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Who am I, again? Finding your (new) identity in motherhood and doing so guilt-free

Truthfully, I haven’t written more than to do lists and baby-led weaning meal plans since I became a mum. I’m now 13 months postpartum and still haven’t found ‘me’, or I should say, the ‘new me’, again.


As a writer and communications specialist by trade, I used to pride myself on being able to whip up 5,000 words in a day. On having laser focus and feeling the words come to me in a wave of inspiration. Nowadays, with an adorable, observant, and affectionate one year old by my side, those days are most definitely gone. Focus time is a thing of the past. It’s temporary and that’s okay. But in the moment, it’s hard to see past the present. To know when you’ll get to do those things you used to enjoy so much and to be proud of yourself for things beyond mothering. Maybe we don’t all feel that way and that’s okay, but for those that do, I’m one of you!


But in the moment, it’s hard to see past the present. To know when you’ll get to do those things you used to enjoy so much and to be proud of yourself for things beyond mothering.

Do you know what I wish it was more okay to talk about? The guilt of motherhood. After going through years of infertility treatment, I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. Now, when times are tough and I have no time for myself, why do I feel guilty for admitting things are hard? I wanted this. I want this. But really, we’re conditioned to feel bad if we admit we need a break. The world loves telling mothers, “time flies”, “they grow so fast”, “enjoy them while they’re young”. Sure, somewhat true. All completely insensitive to say when someone’s struggling to find balance and feeling bad about needing it and vocalising those needs.


Instead, I believe empathy and validating those feelings are what we need. Just like we try to gentle parent our way into breaking generational cycles with our children, we need to gentle reparent ourselves and each other. Admit how we’re feeling, be vulnerable, not shame or blame, but connect and know it’s perfectly normal and that this too shall pass. Whether it’s the voice in our heads telling ourselves we should feel guilty or the family member that tells you they had it worse—it’s okay to not be okay.


Instead of “time flies”, how about “I know things are tough right now, know that this is temporary and you’re doing so great”. Or, “I hear you, it’s normal and healthy to need time to yourself, your child will be okay without you”.


Spaces like Cafélias are where those comforting conversations can happen. The inclusive environment means parents and carers can come together and take a breath, together. Be able to keep both eyes on that hot cup of coffee while knowing that their child is tucking into developmentally appropriate, yummy food and thriving doing activities rich in sensory engagement, culture and language. All while being able to learn more about child development in drop-in sessions with experts and ask questions in a judgment-free zone.



Instead of “time flies”, how about “I know things are tough right now, know that this is temporary and you’re doing so great”. Or, “I hear you, it’s normal and healthy to need time to yourself, your child will be okay without you”.

It sounds like exactly what I need. And what could be the start of venturing out there for many of us looking for a sense of community on this rollercoaster ride that is parenting. It can be hard to leave the house some days, let alone meet other parents that just ‘get it’, or find spaces that nourish both yours and your child’s belly and mind.


But, as I sit here and type out my first piece of writing in over a year, I’m hopeful that things can change. That we’ll be able to find people and places that make us feel safe enough to share our struggles and that as a result, we’ll find the time to (re)discover who we are and explore our passions outside of parenting, guilt free!


Finding your identity after becoming a mother is a continuous work in progress. It’s the push and pull of the heart strings. It’s loving your little human with such ferocity that you can lose sight of yourself in the process. I think it’s important to point out though, that extortionate childcare costs and long nursery waiting list times in the UK and across the world mean that finding the time to find your identity, is a luxury many do not have. I myself am currently relying on my husband’s flexible work schedule to be able to sit down and string together my thoughts and write this—which is a privilege in itself.



Inaccessible childcare is definitely a big reason why mothers struggle so much with identity and guilt, but that’s an article for another day! For now, however you can and whenever you can, carve out moments for yourself and remember that it’s okay to need more than motherhood, if that’s how you find yourself feeling.


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from trying to do it all, it’s that I can’t. That it’s perfectly okay to let go, even a little bit. To share the load if you can and step back from spinning all those plates. Go ahead and drop a couple, I dare you!

 


Nikita Marwaha Kraetzig is a writer and mother to 13 month old Kaian. She was born and brought up in the leafy suburbs of London and has lived most of her adult life abroad, most recently in Berlin, where she learned the language and became German as well as British. She returned to the UK in 2021 and is currently parenting full time, aiming to return to work soon as a communications professional in the space, tech, health and climate fields


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