Written by Jan Watson, Christian Life Coach
One of the funniest conversations I’ve ever heard was a couple preparing to leave the hospital with their first newborn child… “These people are crazy… they are telling us to take this baby home, expecting us to ‘parent’ her when we have absolutely no experience being one… Seriously. Who does that?”
It took me back to the time years ago when I first became a mom. Like so many women, the arrival of my first child was the fulfillment of a dream I’d had since childhood. Playing house, I was the mommy, and I made all the decisions with 100% compliance from my dolly child. I looked forward to the day I would be a real mommy! There was a lot of celebrating the day my husband and I welcomed our first child into our family. Psalm 127:3 tells us “Children are a gift from the Lord…” and we were in awe of this precious little boy whom God had created just for us. He was adorable…
Then, somewhere in the midst of this joy, a sobering reality began to set in… I was no longer the person who I thought I was. This was very different than “playing” house. No longer would I have 100% compliance with every decision. And probably more unsettling was the fact that I no longer had total control over my schedule, my activities, even my body. I wondered… was becoming a mother stealing who I was, what I did, essentially stealing my identity?? Many of my plans and expectations were not happening and, frankly, were not going to happen in the foreseeable future! Coming to grips with this new role was quite unsettling. There began to be an identity shift…one I was not completely prepared for.
Unlike most jobs, this position of being the mommy offers very little opportunity for preparation. It’s all on-the-job training with no option of giving two weeks notice to quit. So, after the first few months of awe and wonder, the newness can wear off. This motherhood job becomes the new normal, and you start to wonder if your previous identity—the one you were so familiar with—has been lost. You miss the part of your life where you were doing more things God specifically designed for you… You don’t even get time to yourself…much less for yourself! It does not matter how good you are at being mom or how prepared you thought you were; it can feel isolating and so unproductive.
As a life coach, my passion is helping people get clarity about who they are uniquely designed to be so they can navigate the different seasons of life with clarity, confidence, and courage to live the life God has planned for them. Who God designed you to be doesn’t change…but the seasons of your life do change. Discovering what that looks like for you is crazy energizing!
Taking the gifts, talents, and experiences with you into this new motherhood role can bring you so much satisfaction. I’ve seen a new mom use her innate gift of teaching with such intention. Instead of listening to the radio, she talks to her toddler in the car seat using the questioning strategies she has learned and enjoyed professionally as they are driving. The interior designer I know gets lost (in a good way!) designing the nursery and each succeeding bedroom stage for her kids. Another young working mom, experienced in project management, creates a spreadsheet recording every detail of the monthly well-checks. A new mom whose love for athletics continued into adulthood is looking forward to coaching her daughter’s soccer team, and another competitive swimmer has her 18 month old navigating the water with great confidence. And then there is the mom with a corporate leadership background who decided to consciously view her family as a mini-corporation… She is experiencing a deep satisfaction in this season when she can no longer put in 60 hours at the office and travel the world…
So, yes… in a sense, your identity is not the same, but it’s definitely not lost or stolen. Becoming a mother adds to your identity… It doesn’t take away. What a blessing!
Then—how do we navigate this changing identity? Can we even hope to celebrate it in the midst of the confusion? I have studied and been fascinated by brain science. I am completely in awe of the way God has designed and wired us. The human brain is an amazing organ, fearfully and wonderfully made! Today’s neuroscience has shown that we experience situations as either positive or negative according to the “lens” we choose to see them through. So, as your role is changing and feeling so unfamiliar, know that you can make it a wonderfully positive experience. How can I be so sure? Because Scripture spoke to this “lens” long before modern science made its discovery.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8
Yes, God is explaining to us the power of the mind and how to THINK. He is the author of brain science! This new identity doesn’t have to be a struggle. In fact, it need not be a struggle at all! The God of the Universe is right there offering us peace.
How? Look at my favorite part of this passage of Scripture. Look at the words following …whatever is noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable—the words if ANYTHING. Anything. Yes! If just anything is praiseworthy or excellent—think about such things!
So, when absolutely nothing around you seems noble, right, lovely, or even admirable:
- Sleep has been non-existent.
- No shower today…or yesterday…
- Nothing is planned for dinner.
- There appears to have been skirmishes all over the house!
- You feel defeated or alone…
You can still experience the promise of walking with God in peace.
You can choose to focus your mind on the one excellent and praiseworthy gift you have been given. The gift of being the mother of this precious child chosen specifically for you!
Claim Philippians 4:8… Believe Philippians 4:8 to be true, and with intentionality, fight off the enemy as he tries to invade your thoughts. You must not allow your identity to feel like it’s being stolen. The more you focus on anything praiseworthy, the more you will find! Spend time with the Lord asking Him to show you where the gifts and talents he gave you can be used in this new season you are in… and plan to continue to grow. Then watch as that fear of losing your own unique identity disappears and is replaced with the wonderful anticipation of the days to come.
Yes…your identity will be changing—but it will not feel like a bad thing. It’s an identity that grows your heart, and you experience a love you could not even have envisioned before becoming a parent. You will embrace Ephesians 3:20-21:
To Him who is able to do abundantly, immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine in Christ Jesus; To Him be the Glory forever and ever. Amen!
It’s worth the exchange.
When you are armed with God’s plan, this new “motherhood struggle” will usher in a beautiful new identity. It will not have been stolen; it will be one of your choosing. Your new identity will be one that incorporates the way you were uniquely designed before this new child arrived, and adds new priorities which make putting some things on the back burner—if only temporarily, but so worth the price!
Jan Watson is a Christian Life Coach with a master’s in Christian Psychological Studies. She spent many years as a public school teacher and has a lifelong relationship with learning. She and her husband, Jim, have been married for 50 years with three adult children and six grandchildren. She has a passion for helping people gain clarity about who they are uniquely designed by God to be, and helping them find their way to be that person regardless of their season in life.