This question should be very logical. My name is Claire. It also happens to be no less than 9 other variants, nicknames and what ever a barista misinterprets Claire as on any given day. The two most important - CLAIRE and MUM.
So, who are you?
Before I had my son, the above list was much shorter - maybe four. Now that I've got you pondering over who you ar - I wonder, how many of us are in similar boats? Who we are isn't as cut and dry as our name or Facebook profile.
We receive advice left, right and centre at all ages of parenting, however, there is one thing no-one can prepare you for. Why? Most of the time it takes looking back on reflection to notice and it is such a deep personal journey, most of us don't even realise we are not alone, it happens to all of us.
THE NEW YOU
It takes time to see it. There is no light switch at birth that flicks on. It is gradual. Observations such as "I never saw myself doing this as a parent" come and go either unnoticed or laughed off. The moment might come during the recurring rat race of our day to day lives at any part of your journey. Differences you may notice between the new you and the old you may include -
Risk-taking: A more passive approach now, compared to before parenting
Personality: You may be more structured than laid-back
Mental Health: Post-natal Depression, Anxiety, OCD and other symptoms may increase.
Sense Of Humour: This could vary in many ways or potentially diminish
Sensitivity to the plight of others: This may increase
Self-Care: This could become less of a priority
Eating/ Drinking Habits: These are potentially adapted to a new routine or addition of new vices
Body Shape: At different stages of our lives, hormones will effect the shape of our bodies, our skin tone and firmness
Career: The priority of work could be effected at various times
Intimacy: Your drive and desires may diminish or lead to further exploration
For some of us, this new version of ourselves is welcomed and embraced, no matter the changes we make consciously or subconsciously along the way. Though for others, we may feel something to not be quite right. These feelings may appear present as -
A lack of purpose
Projecting a dislike of others behaviours, because we know we exhibit the same
Resentment toward our partner for a 'lack of awareness'
"Keeping up with the Jones's"
General feelings of dissatisfaction, without being able to identify exactly what it is about
Fantasising about affairs or different lifestyles
Trying different hobbies without being able to find your passion
Applying less effort
Change from extroversion to introversion or vice versa
Please don't panic if you are reading this and saying "Yes, this is me!" There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. It may just be that you feel that you have lost who you know as 'You' during your journey. As parents - Mums AND Dads - we all go through this to one degree or another. All is not lost. It takes reflection, sitting with our thoughts and feelings, then looking deep inside to see what truly lights our fire before we are able to identify what changes we need to make to find the right fit that makes you who you are.
This is not to say you will go back to being the 'Old You'. Through each stage of life, we bring wisdom and experiences that build upon who we are. We adapt and grow with this expertise. While you may choose to bring back aspects of 'Old You', they are enhanced by life since then.
For two-parent households this individual introspection may be more critical than for single-parent households. By having a deeper understanding of ourselves, we are able to articulate our needs and desires to our other halves, ultimately enhancing open, honest and empathetic communication, solidifying your bond and family unit.
For each and everyone of us, this journey is unique and personal to us. If you find you need someone to talk to in a non-judgemental, confidential environment, counselling is a great way to help make sense of your journey. Contact me today for an introductory phone call to see how The Health & Wellbeing Haven can help you find 'You' today.
The Health & Wellbeing Haven
0438 198 949