Passionate About the Westchester County Area
and the Moms Who Live Here

When Can I Stop Being a Mom and Start Being Me?

when-can-i-stop-being-a-mom-and-start-being-me_There are days when I can’t remember my life before my son. I think, what did I do when I didn’t have to mother him?  I have begun to define myself by this role and allowed being a “mom” to seep into other parts of my life.  At work, I mentor new teachers. At home, I dole out advice to friends (sometimes unsolicited). Even in romantic relationships, I have tried to mother or care for more men than I’d like to count.

But now, I am ready to give that title back.

Please don’t misunderstand and stop reading; I don’t want to give my son back. I just want to give back the niche I have carved for myself as  mother to one and all. It’s exhausting. We all know being a parent is a thankless job – so what happens when all of your jobs are thankless? It means you disappear. I have given away pieces of myself to sustain and nurture others, and I’m left feeling empty.

I used to love to read, act, and bake. Lately, I find myself reading more Eric Carle than anything else, acting like I’m not mad that my son spilled his second glass of milk (this time on his homework), and baking to bribe my students to work on their college essays. I am not unhappy or dissatisfied when I’ve completed these tasks – I love seeing the smile on my son’s face when he recites “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?” with me. But, it seems, these things that I used to get amusement and self-gratification from have now turned into tools I use to help others.

start-being-meEven when I’m alone with a glass of wine and my DVR, I’m brainstorming solutions to other people’s problems. I can’t escape it. So, I am hoping all the moms out there can help me answer the question: when and where do you allow yourself stop being a mom and just be you?

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22 Responses to When Can I Stop Being a Mom and Start Being Me?

  1. Debbie Murphy October 18, 2016 at 8:15 am #

    Nice job Kev. Very well written. The key to not losing yourself is making the time to do “you” things. For me it was gardening. An hour in the garden and I felt like a new person. For you it might be acting or writing or something else where you can stop being “mother.” You don’t want to change who you are, as that is what makes you special and connects you to others, but making time for the little things that you enjoy that aren’t mothering related goes a long way to making you feel whole.

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 18, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

      Thank you. Good advice – I am thinking about getting a Meyer lemon tree for inside, what do you think?

  2. Jen W October 18, 2016 at 11:42 am #

    Ummmm… YES!! I can TOTALLY relate 1000%. I have no clue who I even am anymore… :/ Zero advice, but you arent alone sista!!!

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 18, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

      Solidarity ✊?

  3. Sian CH October 18, 2016 at 11:51 am #

    Hello!
    Thanks for sharing such a brutally honest post. It is understandable that in becoming a mother at a relatively young age, that particular identity marker has taken root so strongly and spread to other aspects of your life. There’s a lot of growth and development that takes place in the 2nd half of your 20s and you had to do that within the parameters of motherhood. And single motherhood at that.
    I let this post sit with me for a while to try to figure out my thoughts. Here’s what I think about this as it relates to my experience in mothering.
    I was also a young mother. But when I lost my son and my marriage ended I made it a personal goal to findi myself again. Being a childless mother and 26 year old divorcée I wasn’t really sure who I was beneath all the layers of social structural shit and grief. Unfortunately that search also included a number of unsatisfying sexual encounters and ended prematurely when I got into a new relationship, but for what it’s worth there’s that. At least now I know what the search for self feels like.
    I became a mother again at 30. I don’t know how to articulate this but for me there was some palpable existential angst associated with becoming a mother at that age. And it made the longing to hold onto the pieces of me that I had crudely joined together over the years that much stronger. The me before I was mother was desperate to live on after the me as mother. And she refused to be bought out by the motherhood establishment.

    So I try to let her be. To not cramp her style, to let her have a share of my budget- for things like girls trips, makeup and top shelf human hair, books, dance lessons.
    She doesn’t get out much but when she does she is way more free-spirited, financially irresponsible, carefree and so curious. I try to carve out time to fully inhabit social roles outside of mothering. Roles like ‘girlfriends on a girls trip.’ Yes and not call home everyday (gasp). In being a full time grad student again I have also found a lot of space and opportunity to develop my identity as a thinker/researcher. Oh and we’re all grown ups here. I also enjoy being sexually submissive as a way of completely relinquishing the dominance inherent in our role as mothers. And hey if you’re a permissive mom, and relinquishing dominance is not a thing for you, I still say try it. ☺️

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 18, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

      Thank you for your honest, forthright advice. Girls weekend and financial irresponsibility I can do – the other stuff I’ll have to look into. Tehetehe

  4. Bobbie October 18, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    Yes! Maybe part of the problems is that the old us simply just isn’t the same anymore. As you mentioned even when doing ‘you’ things the mom spin gets added. I know for me that even when I take time to do things just for me there is part of me who just doesn’t enjoy it the same way as I used to. So bottom line is that you never stop being a mother once you are one- particularly if you were a nurturing person before too. You just need to find a new appreciation for it and find others in your life that appreciate it to, albeit friends or lovers. Or find people with no problems so you don’t have to help/mother them. Good luck with that last bit. 😉 Sorry I am of no help and if you do find a real answer by all means please share!

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 18, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

      You are perfectly helpful and right. I have changed I AM a new me (a person who is stronger and loves herself more) but I miss parts of the old me too.

  5. Jennifer October 18, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    I am not a mother but this blog spoke to me as a woman. I think sometimes a woman we feel the need to nurture those around us and it causes us to loose site of ower needs and goals. Thank you for this!

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 18, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

      Yes, thank you, and I agree wholeheartedly.

  6. Christina October 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    Wonderful job, Keveney! I think all mothers feel this to some extent – it goes without saying that we love our children more than anything – but parenting is HARD and it is draining to constantly be giving of ourselves. I agree with Bobbie that motherhood does change us – so it is natural for our new role/identity as a mom to bleed into everything we do. And in some ways that is ok! I recently read a book, “Listen” http://www.handinhandparenting.org/listen-five-simple-tools/ … while it did have a few good tools for parenting, what stuck with me most is how much emphasis they placed on what they called a “Listening Partnership – a way to replenish your energy for parenting. An exchange of listening time with another parent” – preferably not a spouse or even a friend … someone unbiased who can just listen. It sounds simple, but may be worth a try? Maybe it would help release some of the pressures and stress so that you can still enjoy and find those hobbies you used to love more satisfying. Or maybe try to find a new hobby or schedule time just for yourself. Even if you have to get a sitter, and even though there are a million other things that need to be done. Easier said then done, I know! For me, exercise, staying up later to read a chapter or two of a book that is purely for enjoyment, and having a group of friends to go out with helps. I belong to a bookclub with several other women – and even though we usually only talk about the book for a little while, and spend most of time talking about our kids … or the pressures of motherhood, it is truly cathartic. Good luck and I look forward to following along on your blogging journey!

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 18, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

      Book clubs are a great idea – maybe I’ll use your suggestion as the kick off read?! Thank you

  7. Amelia A October 18, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

    Love this! As a new Mom I love that you can put into words what I’m feeling!

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 18, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

      Thank you so much for your encouragement and support.

  8. Hallie October 18, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

    Thank you for this! I was actually just thinking of “the old me” this morning… These days I have a total of about 2 hours outside of my house alone (this is the time I spend riding my bike to and from work everyday.) My daydream this morning was of how nice it would be to take a trip totally by myself… No husband, no baby, no friends, just me. When I was in my 20s pre baby and husband I would travel on my own frequently. Now a small part of me feels guilty for even wanting this freedom and having the daydream. I think the first step is to give ourselves space for the “old us”… Budget for travel on our own or with friends, plan to bake for someone other than your students, and keep buying top shelf human hair!.. I think we are better mothers when we are first kind to ourselves. Great post!!!

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 19, 2016 at 8:47 am #

      Go on that trip! Then write about it so I can be inspired! Thank you in advance 😉

  9. Reen October 18, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    Awesome & articulate, Keveney! I like meditation. Quietly concentrating only on my breathing for 10-30 minutes. Of course, we have to make time for this or any other self care daily.

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 19, 2016 at 8:45 am #

      Thank you – I have been thinking about meditation recently (after watching Alaska on RuPaul’s Drag Race do it and win) !

  10. Val October 18, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

    THANK YOU Keveney for saying what needs to be said more often. I often compare motherhood to teaching in the sense that I’m a better teacher when I follow my passions and take time to care for myself. I want my son to know me for who I am, not just as a mother.

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 19, 2016 at 8:44 am #

      Good life advice Val. Thank you.

  11. Kristin L October 19, 2016 at 7:08 am #

    This is great conversation. It is a fine line. Trying to hold on to our identities when we have our own tinies and not be left a huge void of confusion when our kids no longer need us to wipe their butts or tie their shoes or ensure that they are eating the proper nutrients.

    While service for others cannot be undervalued.

    I also believe that our identity or self needs to be rooted in something larger, deeper and more rich. Life can change so quickly that we must have a strong hold to the larger meaning. I think as a mom we often dont allow ourselves the time and space to reflect, meditate or look inward to really investigate who we really are and our “soul” becomes lost. We are not paying attention to our deep bits and that gives us a feeling of anxiety of wandering and restlessness.

    When all else fades away (our beauty, health, loved ones, careers, money)….what is left?

    • Keveney
      Keveney October 19, 2016 at 8:51 am #

      I have really been thinking about this in reference to my own mother. What does she do for herself? Nothing. So who is she? When I try to describe her I can only think of: Mother and Grandmother. What if we move to Mars in 2020? Who will she be then? And – if I am being honest (where better place to be then on my first scary, honest blog post) is she happy? I don’t think so. Thanks for making me think this morning Kristin.