Hi, I'm Kate.
Your therapist friend who refuses to sugarcoat motherhood, and isn’t afraid to spill the tea on my own messy journey.
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If you take any piece of advice at all, let it be this.

Sometimes the struggle is just too fucking real. I mean, if it was easy, my career wouldn’t exist (not just because of moms needing help, but also because my own struggles is what launched me down this path of moms mental health). 

A big part of what I do is helping women prevent losing their personal identity (or rekindling it if you feel like you ghosted the old you by accident!). Because if you don’t put in a consistent effort into your passions, sense of self, friendships or goals, you become a depleted shell of what you once were.

Umm, hard pass.

If you feel like you’re slowly losing touch with your best friends, your partner is always going out while you stay home, and you’re trying to trick yourself into being grateful for a life that’s all chores and putting others first, then my most recent blog post is for you. Head on over here and give it a read because let me say one thing: ghosting your old self fucking sucks! 

Becoming a mom is one of the most abrupt life transitions we go through. Even if it takes years to get pregnant, or you’ve been planning this for ages, the shift between not having kids, and having kids, can be really shocking!

What usually happens is that everything about life as you know it changes in an instant! And the things that used to receive your energy and resources become laser focused on your child (and completely taken away from you as an individual). 

Maybe you step away from work, your friendships change, the activities of lifestyle you used to be part of are no longer available. 

And you feel lost. Life feels like it’s just not about you anymore, and this can feel devastating. Yes, even if you chose this. Even if you love your family so much. Even if you’re grateful fir your children. You still might feel really lost, sad, and not like yourself. 

Identity loss in motherhood is so common, and it can be really painful. Let’s dig into it, starting with the rollercoaster journey of early motherhood, a process and a transition that will always have its ups and downs. It’s an ebb and flow. Sometimes you feel awesome and secure in what you’re doing, how you’re parenting, and the ways you’re handling each curveball. Other times… you might feel lost, regretful, out of touch with your old self, and like the struggle is just too damn real. 

And let me just say that this is totally normal to question yourself many times! It makes perfect sense to have some stages where you love this part of your life, and other times where you shake your heading thinking “what in the actual F is my life?”

We all hear those affirming pieces of advice for these hard moments: be kind to yourself, be gentle, let yourself take a break, give yourself the support you need. I say these things often, so I stand by them! And sure, it can be easy to understand how that applies to others. When it comes to our own selves though, it can be hard to recognize when we need to cut ourselves a little slack. 

To the women who are struggling in motherhood because they feel lost, unsure of who they even are anymore, and really pining for those pre-kids days, this post is for you. 

Losing identity in motherhood is a real thing. Your feelings are completely valid. Here, I’m breaking down the reasons why this happens and what to do. 

Why Moms Feel Like They Lose Their Identity In Motherhood. 

If this is already describing your experience, be gentle with yourself as you come to learn why identity loss is such a common occurrence in motherhood. As you read, reflect on how many of the below causes have you seen in your own life? Remember, addressing challenges like these starts with knowledge and awareness. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is. 

So as you read, my hope is that you don’t feel discouraged. By being here, you’re already proving that you’re the kind of person who strives to improve your mental health and day-to-day experience. 

Here’s a look at the factors that lead to identity loss in motherhood: 

You put others’ needs before your own. Always.

Be honest with yourself: do you put others before yourself all the time? Do you draw boundaries or do you give, give, give? Are you on your own priority list? 

Now first let me acknowledge that becoming a mom requires that you put a lot of things aside, at least initially. Of course you are going to prioritize a baby’s needs or something that your kids need urgently. That’s totally reasonable and necessary. 

And. I want to highlight how for many moms, they never learn how to shift back to tending to themselves. So even as kids get older, they are still entirely focusing on the kids needs first at the expense of their own. 

It’s ok if you’re realizing that you are putting other people ahead of yourself. Honestly, most mothers do this. I do it often and easily if I am not careful. As women and mothers, we are taught to make sacrifices and people please. These sorts of cultural attitudes have an underlying message which many of us have unknowingly bought into: that our needs don’t matter and our worth comes from the extent that others are happy and cared for.  

So you can see that overtime, you might continue to over-prioritize others, and never ever return to yourself. This is so tough to catch, it feels like it sneaks in there and then suddenly, you feel so lost. I get it. I’ve been there. 

Identity loss starts to occur in small ways, like when meal time only caters towards your childrens’ specific palates. It happens when your partner goes out with friends but you always stay home to watch the kiddos. It happens when you give up too many of your Saturdays for family events in order to satisfy the in-laws. Or when you no longer go to your exercise class because you feel badly being away from the fam. You get it, it starts in tiny ways. 

You’re in survival mode so you forget about yourself.

Been there. I have totally, totally been there. 

One of the most sobering expectation-versus-reality truths about motherhood is that you spend a lot of it just surviving, especially in the early days with young babies and kids. 

If you’re just keeping your head above water these days, it’s totally understandable that you just may not have any gas in the tank to do anything beyond just the mere basics. Keeping a baby alive, soothing cries for the millionth time, showing up for work or caring for your home and all that entails… and doing so while being so sleep deprived is a lot. If that’s what your days are currently looking like, of course it feels like you don’t have time for lengthy self-care, exploring a hobby, or dare I even say, hanging with friends or traveling. 

There are seasons like this. And yeah, your identity might take a little hit because you just don’t have the bandwidth to put energy into the things that make you feel like you. You’re not alone and it’ll pass. 

You don’t feel like you have time for yourself. 

When you come out of survival mode, you may still feel as though your days don’t allow for you to take any time for yourself. 

Sure, there’s probably a lot going on. Becoming a mother means that priorities shift and there’s a lot more to do. (Hello meal planning, back-to-school shopping, and Saturday morning soccer practice.) This one is a slippery slope though because while there’s more on your plate, if you’re out of survival mode, you’re going to have to find a way to put yourself back on the list. Because honestly, all the things you could do to take care of your family can completely consume you, because it’s endless! And no one is putting you on the list, but you. 

As annoying as that can be when you’re already overwhelmed, it’s one of the only pieces of advice for maternal mental health that is 100% true. If you take any piece of advice at all, let it be this one. So no, I’m not suggesting anything drastic. I’m not saying to ditch your family for the spa every Friday (although that would be nice) or to book a solo trip across the country or hit every musical festival this summer. But what I am saying is that part of Sundays could be used for baking if that’s what you really love. Or that you can call on your partner to hold down the fort while you go out for tacos with the girls every so often. Or that maybe you start listening to your music, snacking on your favorite things, instilling quiet time for the kids so you have a bit of a mental break, etc. Otherwise, what does your future look like? You becoming a depleted shell of what you once were? Umm, hard pass. 

You don’t feel like yourself because friendships go to the backburner. 

I’ll head into this point with another gentle reminder that knowledge and self-awareness are the first steps that lead to change. It can be tough to take a look at our realities and aspects of our lives that are mediocre or maybe even completely MIA. Sigh. But it’s gotta be done! 

One of the common contributors of identity loss in motherhood is social lives falling by the wayside and allowing friendships to drift. And yes, sometimes we’re happy to let some relationships go, but I’m talking about the friends that you miss, but can’t seem to find a way to fit into life these days.

Your friends are your chosen family who witness, celebrate, and support all parts of you. Before, you may have had a standing weekly date, movie nights with the girls, parties for every occasion, and a best friend to confide in. Does that still exist for you? Oftentimes, friendships are one of the first things on the chopping block when kids enter the scene. This can lead to you missing out on an important human need (social) while also cutting yourself off from those who embrace the wackiest, more endearing and admirable qualities of your personality. This isn’t all doom and gloom though. Can you do something really small, like send a quick “I miss you text” to start reconnecting? Friendships look so different post-kids, I hear you. But you still deserve (and need) to feel connected. 

I want to mention, too, that sometimes thinking about how friendships have changed can bring up a lot of grief. You might realize that certain friendships just don’t feel the same anymore, or that you no longer relate to each other. This can feel so sad! Allow yourself to feel sad about what has changed. 

You haven’t fully transitioned into this new role yet.

When you start a new job, there’s a period of adjustment, right? You move to a new place and it takes time to get your bearings and establish a community. You graduate from a university program and there’s a period of adjustment as you navigate the professional world. Relationships also undergo many seasons of change. All of this requires adjustment. Motherhood is no different, yet we expect ourselves to drop our old selves and seamlessly adjust to the new. 

Even though our bodies may have grown a child, or we’ve suddenly found ourselves parenting kids, and even though there is such a thing as a “maternal instinct”, we still need to mentally and emotionally transition into this new role and phase of life. 

A lot of women find this period to be shockingly difficult (hi it’s me!). If you’re losing your identity in this stage of motherhood, it’s probably in part because you just haven’t found that balance yet, it all feels so foreign, hard, and unnatural. (Truthbomb: this can take years to change! Nobody ever tells you that. So don’t be hard on yourself if this is the case for you.) Take all the time you need to adjust, explore, and trial-and-error it until you find a groove where you’re not getting the dregs of whatever energy is leftover. 

The transition to motherhood is long, yet we expect the adjustment to be instant. So reflect on whether there’s any more self-compassion needed here. 

Messages about self-sacrificing are too ingrained. 

Part of the reason why many of us lose our identity in motherhood is because we think we’re supposed to! The self-sacrificing narrative is sooooo ingrained. It’s pushed on us without us even registering it. This is the societal messaging that says, “Well this is the life you chose,” “This is just how motherhood is so accept the loss and move on,” or “Yes you lost your old lifestyle, but look at what you gained! Be grateful.” 

I’ll say it loud and clear. 

These messages are all bullshit! You don’t exist just to serve others. You’re allowed to (and should!) take up space. Your joy, mental health, fun, and passion don’t deserve to be suffocated or left unattended. That’s not anybody’s purpose, ok? 

So do whatever you need to do to end ties with any beliefs that self-sacrificing is just how your life is meant to unfold. Sometimes it takes a little anger about the social narratives to dig your heels in and declare “I AM NOT DOING THAT TO MYSELF!”

Is it possible to be an amazing mother, and also save some of your energy for yourself? 

Could being a mom be a part of your identity, but other parts of you are equally important and valuable? 

Identity can be a complicated topic for a lot of mothers because it can often feel like it shouldn’t take priority or that it’s not deserving of our time and emotional energy. Things like your hobbies, social life, taste in food, film or music, goals, dreams and entertainment can feel like second- or third-tier priorities. This stuff can be so easy to dismiss when you’re focused on sick kids, the daily grind, or new financial obligations. This dismissing of your needs, though, is actually a form of invalidating or even gaslighting yourself. The toll that identity loss takes over time is a big one. If left unaddressed, it can leave you feeling perpetually unsatisfied, empty, depressed, or resentful towards others. 

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HI, I'M KATE BORSATO

Your therapist friend who refuses to sugarcoat motherhood, isn’t afraid to spill the tea on my own messy journey, and promises not to dole out cliche therapy advice.

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