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Finding Me

Finding Me.

On my very first day of graduate school, many years ago, I completed a quick self-assessment tool.  The intention of the exercise was to get us thinking about how we see ourselves in relation to others; to evaluate where we fit in and where we hoped to go from there.  It was simple.  Yet, at the time, it was a bit lost on me.

finding me

woman image via Shutterstock

I was fresh out of college when I entered graduate school.  I was young and ready to save the world.  I had big dreams.  Some of them have been met; others still hang in the balance.  But that very first day, I was certain that I would meet them all.  I knew who I was and where I was going.  Ignorance is bliss.

The professor asked us to make a list of how we would describe ourselves in relation to others (examples included mother, daughter, sister, etc.). I quickly jotted down “daughter, sister, friend, student, and therapist in training”.  Some people shared their lists; others just listened.  What became very clear to me that day was that I did not have many life experiences under my belt.  I was young.  My very first instinct was to write “daughter”.  How could I save the world if I had yet to experience it?

I remember it clearly.  Walking into that room I was a strong woman on a mission to save every child from harm.  Walking out, I was a humbled young woman who had some work to do.

I think of that exercise often, especially when I’m feeling lost in the haze of chasing kids, cooking, cleaning, and trying to keep everyone happy.  Right now, I have the best job in the world.  Right now, I am a mom.  But it is hard work, and there are days when I don’t have a single moment of “me” time.  Truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I see how fast my children grow and I want to hold them tight and keep them small forever.

I’ve noticed that a lot of moms seem to be struggling with the balancing act lately.  I hear about it on Twitter and Facebook, I hear about it on the playground, and four times in the last week people were directed to my blog by entering the search words “moms feeling lost”.  Not long ago, I wrote a piece about “Mom-Esteem”, the term I use to describe how we feel about ourselves as moms.

It’s easy to feel lost in motherhood, particularly with infants or when making the transition from working full time to stay at home mom (or work at home mom).  It’s easy to put yourself on the back burner while you tend to babies, keep the house in order, cook something healthy, run errands, keep up with your friendships, and try desperately to have a healthy marriage.  It’s exhausting.  It can be isolating.  It can be a lonely job.

I think that graduate school exercise is a useful tool for moms feeling lost in the early stages of parenting.  If you were to sit down and make a list of how you would describe yourself in relation to others, what would that list look like?  You might think it would be short.  You might have difficulty seeing beyond “mom” and “wife”.  I’m here to tell you that that list would actually be very, very long.

Twelve years and many life experiences later, my list is much different:







Parenting Expert




Grocery getter


Personal chef


Laundry goddess

Part time exerciser

Play date coordinator

Coloring partner

Arts and crafts leader


TV watcher

Idea generator (someone has to come up with fun plans)


Problem solver

Provider of endless hugs and kisses

“Feelings helper” (term coined by my daughter)

Giver of baths

Entertainer (not on a professional level)

I could go on…but you get the point.

People often ask me what advice I would give new moms.  I always say the same thing:  Take a shower every morning, take a walk every day, and ask for help.  Taking a shower is the best way to start the day, especially if you’ve been up for most of the day.  Taking a walk ensures some exercise and fresh air.  Both are important to your emotional well-being.  Asking for help means knowing that you can’t always do it all alone.  It’s ok to need help.  It’s ok to be tired, cranky, and overwhelmed.  I focus on these three areas because these are just for you.  New moms always feel lost at some point (if they’re being honest).  You have to remember to make time for you too.

I laughed as I sat down to make this current list.  Some descriptions are clearly more serious than others, but they’re all true.  At the end of the day, I am all of these things.  I take pride in every single one of them.  And when I have a day that seems never-ending and my husband is away and I can’t find a minute to make a phone call…I have that list to remind me that I am important to many people on many different levels every single day.  Trust me, it helps.

What does your list look like?


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Thursday 21st of July 2011

Thank you for this post! Even though it took me a few days to get around to reading it, LOL. I'm quick to drop my personal time off the list of to do items and without any regular help around, it doesnt get back on the list much. But this post reminded me that theres more than just the mommy part of me. Thank you for inspiring me to write a list and realize it does indeed go far beyond mom, wife, and meal cooker!!

Just Jennifer

Saturday 16th of July 2011

Really good post of rnew and more experiences mom alike. We all need the reminders and validation. Thank you!

Josh (NonConformist Pa)

Thursday 14th of July 2011

"...I have that list to remind me that I am important to many people on many different levels every single day."

That's powerful, compelling, and uber practical. Oh - humbling, too. I get oddly discouraged sometimes... I go all 'turtle' and withdraw from the world, preferring to sulk in my own defeated attitude than engage with the people who need me the most. A list like the one you've created? Blows that turle-y/depressed/angst-ridden me out of the water.

I freaking love it. Wicked, wicked post.

- Josh (@nonconformistpa)

Practical Parenting

Thursday 14th of July 2011

I don't know how to thank you for this most amazing comment! I'm so glad this post helped in some way. It can be easy to get stuck in the darkness...I've been there before. Knowing your strengths and how you affect other people can be very empowering. You are needed and you are amazing! Thank you again. You made my day!


Thursday 14th of July 2011

What a great read. Truly insipring. I believe that the exercise would be good for all people. It helps to know and discover who you are today to decide where you want to be in the future and just what you need to get there. Doing a self-assessment excercise of who you are in relation to others is so helpful to gain knowledge in life and one's self. What I would add to the excerise for me, is remind myself that although in life I have a relation to all others in my life, the relationship to myself and who I want to be relative to others is always limitless. Thank you for making my day brighter with your article. It was a moment I just took for myself to really reflect on my own list. I needed that!

Practical Parenting

Thursday 14th of July 2011

I'm so glad you enjoyed this! I do this regularly to remind myself that what I am doing right now is just as important as my future goals. It also helps me remain focused on what's next and where I want to go from here. Happy to be able to give you your "Mommy Moment" for the day!