Mommy Self vs. Me Self: The War Within

I became a mom at age 38—just about 6 weeks before turning 39. Most of the time, I think that having my child later in life has been a blessing. I have had time to travel, to try out different careers, have some fun, and find out who I am as a person.

I have always felt that being secure in who I am and content with what I do has made me a better mom. Since I feel fulfilled as a person, I am happier; therefore I can be a better mom to my child. I think it worked out best for me.

I find my individual identity under siege from the Mommy identity. Sometimes I feel like I am clinging to an unraveling rope to prevent myself from being submerged completely. I strive desperately to carve out time in the day to pursue things important to me, career goals I have for myself, and get my head above the surging Mommy waters rising around me.

I have thought lately that this striving to keep my own identity apart from Mommy might be a large part of the stress and friction I am currently experiencing in motherhood.

Would it have been easier if I had become a Mommy earlier in life, when I was still forming my identity? Would I have been able to intertwine the two parts of myself so they grew simultaneously? Would the two parts of me have grown together to form a more integrated whole, without the struggle to maintain myself I face today?

My husband pointed out that I work from home, while our daughter is home. That is undoubtedly part of the friction issue. As he said, if I went to an office each day and she went to daycare, there wouldn’t be the constant bumping heads of her needs and mine—at work I would be able to just…work (although I know there’s a whole different kind of stress in being a mother who works away from home).

Another factor is undoubtedly my age. If I were in my 20s or early 30s, I would not feel so much pressure from myself to pursue my writing career with the vigor I am today. I would not mind the idea of taking a few years off until my daughter is in school full time, because I would have felt like I had time to catch up, as it were. While 40-something is certainly not old, there is a ticking-clock pressure from within me because I know I do not have “all the time in the world.” So I feel an urgency connected to keeping my career moving forward that I might not have felt if I were 10 years younger.

How about you, other parents out there—do you have a constant battle within to define yourself apart from your offspring?

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