I held my son through another meltdown and felt my own tears welling up. I knew becoming a mom for the first time would be hard as my transition to motherhood already included miscarriage, infertility, and international adoption. My tears during this tantrum weren’t just from physical exhaustion of motherhood. They came from a place of loneliness, frustration, and fear. I found no joy in motherhood and felt like I had lost my identity.
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The Birth of a Mother
For years, my identity was rooted in my current life status or profession: child, student, new professional, wife. Other times, I claimed my personality as my identity. “I am a shy, introverted woman.” Becoming a mom for the first time brings about new experiences and emotions that seem to overshadow all of these roles. After adopting our son, I found no time for myself. I struggled with anxiety; my thoughts were consumed with my son’s wellbeing and my own abilities to parent well. Everything felt new and different.
There is a concept called the fourth trimester which describes the adjustment period for newborns. Life outside of the womb is filled with unknowns for this tiny person who is still rapidly growing. In the same way, when a baby is conceived or a child joins a family through adoption there is also the birth of a mother. Yes, other roles may have helped prepare you for the transition to motherhood, but being a mom is still unique from all other experiences. For many, the birth of a mother or becoming a mom for the first time means rediscovering yourself after motherhood. I decided to look inward and reflect on my new motherhood identity.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 CSB
Motherhood Identity Crisis
With the transition to motherhood leaving me lost and confused, reflecting on my identity lead to a motherhood identity crisis. There was no time for myself or the goals I had set. I didn’t feel that I was thriving and was unsure of who I even was anymore. I had lost my identity.
During my struggles with infertility and then again during the adoption process, I placed much value on the role of motherhood. I longed to be a new mom, holding my child. Driving to work, I would picture a baby in the backseat or dreamed up what my stay at home mom schedule would look like. I idealized this dream role.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 CSB
In the midst of my motherhood identity crisis, God showed me that I had placed too much value on my new role. Becoming a mom for the first time showed me that I didn’t just idealize motherhood, I idolized it. Yes, motherhood is a wonderful, missional calling, but the more I focused on motherhood as my identity, the more I lost sight of my Creator.
In the midst of my motherhood identity crisis, God showed me that I had placed too much value on my new role. #motherhood Click To Tweet
Becoming a Mom for the First Time? Know Your True Purpose
After becoming a mom for the first time, I lost my identity because I was looking at myself and not at the ultimate standard of all things worthy of my attention.
Jen Wilkin encourages moms to not look inward, reflecting on the transition to motherhood or fretting over how motherhood changes you. Instead, we should look outside of ourselves.
“You can tell me that I stir the heart of God, that I am sung over and delighted in, that I am beautiful in his eyes, that I am set apart for a sacred purpose. You can tell me these things, and you should. But I beg you: Don’t tell me who I am until you have caused me to gaze in awe at ‘I Am.’” Jen Wilkin, Women, Trade Self-Worth for Awe and Wonder
People telling me that I was doing a good job wouldn’t satisfy. My hope would never be secure in rediscovering myself or figuring out my new motherhood identity. We will never understand our true identity and who we are until we know the One who we are designed to reflect. Genesis 1:27 (ESV) says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
This is my calling and true identity, to faithfully reflect and worship my good, almighty God.
“The way in which we have been created truly has to do with this fundamental, biblical conviction that we are reflectors. We are images. We are mirrors, if you will. And so that whole metaphor of the human being that reflects its environment, reflects its context, reflects its idols, reflects its God is absolutely core from the beginning to the end of the canon. And so in the beginning, ordinarily, what we call worship — worshiping God faithfully, truly, — is also a matter of our identity. That is what we are created for. That is who we are.” John Piper, Why We Never Find Our Identity Inside of Ourselves
My true calling and identity as a new mom are to faithfully reflect and worship my good, almighty God. #motherhood Click To Tweet
Becoming a Mother Changed My Life
If you are becoming a mom for the first time, know that finding yourself after baby means losing yourself in Christ. For me, rediscovering yourself after motherhood meant reminding myself of the Gospel. Through the death of Jesus Christ, I am able to have a personal relationship with my Creator! I increased the time I spent striving to know Him better through spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible reading. Reflecting on stories of His past faithfulness and praising His future goodness to me led to looking inward less often. Instead of self-reflection resulting in more anxiety and unanswered questions, I found joy and hope in knowing God.
Becoming a mother changed my life because I was changed. No one can gaze upon the one and only Holy God without being left marked by the experience. My parenting changed as I focused less on finding myself and more on giving God glory. The joy of being a mother is found not just in the rich calling of being a mom, but also in introducing your children to their amazing Creator, daily reflecting Him to them.
New mama, turn today from your identity struggles and find your purpose by fixing your eyes on the One who created you.
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