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Anyone else feel they have lost their way since having children?

(51 Posts)
dingledangle Mon 09-Mar-09 15:58:21

I have two beautiful children, the eldest coming up for 4. Prior to having kids I was an opinionated, career minded individual. However 4 years later after being a SAHM I feel like I have lost my way a bit!

I have a uni degree, MA and have done several work related courses whilst I have been on a 'career break'.

But I suppose the reason I am posting this is I feel I have lost my way. My close friends no longer feel that close. They don't have kids or have grown up kids and do not live that close by. I have hardly any time alone with partner and I suppose I am wondering what to do about returning to work.

I am in a very fortunate position in that I do not need to work at present. However, this does not stop me feeling that I am lost in the world of babies, preschoolers etc and need to be considering something more. Both for my benefit to contribute to income and be a positive role model for my children.
I have met up with several parents at the nursery my DC attends. But these relationships are very new.

Does anyone else feel like this? Or had felt like this and come through the other side.

I am not wanting to wallow but try and find positive ways of moving forward!

PatienceRequired Mon 09-Mar-09 16:07:52

Yes i can identify with you, (i have three children, 6yrs, 3yrs, and 13 months). What keeps me going is the thought of going back to work at some point in the next 6-12 months.

I need to do this to contribute financially, but i also need to do this for my sanity and sense of self worth.

My middle one starts school full time in sept so i can see the light at the end of the tunnel IYKWIM.

I love them dearly, but our time together is all quantity and no quality because i feel like i'm overdosed with them.

I'm lucky in that i had a career that should be easy to get back into although it may involve shift work which may not be easy to manage from a childcare point.

I suppose i see being a sahm as a short time in my life and it has its good points too, lots of new people to meet, a different sense of achievement, and those magic kisses and cuddles at bedtime! lol

You say you have done courses while being sahm, and that is the way to go to keep your brain in gear. Its just a case of viewing it as a precious short term stage of life, although i struggle with this whilst dealing with tantrums, wet pants, poorly kids etc lol.

MrsMattie Mon 09-Mar-09 16:15:25

Yes, definitely identify.

I have a 4 yr old and a 15 wk old. Been at home since the oldest was 18 mths old (after brief and nightmarish return to full time work from maternity leave). I have felt a strong pull towards staying at home with my children, at least until my oldest (who has some special needs) goes to school and my baby isn't too much of a fragile little bubba. However, I also miss the 'old me' who was very career-oriented, achieving, successful etc.

I have also struggled loads with feeling disconnected from friends (mostly childless), making new friends and finding some sort of future career path that fits with having a family. I'm still figuring it all out, to be honest.
I am going to do my Masters starting in Jan 2010, and hope to return to some sort of work (I am essentially retraining by doing this MA, as it is kind of related to my old work but adds a new dimension). Ideally, I'd like to start off P/T and see how it goes, but in the current job market, who knows?

I also get through some of the more mundane moments of SAHM-dom by reminding myself how very quickly they grow up and how lucky I am to be able to witness it all so close up. grin

lazybones Mon 09-Mar-09 16:16:14

I enjoy being at home with my dc but it was a massive adjustment to make. I've considered going back to work but to be honest it scares me to think how much everything will have moved on in the time I've been a SAHM. I feel very far-away from who I was before I had kids too. It also feels like everything keeps changing as the friends I have made move away as the children get older.

I volunteer now and it does seem to give me that little extra focus. I think I'd be alright without it, but it has been a good way to meet other people and do new things - the only downside being the lack of pay! I also like how I can do things on my own terms, which is much nicer than working.

dingledangle Mon 09-Mar-09 16:18:48

I am relieved to hear that others are feeling this way too........

It is like the old me has disappeared completely! I know life is different now and I used to moan when I worked full time, was stressed out with work and so forth.

There must be a happy in between!

Like you *Mrs Mattie* the courses I have been doing are work related but I hope to return to something similar, but not quite as stressful as what I did before.

MrsMattie Mon 09-Mar-09 16:20:43

Me too!@dingledangle. I worked in the media ore-kids. Unsociable hours, a real 'staying late' culture and lots of out-of-hours networking expected - it would just be totally unworkable with children. I'm hoping to move into more of a training position, but we'll see...

Good luck! And MN is a great place to come and unload, btw grin

MrsMattie Mon 09-Mar-09 16:20:59

Sorry, pre kids

dingledangle Mon 09-Mar-09 16:26:25

Thanks MrsMattie. Just felt like this for a few days......

As you say MN good place to unload!!!

Must go, baby awake....dinner time!

FrazzledFairyFay Mon 09-Mar-09 16:28:07

I feel the same. I was in a professional occupation before having my DCs, and feel like I just don't have much in common with most of my old friends and colleagues who are still, primarily, childless.

I am feeling it even more acutely since moving house and, therefore, being further away from my Mummy friends as well.

I would like to get a bit of my old self back.

francagoestohollywood Mon 09-Mar-09 16:36:49

I actually lost my ways before children. When I joined dh in the UK. So I experimented the same feelings of "loss" way before the dc were born. I so understand!

PatienceRequired Mon 09-Mar-09 16:42:22

Been thinking about this and i have definetly changed since having kids.
I wonder if we women in general are going wrong by expecting to "get back some of our old selves" post kids.

Having children certainly changes you, and there are some bits of my old life that i just wouldn't care to do now. Some bits i'd like to do now and again, and some i'd love to do all the time.

I think i imagine me as a person only getting better as time goes on, and my children grow, and therefore i gradually become "free" again. I am developing different interests. Losing tons of excess weight that i have carried since i was a baby. Trying new experiences as circumstances allow, and generally being open minded about life.

I wonder if we mums need to be told about this grieveing for our old lives and informed of the way forward some stage in our child's lives, eg at 8 month check (or similar) if your lucky enough to get one!

Right philosophical musing over, dinner to be cooked smile

shootfromthehip Mon 09-Mar-09 16:43:42

My oldest is nearly 5 and I (prior to having kids) have always had a clear sense of who I am. Until I gave up everything that made me me and stayed at home with a small child.

I am too nearing the end of my time at home (am going to go back part-time in Aug) and finally have an idea of how my life is going to shape up with kids in it. My biggest problem was how many directions that I felt I was pulled in... society tells you to be a working mum who still manages to fit in all the crafty fun stuff with her kids. If you give up work then you meet the whole 'I don't know how y0ou cope with the boredom' from all your 'previous life' friends and yet I DON'T cope with the flaming boredom, I hate it, HATE IT, HATE IT.

It is so hard to know who you are under those circumstances and I know it really screwed me up for a LONG time! Anyway, you are not alone and if more people were honest then you would see just how many people feel the way you do. Chin up though, you'll never get this time back and at least you saw every 'first'. wink

SparkyFartDust Mon 09-Mar-09 17:07:41

This is very interesting and yes, alot of what you say has resonance for me.

However, I am a working mum. Previously full time and now 4 days.

I feel 'lost' in that my work detracts so much from my identity as a mother. I feel lonely in that I yearn to be a bit more in touch with my children, the rhythm of their day and their growing up.

I am lonely often as my work identity is far removed from my inner one. The two just don't marry at the moment.

I have to work, to pay our bills. However, I am thinking of diverting slightly and doing some private practice combined with child care so that I can be at home more but still keep my 'hand in.'

I do feel as if I have nothing 'of my own' though. I happily invested much of my identity/ interests over to the kids. Partly because in my drive to become a mother I became less focused on developing and cultivating other interests.

There must be a balance out there...

JaneSeymour Mon 09-Mar-09 17:11:43

Long before having children, sadly

dingledangle Mon 09-Mar-09 17:13:41

Oh thank god there are more of you out there!

I relate to almost everything that everyone has said especially the part about being pulled in all directions!!!!!

No one tells you how lonely it can be at times being with little children. I absolutely adore them both and the little hugs and kisses you get unrequested!!! However, I am worried that I will wake up one day when they are older and I get more time to myself and I don't know what to do with my time.

These messages are reassuring...

xfabba Mon 09-Mar-09 21:56:30

havent read posts only title but just felt compelled to say "oh yes!"

honeydew Mon 09-Mar-09 22:39:29

yes, I'm in this position too.

I have 3 DC: 5, 3 and a half and youngest nearly 2.

I have to stay at home as there is now way we could afford childcare for 3.

I was a teacher in middle management with an MA and had absolutely no idea what hit me when I had kids. I am an only child and had no previous experience of children. My mum never discussed motherhood, I was just pushed by my parents into being academic and career minded.

I STIL haven;t really come to terms with being a SAHM after 5 years! I adore my children of course and I am lucky that my DH has a good job and is a wonderful husband and father. I also did not suffer PND, but children have definately changed me.

I am not unhappy and really appreciate all the good things I have but it has been SO hard to switch over to this kind of life.

Sometimes I get so down about not working- was 5 years at Uni all for nothing? My family don't and won't help and my in-laws see the kids once every 6 weeks or so for the day.

So I don't get any practical support or relief form the daily grind of this industrial strength childcare. My DH works very long hours and so I feel there is just no balance. As someone else said- too my quantity and not enough quality! I just never get a break from them or the housework and it really is tiring. I've done 3 difficult births/ 2 C-Sections, ( 1 emergency) continuous breastfeeding and no one ever gave me a moment's relief! I don't think I've had one night's full sleep in all this time.

I don't regret having kids as such, just the relentlessness of it with no break or change. The worst thing is that I have a medical condition called 'Diastasis Recti' (a post-partum complication of pregnancy) so I have to have surgery in a few months, just to add to the stress. I have a separated abdomen and hernia so I have to have it all repaired and a tummy tuck. It's not going to be easy and I've put it off for 18 months so far and really do still look 6 months pregnant. I find it very hard to cope with all the cleaning and practical work but we can't afford a cleaner, so I'm stuck with it.

It's not the kids in themselves I can't cope with, it's all the laborious, physical work and restrictions on your time that piss me off so much. I go out for a meal with my DH once a year, if that!

Somedays I cry into my soup I'm so fed up and bored, bored bored with the monotony of it and others I thank Jesus I'm still alive, not dying of cancer and have 3 healthy, lovely kids and live in a free country.

I plan to do my writing and go back to work PT once they are all in school. But finding a job around school hours is a nightmare so I may just do voluntary work depending on what's available.

I will claw my life back but never thought it would be this much of a struggle and wish I'd left more of a gap between children.

So you're not alone! The fact that being a SAHM is so undervalued and unpaid is utterly galling when I spend every waking moment busy coping with the needs of my children and going without all those things I had before kids like holidays, new 'stuff',my independence, my own money and time to myself!smile

junkcollector Mon 09-Mar-09 23:09:43

I agree with what you've all said.

I am just coming out of a period of change. I gave up full time work last year and have decided to be with my children more and work less. I have really struggled this year with coming to terms with my changing role as I had quite an influential job in a specialised field. I am in the fortunate position of being able to do a bit of freelance work and we are just about managing financially (without a car (we live in London), holidays and luxuries.)

I have begun to think that we should start looking at our lives in a different way. It shouldn't have to be a choice between working/ not working- (or validity and obscurity). I HATE the terms SAHM and WOHM. They are so value laden. They are labels we attach to ourselves that limit us. Why do we have to be one or the other?

As mothers we should all be able to make the choices for our children and our lives that are right for us and not be limited by what society percieves our role to be.

So yes, I have lost my way...but I'm sure there MUST be a new one I haven't found yet...

dingledangle Tue 10-Mar-09 08:50:33

Thank you everyone for writing how you feel about your changing role/s since motherhood.

I think the key point for me is the lack of perceived value in the role of mothering and being at home with children. Yet clearly all those who have posted here are intelligent and wonderful people (did not mean that to sound cheesy).

I find the lack of time to myself to just sit and think and be quite a real problem and as for time alone with darling husband well like several have already stated that is non existent at the moment.

Not wanting to wallow I do think we are in a very priviledged position staying at home. But that does not mean to say it is not possible to be critical about what that means!

I am still looking for some home:home balance!

dingledangle Tue 10-Mar-09 08:51:16

That should read quiet!!!!

kettlechip Tue 10-Mar-09 19:00:23

I read this earlier today and it really struck a chord with me too. DH works away during the week and my family are a long way away. I have lots of friends around but find it quite lonely without my family, plus an expensive headache if I ever need babysitting! I love my boys to bits but find most of my day to day life incredibly repetitive and tedious and sometimes wish the time away until they're more independent. I know I shouldn't, but on bad days, I just can't help it.

I miss being valued for my expertise at work, and the great social life I had in the office where I worked. Going back isn't an option for me as we moved hundreds of miles when ds1 was tiny.

I've realised in the past couple of weeks that I need to go back to work part time, to preserve my sanity. I'm just in the process of organising this, so that my life is a bit more balanced.

Don't feel bad dingledangle I really think lots of us feel this way though, even if fleetingly.

DwayneDibbley Tue 10-Mar-09 19:32:48

Message withdrawn

chunkalulu Tue 10-Mar-09 22:04:37

Totally agree and reading some of your stories I feel guilty for feeling sorry for self some days.

You mums who are out there doing it all on your own are amazing and underrated and could probably run the country whilst changing a nappy and cooking tea.

Am mum of two preschoolers, working part time with some help but virtually zilch from DH even on weekends really as he so bloody knackered by the demands of job.

My mum died, have fallen out with my dad ( long story) and his parents are wonderful but live hours away.

Feel we are in our own little bubble some days, struggling with feelings of inadequacy and tiredness.

We dare not admit this to ourselves, let alone our "friends" who are fab for cups of coffee but would we really know them if we didn't have kids?

After one recent argument with DH I sat sobbing: "Who do you want me to be?" as I felt so lost.

Gemzooks Tue 10-Mar-09 22:34:21

totally identify with this whole thread.

I work 3 days in a professional job, have DS 2.5 and about to have DC2.

It is so hard to do all the mummy stuff plus keep focussed on career.

I find it very helpful to make a basic, plan, like think what I want to have done by the time I die, a kind of obituary (I know it sounds morbid but it's not), then what I want to have done by my retirement date, then what for the next 10 years, and 4 years, to set at least some kind of direction for myself. I think that's all you can do, really, say 'ok, this is me and these are my special strengths, and I want to bring up my kids, have a loving relationship with DH but also I have my own particular contribution to make to the world, what is it?

haven't found the answer yet, mind you!!

Gemzooks Tue 10-Mar-09 22:35:07

it is also kind of annoying that whilst one's youthful arrogance and self assurance is washed away by motherhood, it takes your confidence with it!!

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