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The Mama Identity

So often when we become mothers, or parents, the focal point in our lives shifts onto the new beings who we're responsible for 24/7.  It's very easy to get caught up in the day to day activities and forget altogether about how life was before baby arrived.  Some folks say it's not worth reminiscing since things are different now, what's the point?  Others say it's important to remember your roots, as they are inherently your child's roots too.  So how do you connect with your pre-parenthood roots?  How do you maintain your identity aside from the "Mama Identity"?  One mother offers this story:

This mother is a rock and roll star.  I play in a band that has a regular gig at a popular venue in Portland.  I'm the only "chick" in the band, and the only parent, which means there isn't much talk about mothering/parenting issues -- nor is there more than talk about music, and "boy bantering," which is nice to have.

I love that my daughter can see me playing & singing up on stage, an equal w/ the guys, completely respected as a musician.  I love that she sees mama on stage and understands on some level that it's natural for a woman to be in the spotlight.  But the truth of the matter is, I would do it even if she didn't get that out of it.

In my experience, musical improvisation is hard, but parental improvisation is harder.  So getting together w/ the guys to play is a welcome respite.  It lets me use parts of my brain that don't get much of a workout otherwise.  And even though I'm a mom, I'm not staid.  I'm still a punk, I'm still a rude boy (girl).  I still thrill to the Sex Pistols and the first Pretenders album; I still like striking a pose and acting hard; I still delight in putting on a show, and showing off; I still dress for the occasion; I still feel vibrant and alive onstage,
and I don't feel the least bit bad that at this point in time, my daughter can only watch and not yet participate.

Do other mamas have something all to themselves that is not traditionally Mama-like, or directly beneficial to hearth/home/family?

Sometimes when I contemplate doing something that is frivolous or self-serving... mommy guilt looms over my head and I usually dismiss the idea.  Then again, sometimes I indulge the temptation.  Maybe it's just a w[h]ine night or perhaps a trip to the spa.  But nothing quite as exotic as being in a band.  How exotic is your indulgence?  How do you connect with yourself aside from your parental position?

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Remembering who "I" am is so important to me and so easy to forget. The thing that scared me most about being a mom was loosing my independence and spontaneity. I am definitely no longer spontaneous but I make an effort to remind myself that I am not only my own person; but that I have my own needs, & that my identity is not solely dependent on the very little person that is most of the time attached to my leg.
In the first year of mommyhood it was nearly impossible to find enough time for myself to ‘find myself’, but the last 6 months have been so much better – for ME (the person). I have taken a clue from my husband in this department. I am almost at awe of how easy it is for him to make plans with his buddys and take that personal break for himself.
I have to make a conscious effort to plan time for myself – and when I do I am so much happier – which makes me so much better when I wear the many other ‘hats’ in my life. Now my hubby and I just need to make an effort to plan time for “us” too! So many important things to do – and so little time. It’s ok as long as I tell myself that it only gets easier...

I'm a writer. I publish a zine (hence my name). Now, granted I write a fair bit about motherhood, but I started the zine before I had children, when it was about my adventures in the Peace Corps and whatnot. And it's been very important to me to keep that going, all through having and raising kids.

I do set time aside to work on writing, to go to the annual PDX Zine Symposium (August 11) and (for one day of the year, anyway) hang out with the zine-writing punk-rockers and be in a scene that's completely different from my everyday life. I make time to talk about writing with the other mother/writers in my writing group.

I don't know how I could make it through motherhood without writing. Without something - not children - to call my own.

I'm not yet a mama, but soon to be any day now - due date is tomorrow - and this is something that was on my mind a lot up until about the 7th month of pregnany. In fact, it was heavily on my mind and starting to get the better of me. My husband and I decided to take a "babymoon", a last relaxing hurrah if you will, to hawaii at the beginning of my 7th month. I felt guilty at first spending this money even though the whole trip was virtually free with airline miles, friend's houses and friend hotel discounts but it turned out to be the absolute best thing we did. While on this indulgent, relaxing, non-sightseeing trip I came to grips with my fears of becoming a "mom". I realized I don't have to give up my identity and become a "soccer mommmy" - something I was dreading. I realized that being a mama or parent, for me, is about continuing to do the things that my husband and I enjoy doing now and being able to share and introduce our child to the world we enjoy. Yes, I know things will change but I like to think that this change just means you really dig deep and commit more to the things that are important to you as an individual so that you can open that world up to your children.

Perhaps I'm being idealistic since I don't have my child yet, but coming to that realization has made all the thoughts and anxieties about this new aspect our lives workable. Kudos to you rock star, zine writing, film producing, burning man attending, race running, blog community starting, girls night outing, surfing moms out there. You're an inspiration to those of us getting ready to jump in!

Like Erin, I'm a mom-to-be who's been giving this topic a lot of thought during pregnancy. My own mother invested every ounce of her time and energy into her role as mother and homemaker, and while having a mother that was devoted completely to enriching our lives was beneficial to us in many ways as kids, I perceive that it's created a lot of problems for her as we grew up and left the nest, and she found herself completely stripped of her identity and raison d'etre. I get the impression that not retaining any adult identity beyond that of 'parent' ultimately fosters an unhealthy dependency on your children that is stressful to both parent and child. I'm grateful to hear other mothers' accounts of how they retain independent adult identities as parents, and beseech parents not to feel 'guilty' about these 'indulgences'--I think you're doing your kids a big favor.

ZM? Is that you? call me!

Shannon...I don't think I know you. Do I? Now you've got me very curious!

It sure is hard sometimes to fit it time or interests for the mama, who is often the primary caretaker. I love that I love my work; I have worked full-time all through motherhood in very fulfilling-yet-challenging fields thus far, and I have never (really) regreted it. For me, my work is my respite, though any given workday is sprinkled with making playdates, looking into schools/summer camps, arranging for back-up care, or other kid-related stuff.

Honestly, a trip to the supermarket without kids is like a spa day, an indulgence....

Before I had kids, I tried to fill my days and nights with things I'd never do again. We were living in NY. I love the theater - off-off broadway shows and other performance art. I had my fill of those affordable and amazing shows in the weeks before I delivered. Now that we have kids, theater is something I never revisited, probably also because theater feels a little less afforadable to me here in Portland.

Our family is very much into doing things together and enjoying our new life of parenthood. We still camp, bike, hike, swim, have big racuous gatherings to eat and drink til wee hours, go out with friends when we can, dance, party.

We used to have our urbanMamasRun group running on Saturday mornings, and that was such an indulgence! I am thinking the group needs to start running regularly again.

I always think I can do more to push myself to do things that are purely mama-centric and have nothing to do with the kidlets. I'm sure many of us can use it. It's good for us.

Rock on mamas!

Olivia, I think that is so true what you said about the supermarket! When I go without Asher, I purposely walk slllooowwly down all the aisles, looking at things, and usually kind of daydreaming about who knows what.

For me, the mama-identity-time is an interesting matter because I am divorced. As I have gathered from many other threads on this blog, there are not many young, divorced mommies in this readership! However, this (currently) provides me with three days in the week wherein I don't have my babe with me.

This time is quickly filled with errands and work and cleaning, but I do try to take one night to myself and sew a few things on my sewing machine, read part of a novel, or even just reorganize my closet late at night in my underwear with loud music on.

it's these little things that really add up for me and keep me sane...the times wherein you actually have the privilege to think, "ok, what should I do right now?"

Sadie Rose, I can identify with the single mom thing, and I agree, we are few in numbers on this forum! My biggest indulgence is to have a friend take my 2 year old overnight. Last time, I went to see Harry Potter all by myself, and then I was in bed by 10pm so I could make the most of my precious uninterupted sleep! I think I was up at 9, but only because I was having work done on my house! Any time I can open my front door and not have to worry about the little whirl-wind blasting through and running out into traffic, it's relaxing for me!

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