Gwen Stefani recently reflected on her experience as a first-time mom saying, “In the beginning, I didn’t want to think of myself as a mother,” she said. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute! Ain’t no hollaback girl is who I am!’ I had to learn to accept it.”
We feel you, Gwen. Motherhood not only changes a woman’s body and family life, it can also fundamentally change her identity in ways that feel foreign. In those fragile first months, it can be hard to recognize ourselves.
Want to find your footing after adding the title “mama” to you life’s resume? Here are 5 ways—
1. Shift your priorities.
To quote Faith Hill,
“Before, my career came first. All I had to think about was myself. Now my children prevail. It doesn’t mean my career is less important; I just have to position things differently.”
Work on the mentality of re-prioritizing your life: child or children, spouse, career, “me time,” dreams, everyday responsibilities—where do they all fall? Try a meditation to assist you in this process.
2. Educate yourself.
Understand the difference between postpartum depression and anxiety vs the uncertainties of your transition into motherhood. According to Postpartum Support International, “Approximately 15% of women experience significant depression following childbirth.” Read more from The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists about the signs, symptoms, and what you can do to treat postpartum depression. Reach out for help and talk to your partner if you feel you are experiencing symptoms of PPD.
3. Embrace going back to work, or being at home.
Colleen Campo, a licensed mental health counselor who specifically helps new mothers during this transition to new motherhood says, “A woman who first has a baby isn’t really thinking about reconnecting with her identity right away. For the first three months she’s in survival mode. But when she comes up for air and thinks about it, one way to reconnect with her identity is by going back to work or really embracing being at home.” Own this as part of who you are.
4. Be open minded to this new version of yourself.
Campo says, “I don’t think you ever get back to your identity but you develop a new identity. There are parts of you that are the same, but in some respect you have become a new person.” We grow and change significantly over the years, especially during monumental transitions in our lives. Being open to what this new version of yourself brings to the table will help you accept the fact that you’re different now, and show you that you’ve changed in amazing ways.
5. Create time for yourself.
Take some excellent advice from Mia Redrick, ‘The Mom Strategist‘ and bestselling author: “Create a weekly ritual that allows you some time alone—select the same day and time of the week and schedule this time on an ongoing basis.” This will do wonders for you as a woman, mother, and wife; everybody wins.
Redrick hit the nail on the head in saying, “Upon becoming pregnant, we moms are so focused on preparing for the new baby that we very seldom consider how to navigate this transition and how it’ll affect our own personal growth once baby is born.” So let’s make a pact, shall we? Let’s trade some of the ‘which stroller did you get?’ or ‘who are you going to use for a pediatrician?’ chatter in exchange for more conversation about our hopes, fears, and goals for ourselves once baby is here.
Here’s what Colleen Campo suggests:
“You take who you were before you were a mom and who you are now that you are a mom, and you sort blend the two together and form a new identity.”
This is a new chapter in our lives. Yes, we’re moms. But, let’s be honest, we’ll always have that hollaback girl inside of us, too.