I can’t remember the woman that I was before becoming a mother. She seems distant, and my memories of her subtly slip through the spaces of my fingers.

Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely in love with motherhood and the joy that it brings. I love my baby, but sometimes I miss myself. And I’m not talking about entirely missing who I was before having kids. I always wanted to be a mother, so some part of me understood that there would be a shift in my identity after becoming one. But I miss knowing myself. I miss being one with myself. After having kids, I feel like I’ve lost myself. And right now, it seems like I can’t find her.

Nothing has brought me greater joy than motherhood, but nothing has brought me greater grief than becoming a foreigner to my own skin.

Most times, I don’t know who I am beyond a body that has stretched to form a child and now spends endless moments catering to their wellbeing. I love watching this tiny human become their own person. I love knowing that I’m needed and that this precious baby depends on me. But sometimes I just wish that I could know myself in the process—and I wish others were more patient with me as I try to learn this new version of myself as well.

It seems like I’m alone most days with a child tugging for my attention, friends and family that don’t check in as often as they used to because let’s be honest, I’m slow to reply these days and sometimes others just don’t understand. That I’m struggling. That I’m in the middle of an identity crisis. That I’m faced with an ongoing battle of emotions that feel like they’re drowning me.

I know that I am not alone. I know that there are many mamas out there feeling the weight of these exact emotions, wondering if they are all alone. Well, I’m here to let you know that you are not alone. That this reality is universal and mothers everywhere share this pain.

So to the mama who feels lost in motherhood, who feels all-consumed by mothering, here are some tips on how to find yourself again.

Take a moment to yourself—daily.

Even if it’s just a mere 5 minutes. And I’m not talking about a minute to shower while the baby sleeps or to get the laundry folded while your partner tends to the kids. I mean do something that makes you feel good. Dance. Sing. Take a walk or listen to a motivational podcast. The more you take those tiny moments to spend with yourself, the more you’ll learn about this new version of who you are. And you’ll grow to love her more than ever before.

Lean on those around you.

I had a friend who used to tell me that in order to know and understand yourself, you have to have a community. Whether that’s your partner, your parents, your siblings or friends. Because others help to show you who you are. They bring out certain parts of you that you forgot about or didn’t even know existed. So lean on them. When you need to cry, when you want to laugh or when you just want someone else to fill space with.

Allow yourself to feel your emotions.

I know. Mom-guilt. It makes it almost impossible to thoroughly work through your emotions without feeling horrible or ungrateful. But the most important thing is to give yourself space to feel all your emotions. Because they’re valid. There was this whole person that you were before becoming a mother, and in a matter of 9 months (give or take), she was stripped away. Understand that even in the midst of loving motherhood and loving your little beings, you can mourn who you once were.

Give yourself grace, mama.

When you don’t like how you mothered yesterday. When you wish you would have responded to your toddler’s tantrum differently. When you find yourself wishing you could drop the baby off at your parents and go grab drinks with a friend. When it feels like the walls of your home are closing in on you. Give yourself grace. It doesn’t make you a bad mother for feeling this way. It makes you human, and guess what? That is just what your children need. A real, down-to-earth, sincere person with genuine feelings and genuine concerns. And trust me, they will appreciate you for your vulnerability more than you will ever know. So give yourself grace, mama. You will find yourself again.

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