I'm terribly distracted today. No, it's not a bad case of Monday-itis. Nor is it the heat (I am from Vegas after all!!). It 's a bit of a funny day for me. Yesterday, my poor pooch got attacked by another dog in the park. Oddie is the friendliest, happiest soul and it was pretty awful to watch her run away crying.
We didn't get back from the vet until almost midnight, so it was a late night as well as an emotional one. The nurse was dealing with an emergency, so I helped the vet pop in ten staples, total flashback to being 19 and working for a vet! Today, the emotions continued. My baby boy, my youngest child, turned 21. 21. No longer a child really. Not that he has been for a long time. He's incredibly mature and has been on the cusp of manhood for more than a few years. As our children get older and need us less and less, we have to allow a new relationship with them to develop. We have to learn to set them free while ensuring they know that we are always there while they build their new, independent lives. Which means we have to build a new relationship with ourselves. I've worked with a fair few women who are struggling after having a baby. It's a prime time to get hit with an identity crisis.
If you’ve had kids, you’ll remember what that first year was like. You felt exhausted all the time. You kept wondering why you didn’t get an instruction manual with your little darling.
You felt guilty. About everything.
Everybody else made it look so easy.
Maybe, like me, you had a “helpful” mother-in-law. Mine’s idea of helping when I couldn’t get my daughter to sleep through the night was to tell me she use to put her first born in a push chair and look her in the kitchen at night so she didn’t keep everyone up! They did things differently back then obviously 😊
You put everything and everyone else first – kids, partner, pets, job, housework. But as our kids don't need us as much, well that's an identity crisis waiting to happen as well. All those decades ago, when I felt like I was losing myself as I became a mother, who would have thought I would feel the same way now?
So much more free time now that all those school runs and afterschool activities are gone. The worries over fitting in, exams and changing schools.
Stable, happy children that are thrilled with their new jobs in London. My little boy who only started in May at his new job has been promoted already!
My daughter has a great job in London as well and is in a great relationship with a lovely boy who I know will support her and back her in everything she does.
My job with the two of them is pretty much done.
Yes, I will always be here for them and there will be times when they will need me almost as much as when they were young.
And I'm pretty sure we've still got a few adventures left ahead of us!
I have worked all the way through since I had my daughter. But I have been first and foremost a mother. With the one that I had, being a mother is the most important thing I will ever do.
A huge chunk of my identity has been torn away from me. Luckily, I'm much more self-aware now than when I brought my firstborn home, looked at her in her moses basket and thought “What the hell do I do now?”.
I've done the work.
What's an identity crisis look like?
Nowadays, I can recognise the emotional turmoil. I can address it. I can feel that tug of fear, of my mind saying "But if you're not needed that much by your kids, who does that make you?" And I can quiet my mind by telling it, "I don't know who that makes me now. But I'm sure going to enjoy finding out!"
Did you know most of us will go through more than one identity crisis in our life? They happen after any big life event we have – becoming a mother, the death of a parent or partner, a divorce, the loss of a job we loved.
How do we recognise an identity crisis?
Well, you find yourself saying things like “I just don’t feel like me anymore.”
You get stuck, you lose your way.
You struggle to figure out what your next step should be and you may end up in a total state of freeze, completely unable to make a decision about anything.
The fabulous Michael Beckwith defines it so well as “the dark night of the soul”. You are no longer the person you were, not yet the person you’re becoming.
You lose your footing and feel untethered.
Tips for dealing with one
💥 Accept that you're going through a difficult time and that you will come out the other side, stronger and more self-aware.
💥 This is a great time to check in with your values and interests. Make sure you're living your life according to your values and that you're have a well-rounded life that encompasses people and work you love, hobbies/interests that you're passionate about and self-growth.
💥 Re-evaluate your goals for your life. These change as we change.
💥 Get some support. Talk to a trusted friend or a coach.
💥 Make time for your mental health. Make yourself and your self-care a priority. Sleep, get outside, move, do things that bring you joy, be around people.
💥 Stay optimistic about the future. Everyone goes through this and these times of change help us create a life we'll love!
Now if anyone needs me, I've got a cake to birthday cake to bake...