{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Question: I’ve seen so many women get in mommy mode and throw their hobbies, careers, everything to the side as soon as a baby arrive. I don’t want to do that and in my mind I feel that I’ll still get to be myself. Does being a mom naturally make you lose your previous identity? It’s hard enough trying to move up within our roles but is this naturally in us?", "post_id": "5fb6116e644df500203870a1", "reply_count": 21, "vote_count": 12, "bowl_id": "59e88be7e2808e00149b0443", "bowl_name": "Women In Consulting" }

Question: I’ve seen so many women get in mommy mode and throw their hobbies, careers, everything to the side as soon as a baby arrive. I don’t want to do that and in my mind I feel that I’ll still get to be myself. Does being a mom naturally make you lose your previous identity? It’s hard enough trying to move up within our roles but is this naturally in us?

likesmart
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No, but it does make you reasses your priorities. You can't really put yourself first in many situations anymore. And sometimes it is just not worth maintaining 100% of the social obligations you had pre-children. My friends sometimes wonder why I am can't just 'hire a sitter' to make a meal with them. The truth is that sometimes a casual dinner isn't worth the stress and hassle of £100+ in babysitting, taxis, and routine disruption. I pretty much only go out at night for very special occasions, and even though I am a huge extrovert, this does not really bother me. Also this has a lot to do with individual and societal expectations. If you look to some other cultures (e.g., France, Netherlands, Denmark),1) you can see that parents are valued as individuals and not just parents 2) they are encouraged to have lives outside their children and 3) they don't have a culture of 'intensive parenting' as commonly present in the US, UK, Asia. I think a lot of the behaviour you are describing is an end product of number 3 and the guilt many parents experience with it. FWIW I still have the same hobbies as before children, but I don't necessarily participate in the same capacity.

likehelpfulsmart

I really appreciate your comment. That really makes sense. I’ve kept my neice for a summer (I know it’s nothing the same as FT parent but she’s 6. Due to Covid I was finally able to spend some time with her) and it was pretty much easier to only attend things with friends that really required my presence versus moving her from the routine she and I had not to mention expenses and safety concerns regarding finding someone to take care of her without me worrying. I feel that most naturally adjust to the best flow for them but you most definitely have a point about cultures. In the US, parents are easily guilted for still being able to find a balance that works for them. I know parenting styles vary by person. Thanks a lot. My mom and aunts pretty much dropped everything when she had us and as we became older they starting showing different sides of them and I just wanted to figure out ways to reduce that potentially. We’re in the south so that could also play a role. Thanks again!

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I'm not a mom, but it's probably less "throwing it to the side" and more "prioritizing the development and emotional attachment of a child when they're the most impressionable they will ever be, while in an individualist society that makes it almost prohibitively expensive to have routine help in parenting" I think you might find that mommy mode is just prioritizing familial health and relationships over everything else. Some of us do this now, taking care of grandparents, babysitting cousins, etc instead of ladder climbing because this is just what we think is important. If you're going to have a family, hopefully it's more important to you than the rest of it. It's possible you're mentally underestimating how much of a task childrearing is...

likehelpful

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I have also seen this. While i have definitely re-prioritized things, my husband and i are the type of people & team that gives each other space to maintain ourselves and our friendships as much as possible. By the time our son was 4 weeks old, we got a hotel for the night and went out downtown. We give our son to my mother in law every few months - one weekend away where we do whatever we want. Before covid, we each got one night a week minimum to go out on our own after work - id usually go to a bar and drink and play sudoku or meet a friend and my husband would play guitar/piano at home or go out with friends. When our friends invited us places, whether last minute or not, we made it happen every time. The other one just watched him while one went out. We had date night every wednesday night where we paid a sitter for a few hours. We also went to a brewery about once a week with our son. I take random pto days off so that while my son is under his normal care, i can go get stuff done for the house and go relax at a coffee shop or something. I will say that it takes effort to do any of this. Takes lots of open communication with SO to decide what works best for you both and what you need.

likeuplifting

I'm glad you added this part! Until my cousins had kids, I didn't really get how much focus and attention kids take. Hats off, always, to parents who are able, willing, and dedicated to prioritizing their kids. Our entire society depends on this, truly. Hopefully your friend gets that. I'm excited for my friends to have kids so I can take rounds being attentive to the kid as well, not just watch and judge 🤦🏿‍♀️

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OP you are coming across as extra judgey.

likehelpful

D1- only to you it seems. Op’s question is genuine.

Fair question. Having kids didn’t make me “lose my previous identity,” but it has completely changed my identity in a good way. Being a mother is a huge part of who I am now. Parenthood has shaped everything about my life, including my career - as my kids have gotten older (my eldest is in college), I’ve noticed that my parenting experiences seep into my job. I’m a more empathetic leader because of raising kids, I am better at multitasking, and I am better able to manage diverse teams. Having kids definitely changes you and it’s good that you are asking these questions before you start a family. I think what you are really asking is “can I still have a life after kids” - and while the answer is yes, undoubtedly your life changes significantly. I do have hobbies and an active career, but my priorities have changed and time management is always an issue. Most of my personal life is centered around my kids, but I enjoy it. For example, many of my good female friends are mothers of my kids’ friends whom I’ve gotten to know over years of sporting events and school activities.

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For me, I still have my “identity” (issues important to me, things I talk about, friends I text, entertainment I enjoy) BUT my 2 kids (under 3) takes up 98% of my brain space. I have to work extra hard to take a break and get a sitter to do the things I want to do. Most times I tell myself it’s not worth it and stay home. My friends group shifted a little. I have stronger bonds with my friends who are also parents, and can relate less to my single friends. It’s normal. Same thing happened when I got into consulting and some of my bartender friends and I just had less in common and less to talk about. My colleagues became my best friends. My identity continued to evolve. And I think it’s the same thing with motherhood, your identity doesn’t go away, it evolves. I will say, my mom friends with older kids (5+) have “regained” their freedom I guess, so even if you lose a bit of yourself at first, it’s only temporary.

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I don’t think it’s like suddenly having a personality change. The hormones aspect is real but is mostly during the newborn stage. I don’t remember feeling maniacally focused on baby post 6 months or so. I haven’t at all forgotten who I am or goals or hobbies, but I just don’t have the time anymore to do much outside of my kids and work. I’ve fought hard to hold onto the work aspect. The rest I hope to revisit when they don’t require near constant attention (thinking around age seven or eight; we’ll see).

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I think it’s a mix of two forces - on the one hand, you ARE a different person, with different priorities as many have pointed out. I truly do not care about going to the club anymore for example. But on the other - there are societal forces driving some of that behavior change as well. Mothers are still seen as default parents in most cultures around the world, which puts tremendous pressure on them to dial down everything else to do the lion’s share of caregiving. Recently someone asked me how I plan to travel post Covid, and I reminded that person that my baby has a father who doesn’t travel. So if the entire world thinks you’re only a good mom if you give up all else, that’s how you’ll operate to fit in. Resisting the second part takes a lot of effort, which I can attest to. But it’s doable if you have a thick skin.

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C1 thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can see your perspective of it being a balance and making things happen to make the flow easier on everyone. I had custody of my younger sibling a few years until starting college this year but at an older age it didn’t seem as realistic as it would be having a younger child or adjusting to a new baby to raise given the situation. There was much to shift around over the years but I can see your point in it being a decision to be made for the sake of being present in the developmental stages. I can only know what I’ve experienced so thanks for giving your input on the dynamics of how things have worked from your experiencs and exposure.

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It’s not really that, bit it’s a matter of TIME after you have kids. I had twins, and for the first 18 months I couldn’t even finish a sentence when with adults, before having to get up and do something for one of the twins. But that too, shall pass. Working really helps. You get up, get ready, put on nice clothes, get focused on other things and be with adults all day. It is important to keep other, outside interests. But it is hard to do that when the kids are younger. It comes back, you get your time back later.

Priorities change your dreams don’t! It may take a little longer to do some, but never give up your kids are worth the sacrifice you make in the short run!!

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