Motherhood and the Loss of Identity

Before I had my daughter, I had a very active life. I went to concerts, on road trips with my best friend, took at least two trips a year, went camping every few weeks, and just all around had an active life. Since I had my daughter, my social life is more or less non-existent. Of course, COVID hasn’t helped with that. I always envisioned myself as the type of mother who still goes and does everything with other friends and family that have kids. I always envisioned having a large group of friends who are like family, who go on monthly camping trips or road trips, family trips to the beach or Disney. So far, that has not panned out. Motherhood has felt somewhat isolating, and COVID has only added to that isolation.

As I’m sure many mothers can tell you, motherhood is isolating. When you have a baby you get all caught up in all the things about your baby. You are mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. You aren’t sleeping, the baby isn’t sleeping. You aren’t getting any downtime. You are “on duty” 24/7. It’s exhausting. Because of your exhaustion, other aspects of life begin to take a toll. You are cancelling plans if they aren’t baby friendly. Maybe there isn’t anyone to watch your baby while you go, so it’s not feasible to go with a baby. The baby is sick, which potentially means that you are sick as well, so you can’t go. Some of your friends don’t have kids, and don’t like being around kids, so you don’t go. The meet up with your friends is during nap time, so you don’t go. Your kiddo screams every time they get in the car, so you don’t go. You don’t have the money to go. There are a million reasons, each one valid. And, while valid, the reasons add up and you find yourself more and more isolated. Before you know it, it’s been a year since you went out and got out of the house other than doing the grocery shopping or working, and at this point what do you even say when you reach out to your friends? “I’m sorry,” just doesn’t cut it, does it? They wont even understand. They will just think you don’t want to be friends anymore. So much has happened that you don’t even know how to relate to them anymore. Your only topic for conversation is your baby.

Add COVID to the mix. We have mostly stayed home during this time of COVID. We have had very few playdates, and I have had almost zero time with my friends. I have been unable to do the things I enjoyed due to lock downs and restrictions. Even when my husband did buy me a concert ticket last year for my birthday, we ended up not going because the venue would have been a shoulder to shoulder experience full of unmasked and unvaccinated people.

Add post partum depression to the mix. I have no desire to get out of bed most days. I do, and I go to work. I come home, eat dinner. Then we lay the baby down and I get back in bed. I always say to myself, “today I am going to read. Today I am going to write. Today I am going to workout. Today I am going to…” and the list goes on and on. Today comes, and I do the same thing. Lay in bed as much as physically possible for me to do so. It’s a never ending cycle. I need to be more active to have more energy, but I lay in bed because I have no energy.

I don’t even enjoy the things that used to make me so happy. I used to love reading, and hiking, and music. I do not enjoy those things anymore. I have nothing of my old self left. I have no desire to find a new hobby, I just want to enjoy the things that I used to enjoy. I feel tired and grumpy all the time, whereas I feel that I used to be a pretty happy person with a well balanced life. Now, I just feel empty. I feel like a shell of the person I used to be, and I don’t know how to make it better. I don’t know how to get back to who I used to be. Maybe there is no going back, maybe I just have to pick up where I am now. I don’t want to be a shell. I want to see happiness in the entire day, not just when I’m with my daughter and she is awake. I want to have joy in my life, and I need to find things that “fill my cup.”

I guess the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. For now, I am planning to find a therapist to help work through some of my emotional issues, and hope for the best that everything else will follow.

Love to all,