Becoming a parent, for many of us, causes a deep volcano-like rumbling inside our sense of self. We start asking questions like, "Who am I anymore?" And "Who was I before?" and "Am I ever going to be me again?"
Having a child fundamentally changes your life. And there's no instruction manual to guide you through the process. No longer could I run out for late night snack at Popeye's or Cook Out (just because). My 8:30 pm shopping runs/date nights on Tuesdays are now Saturday morning walks and solo-trips to the store. Life is little more complicated; a little more chaotic.
If you're like me, (and you may not be), you've noticed some changes in yourself - perhaps in your desires and ambitions, perhaps also in your interests and the things that fill your time. Maybe you're more interested in eating healthy foods and exercising than you were before baby. Maybe you're suddenly interested in developmental psychology and you're geeking-out over early child-hood development research (No? Just me?). Maybe you've gotten sudden motivation to get a higher paying job or you want to quit your job and stay home. If you've had a child during a really stable period of your life, maybe the transition was actually way harder than you expected.
Everything was going well, you knew what to expect, and then WHAM! This tiny human turned everything upside down. There's a new life in your life and you're experiencing a new season. What do you do now?
Here are some questions that I asked myself when I was first searching to find the new me; the me-with-kids rather than the me-without-kids. These are hard questions and took some time for me to answer. Don't feel like a failure if you don't have the answers. It's a good thing to take your time thinking through these and other questions you're having. If you have a journal or a spot where you record your thoughts, these would be a great addition.
Where am I finding my personal value?
How am I different than before? How am I the same?
What is giving me personal satisfaction?
How am I coping with stress?
My one point of caution for you - if the baby in your arms is your answer to finding personal satisfaction, value, or coping with stress, then this is going to be a rocky road ahead. Why? Because your baby is their own little person and you're still you! You won't be able to find satisfaction living your life vicariously through your child(ren). And this is really GREAT news.
I'm a journaling kind of person, so I tend to doodle while I think and think and think and then when I settle on an answer to a question, I write it down. My memory may fail me, but my journal reminds me of all my past revelations and gives me confidence moving forward. If you're not a paper-and-pen kind of person, make notes on your phone, save a private FB or insta- post, text your BFF, or start a document on your computer that you can open up again later.
Being confident in your parenting choices, your personal choices, and your role as parent is paramount. This brings calm to the chaos and helps you get in sync with your baby. My encouragement: spend the time to thoughtfully explore your inner dialogue, answer these and other questions about who you are now and who you were 'before kids'. It's worth it.