you, ladies, for sharing your stories and advice. And it was so nice hanging out with you all. And I hope our listeners gained some valuable insight through all of this!
Bernie: Absolutely. Thank you for…
Emirick: This is totally my number 2! Hanging out with you guys!
Mariel: Did I just have “self” time?
Emirick: Wait, this is our number 2! Self-time! Oh no, this is number 3!
Mariel: Yay! “Me” time!
Emirick: “Me” time!
Mariel: “Me” time success!
Jewell: Therapy session time!
Mariel: Exactly. And hey! We just had ourselves a clinical psychologist help us out, so thank you again Dr. Sydney Fontanares for your help, and thank you everyone for listening today! Bye!
Mariel: And to our moms out there, thank you so much for listening to this Faith and Family podcast. You can listen to our other podcasts where we tackle How to Communicate with Toddlers, Understanding Your Spouse’s Love Language, Fostering Kindness in our Children, and many many more on INCMedia.org/Faith-and-Family. Um, we can also listen to it on iHeartRadio, Google, and Apple Podcasts.