How can you find yourself when you're focused on raising someone else?

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Photo by Till Westermayer, used with Creative Commons license.
A lot of the content on Offbeat Mama really reinforces the idea of maintaining the person you were before becoming a parent, which I love. But what about those of us who are trying to be parent AND figure out who we are as individuals?

I was 20 when I found out I was pregnant, and I was just starting to carve out my adult identity. When I realized my daughter was coming, everything for me was put on hold — I had to get it together, get a steadier income, start planning. My daughter is now 3, and the hugest, most incredibly awesome thing to ever happen to me. And yet … I have been so consumed with raising her, and finishing my degree, and just making ends meet, that I sometimes feel like I'm still struggling to find me.

Do you have any tips for becoming more involved in offbeat communities, making offbeat friends, and finding time to know yourself? I want my daughter to cultivate an identity and sense of self … which means I should probably lead by example. -Blake

  1. I DEFINITELY relate to this. I was a little bit older when I had my daughter but nowhere near where I wanted to be in my career or creative life. I don't have any tips, but I do feel whoever wrote this.

    Right now I'm reading The Mother Trip by Ariel Gore and it's great inspiration for pushing on and finding yourself!

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  2. I don't have any advice, but I'm happy to see this article. My husband is in the military and we got married very young. I got pregnant a few months after getting married and discovered now, after a year of being her mom, that I still don't know who *I* am. I'd like to hear suggestions from others!

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  3. Interesting, I'd also like to see some advice on this. I tend to be very reclusive and I don't want my child to be like that. Seven years living in a city and all the people I've met I still don't have anyone I'd really call a friend, just acquaintances. Many fake friends. I do have really great friends who live two hours away. Friends since high school, so I have a small support system but nothing locally and I don't get out much.

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    • As someone who had to struggle to make adult friends in a VERY niche market (i'm deaf, and desired some other deaf mama friends who are also raising hearing children)…. my tip is to PERSEVERE. Friendship is about perseverance, you can't let little differences or setbacks or even fights stop you – just last week I bitched out my BFF for being inflexible about meeting at a park when it was 45 deg out, windy, and I have a 5mo son along with our 3 yr old – but we made up and she forgived me my honesty in being irked. Call people, offer to do things, put yourself out there, REALLY put yourself out there, invite people over, friend people on facebook and go the extra mile to learn about them. It takes work, friendships don't just happen. With my now-BFF deaf mama friend, she was super nervous about making a friend, and also busy with her job… I persisted, she turned down plenty of my offers to get together, but I kept hitting her up and going out of my way to make it easier for her, meeting at her neck of the woods, etc. Now we have a friendship going on 5 years, 3 of that is with our CODA (children of deaf adults) kids growing up with each other!

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  4. I was in my mid-30s when I had my first child (and I'm already hoping for a second in the next year or two), and I don't feel as if you ever finish the finding-yourself journey β€” nor would I want to. It's part of the joy of being alive, so younger mamas, know that us older mamas are just as befuddled at times as you are. πŸ™‚

    There are two major goals I have in the next year, and they are hard to do with a more than full time job, a baby, and a very full life. That said, here's what's helped for me to reconnect in areas of my life that need it:

    1. Make time for date nights. Even when we have a date night that starts out crappy, it's always ended well. The last one ended with us writing our 2011 goals down and reading them to each other over glasses of wine on the deck. It was such a powerful moment of reconnection for us, and also helped me to define what I want to be and do in the next year. It was great.
    2. I've made new mama friends, but also continued to hang with my non-mama friends as well (and make new non-mama friends, too). I think that having a balance really helps you to remember who you currently are, and where you came from.
    3. Getting Dad into the mix as much as possible has really helped. My guy is almost a year old, and still breastfeeding, and at first I thought, "I'll do more FILL IN BLANK HERE when he's weaned." And now I'm like, Crap, just do the extra pumping and store that milk so you have NO EXCUSE not to FILL IN THE BLANK HERE. Little Dude's dad is more than happy to hang with him. It's just a matter of me letting go a little to ALLOW myself to go and have fun, or write, or work out, or whatever.
    4. Which leads to . . . GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO DO THINGS FOR YOURSELF. This is really hard for me. I feel so connected to my family that it's hard for me sometimes to let go and make time for myself. But I am learning to do so, slowly but surely, because it makes everyone happier in our family. Plus, doing things like getting your brows threaded or going horseback riding with your punk rock friend really do help you to chill out.

    Okay, those are a few of my tips that have worked . . . I've also found that

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    • Oh man, I totally feel you about having trouble giving yourself permission to do things for yourself and allowing Dad to help out so you can relax. I also have a lot of problems with that, but it's really important to do it, even if it's something small.

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    • I am in a similar situation. I'm 32 and pregnant with my first… I've done a lot of travel, study, general finding-myself activities in my life but in no way feel like I am ready to stop! I am a little scared that when my son arrives I will have trouble with the identity shift but mostly, I think I just need to keep making time for me-stuff even if it just means junior has a sane mom πŸ™‚

  5. The key for me is modeling things for my son — if I want him to develop an interest in the arts, I need to be getting out and going to cultural events. I take him with me if I can, but sometimes I can't or don't want to, and that's an opportunity for him to see that these events are important to me. If I want him to be social and comfortable with groups of people, I need to show him how I do it, visiting with friends and hosting pancake parties. If I want him to appreciate nature, I model going out for a hike. In this way, making time for myself doesn't feel selfish — it feels like I'm modeling for my son the things I want him to understand are important. Arts, culture, friends, outdoors.

    Also, check out Stephanie's posts about making mama friends:

    1 agrees
  6. i am a single parent raising four kids… i have no time or energy for anything else. i moved so i have no support system. their dad never takes the kids ever… so i never get breaks (maybe once a year, if i am lucky). so finding myself is going to be incredibly hard. i hope i do someday.

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    • Are there self-enrichment things you can do while involving the kids? Listing to audio books, going for nature walks, doing art together, going to cultural events?

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    • i have a friend who is a single mom raising four. their dad rarely takes them. she discovered (when her kids were old enough) that geocaching is a great way to get out and do stuff outside with her kids and have adventures together.

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    • I cannot imagine the stress you have with being a mom to four, alone. My mom was a mom-to-four and we were all born within a six year period. but she had my (admittedly very absent) dad around at times to take over or help around the house. It was still so, so tough, and we could FEEL our mom stretched thin esp since she was the one who took all 4 of us places together. I would have rather had a happy mom than a slightly bitter and snippy mom!

      Just let go and give yourself permission to be GOOD ENOUGH. Forgive yourself, tell yourself your children will learn from your imperfections too as long as you say Sorry and I love You. Give them a taste of independence borne of lassiez fare and don't feel guilty about accidents! Take time for yourself no matter what! Keep trying your best to find ways to snag childcare – YMCAs often have great childcare centers for members, and they can offer sliding scales if theres a need.

      I'm only a mom to 2 (and married with a helpful husband, so I can't compare), but I find myself passing up childcare opportunities or forgetting to plan stuff for myself and arranging for childcare. I have family and friends who understand the demands of parenthood and really gladly would do stuff if I just ask, but I don't plan well enough to have advance plans, ha.

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  7. I had my daughter when i was 18 and I know exactly how you feel. What I did one was to sit down and just think about what I had wanted for myself, and what things i used to love that i wasnt doing any more. Your getting a degree so your way ahead of where i was! I think the best advice someone gave me was to find something, anything, that was just for me. Now I play roller derby. a friend that i gave that advice to took it to mean that at least once a week she would give herself painting time with no child around. My mom is in her 40's and still struggles to find time for herself so don't worry about it being just you or anything. πŸ™‚

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    • I used to play derby. That may be something I get back into once baby arrives if I can make the time, but then again I should probably spend my free time working on art, but its so isolating! Anyways what league are you on? I played for and help start the Blue Ridge Rollergirls in 2007. Was never that great but it was soooo fun.

  8. I can completely relate to this… I was also 20 when we found out I was pregnant!! Everything was a whirlwind of moving and planning and working. Shortly after my daughter was born we bought and renoed a house, got married and moved yet again. I've been a stay-at-home mama since we moved out here. And although I was more mature then most of my friends, life changed the moment I became a mother. I love it and it's been the best thing for me.
    However I am also having a hard time with "finding myself". Never having had the opportunity to spend years researching and traveling all the different interests I have… I've been attempting to do a lot of this from home. (Reading, writing, painting, drawing, etc.)
    But it is very hard to do… Raising a child and then trying to find enough time in the day to make meals, clean house, go on outings, follow the current news and on-goings of our society, read and do any other sort of hobby… It's sheer madness.
    My daughter is almost 3 and we are trying to give her as many experiences as we can and help develop her mind.
    So how do you find time in the day for yourself when you've got to spend the rest of it being a good house-keeper and mother??
    Thanks very much to the woman who wrote this post. I will be following!!

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  9. I had one kid in my early 30s. Now he's 4.5. Preschoolhelps me carve out time, but I know homeschooling mamas who have their own lives! (They have more/ different support.)

    Now, I'm a crazy-passionate creative type. I started belly dancing when I was 8! My family is tres Bohemian/ Hippie. We do not lack for things to do (of our own). But… We're all still evolving. My sister just started making jewelry. My mom is still painting, but finding new stylistic directions. And I "found" photography and hooping (but I'm still belly dancing!).

    Find what you love and carve out time. (And realize the first 2-3 years of your kid's life will be mostly about them. But you can still find some "me time!")

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  10. I can't wait to see the answers to this. I'm 26 and just about to have my first baby, but I feel like I still have a lot to figure out about who I am.

  11. What do you mean by 'finding time to know myself'? There's finding time and there's knowing oneself, but the latter is not dependent on the former. Knowing oneself can happen while spacing out during lunch, or watching TV, or driving a car. Do you really mean, "I feel I can't take a middle-eastern dance class for fun, because I'm a mom"? Do you mean, "I want to go out to concerts with friends"?

    Finding time is another matter. If the two statements together really mean, "finding time to just be with myself, where I'm not working, where I get to enjoy a book or play the guitar", be honest and just say, "I love my daughter dearly but I don't want to be dealing with things relating to her all the freaking time". That's totally cool and everyone else in your life needs to be cool with that. Once you've made that admission, start from there.

    Basically my point is that people surrounding parents implicitly assume and even explicitly state that a mother's life is solely about the children. Yes your life contains your children, that is an aspect just as much as having a job or living in the city or speaking English is an aspect of you. But it isn't the totality. And if you see having a child as blocking other aspects of your personality, then you've bought into what everyone else is saying! Yes it's more involved to go to the store with a child, but it's worth it to get the groceries, right?

    (I'm sorry if I'm way off base on any of my conclusions here.)

    So, solutions: First, it's okay to not want to be around your child all the time. It doesn't mean you love them less. It's okay to find a sitter and take roller derby classes. It's also okay to take your child to roller derby classes where they can see mom being awesome. Or the museum or Alaska.

    Finding like-minded people… well depends on where you are. Craigslist, meetup, sometimes even the paper. Go to a nearby university and check bulletin boards, or their websites. Take a yoga class, find a gaming group at your local games shop. Actually, here's an idea I'm toying with: if you like board games or D&D, go to a local games shop and post on their board that you'd like to start a gaming group for parents. Figure out the logistics from there. I guarantee you that there are other parent gamers out there looking for kindred spirits.

    Anyway, again I'm sorry if I've jumped to too many conclusions on any of this. Good luck!

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    • Most of our friends, even when they were newly arrived to the city, sort of moved in to an instant social group. We all play in a LARP that is part of an (inter)national organization. So when a LARPer from California moves to Georgia, the first thing they do is let us know they're moving – and we all make sure to get to know them, game with them, and invite them to social events. While we started as college students, we're definitely reaching the point where more and more of us are on the parenting track.

      I'm sure LARP isn't the only hobby that has these kind of social opportunities. Figure out what it is you like (roleplaying, derby, whatever) and then see if you can find some state wide or national organizations (they might be easier to track down than their small, local branches).

      Of course, then you have to find someone to watch the kiddo and that's what *I* want help with. How do you go about finding a trustworthy babysitter that isn't a relative?

    • nice level headed comment from a dad (i assume, since you're on a parenting site :)!

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  12. I could have written this. My son was born when I was 21 and his dad and I split when he was only a few months old. My entire identity is centred around being "mommy" and I've spent a lot of years figuring who I am outside of that label. It's an ongoing process – my son is almost eleven and I'm still figuring it out. It's not an issue of finding time for myself – it's about finding out who I am as a person.

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  13. I like that roller derby got a few mentions in these comments! My daughter is about 6 months old and I will be trying out derby for the first time in a couple weeks. It seems like a great place to let loose either with or w/o the kid – somewhere for Mama to get some exercise, meet new friends, and be fierce!

  14. I agree that the business of "finding yourself" is never fully achieved, because you keep on growing as a person until the end of your life! I think the first step is becoming comfortable with the fact that there will always be some parts of yourself that are mysterious πŸ™‚

    I think that maintaining some kind of "hobby" (for lack of a better term) is key to forming a strong identity. When you are doing something you love you often enter into that introspective trace where you can really focus on what's going on in your brain. It is also a great way to connect with other people, like the LARP poster suggested. For me personally, I have been doing yoga since I was 16 and the practice has taken a huge roll in how I have formed my identity, and it also gives me a chance to check in with myself everyday. Now I am 24 and pregnant with our first baby and my identity is shifting yet again, but I feel like I have the tools and knowledge to stay in touch with myself as I change.

    The best advice I can give is at least once a week (I'm sure it is difficult with a kid, but so worth it!), give yourself the opportunity to go out and do something you love, and if you don't currently have anything in mind, try something new (search local libraries, rec centers, and other venues for fun classes to try). Good luck and have fun!

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  15. Something I have noticed, especially when it comes those that are more offbeat, is that a lot of people tend to be less social after they have a kid. I'm not sure if it's a fear of being judged, not knowing what to talk about with other parents, or something else altogether, but I caught myself closing myself off to numerous opportunities to meet new people and introduce Jasper to different types of people, just because I didn't feel like I could relate to other parents, and I made that assumption TOTALLY on face value. It is definitely much more challenging to find other parents that you can hang out with. I've joined numerous playgroups and even tried to start one, and still only know two or three other parents (or sets of parents, depending) that I can really sit down and hang out with WITHOUT our kids around.

    Something else that a lot of people have brought up that I totally agree with is that cultivating a hobby or interest will do WONDERS for your sense of self. I love that Jessi pointed out that we all keep growing until the end of our lives, because it's totally true, and that's something I really agree with. You didn't specifically mention if you're a single parent or not, and/or if you have a support network, but if you do have someone who can watch your daughter, I DEFINITELY recommend finding a class or something that you'd like taking — my whole world opened up again when I started regularly attending yoga (I go to a gym where I pay a flat fee, because I go 3-4 times a week and there's no way I could swing $10 a class) and a dance class.

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  16. I think one of the great downfalls of our reaction to that boxing in of motherhood is that we can deny ourselves mothering as an identity. If that makes sense? I know when I had my daughter, within DAYS people were at me about 'not forgetting who I am' and 'not just being a mum'. Too bad. I am a mum, no matter how I spin it. So I fold that into the identity mix along with everything else.

    As my daughter has gotten older, getting time to do things I like has been hard BUT doing those things is not my identity either. Why are we SO against our identity being informed from motherhood but perfectly okay with derby or goth or raver being our identity? It's all of a piece, you can't pull bits out of the hat and call them the whole (OR leave bits out and call that a whole either).

    So I guess my advice is roll with it. Sink into motherhood, let it inform the rest of your identity even as the rest of it informs your motherhood. You are NOT a blank slate. Identity isn't what you do, what you buy, what you play. It's deeper than that. I found motherhood let me really experience my internal identity more because I wasn't covering it in work.

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  17. be yourself around other parents. pretty soon u will see who you want to hang out with.
    you can also hang out with people that don't have kids!

    if your having a hard time adjusting and finding yourself, cut yourself some slack. i had a very strong sence of self prebaby but lost it postpartum even as i desparately searched for it. i ended up reinventing who i am. and it emerged by finding interests.

    being a mother is part of who i am. if you're enjoying just being a mama then thats great! dont feel pressure to find out who you are. just discover it. read what peaks your interest watch media that peaks your interest.

    i have discovered that all through my life i shift, if you hold onto ideas of who u are everytime you change u have an existential crisis!

    your adult identity can be the same as your teenager one. dont feel like you have to grow up because of the baby, if you enjoy some of the same things then enjoy them!

    just be.

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  18. One of my good mama friends has a weekly yoga class as her "me" time. She loves it and it rejuvenates her for the week.

    Regarding discovering yourself, I think the best advice I've heard is to try things, everything, all sorts of different things, say yes to things you wouldn't have thought of. Go out of your comfort zone, having new experiences, meeting new people. Then listen to yourself, get a little quiet after you've done that activity and see how you feel. Did it feel right? off? stressful? fun? energizing? rejuvenating? Give yourself permission to play the hot, warm, cold game with your life (usually a kids game to find things) – ie, does this activity stimulate and make me feel great (hot!) or I could take it or leave it, meh! (warm) or does it leave me feeling exhausted, stressed (cold). Themes will start to develop and by listening you will start to take note of them and appreciate learning yourself. Also think back to your young childhood and see if anything stands out as something you love or one of your favorite times ever. It may translate into an adult interest that will define you.

    I think it's also important to build these exploring times/ "me" times into your schedule. Not when you're stressed and feeling overwhelmed but regularly. Weekly, biweekly, something consistent.

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  19. I am so, so psyched to read all the comments! Not only have the advice comments been very eye-opening and helpful, but the i-feel-like-that-too comments mean a lot to me; just the knowledge that other people struggle with some of the same things you do is really comforting. Thank you to everybody for posting such wonderful, thought-provoking answers to my question!

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  20. One of the best things I ever did was to organize a block party in my neighbourhood. That led to getting to know other parents, which led to baby-sitting trades. Then you have more time to explore your own interests!

  21. This is me- I was 20 when I forgot to take the pill! Wasn't sure who I was for quite a while!

    Things I do to be me / find me / feel like a real grown-up!:

    Regular Monday night movie- the independent cinema near me has cheap tix on a Monday- works for me as no-one ever has plans on a Monday so I can get someone to come along and have something arts/culture ish to think and talk about

    Make jewellery- I always thought I was creatively barren in the area of arts and crafts, but I tried it and I like it and am good at it. People even buy it from me, which is amazing!

    Read books- I buy one from the op shop every week or so, its cheap and I feel like a real-life grown up when I read, and again I have something to 'think'/ talk about

    Trying, trying and trying some more to find mothers that I actually like and who like me- hard when none of your friends have kids and all the mothers are like, closer your mother's age. But I kept at it and found some gems.

    Self development- in learning about myself and my parenting, what kind of mum I want to be, through reading books, counselling etc, I did discover what I stood for and who I was

    What DIDN'T work for me:

    starting vocational courses thinking I had to get a qualification to feel validated, then feeling like a failure when I didn't finish. I know now that I am valid anyway and there really isn't room for study that I am not committed to in my life

    Comparing myself to people my age without kids, or people my kids who were older- comparison was the thief of joy for me and I had to stop!

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  22. side note, ariel: this kind of post is a great alternative to having a forum — because the comments become a sort of forum themselves. πŸ™‚

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    • …that was my and stephanie's evil plan. We're going to try doing several "I have a question!" posts each week.

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  23. I've never totally understood the concept of "finding" yourself…how do you know when you're found/how do you know if you should still be looking?

    • My guideline: if you feel content in who you are and what you're doing, you've found yourself. If you don't, then you haven't.

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  24. Totally relate to this question because when i was unplanned pregnant at 24 I was looking for a house to live together, finishing my studies, needed a steady income and therefore trew myself at the first reasonable job (that turned out not so cool) and had to deal with the stress of an 3 month premature baby. I found myself kind of lost of who I was when things settled down.
    I am not sure if it helps you but for me 4 years later I realise that beside 'me time' and mutual interesting things to do with your child (which are important!), I had to learn to give myself a break. Giving myself time turned out important but difficult as a young woman used to live life on a fast track. It allowed me to relax and to realise that it is ok if I am a little lost after an intense and hectic period. It allowed me to reflect how I dealt with the first mommyhood years and what I liked and what not. It allowed me to realise that my friends without kids also have trouble to identify who they are. And it allowed me to realise that as a mom I am much more rooted so it is now easier for me to focus on the important stuff instead of distractions which is really handy when doing some soulsearching. And all off a sudden I find myself dreaming and making plans to build our own selfsustainable earthship house in spain. Something to give me enough energy to be a mom, wife and collegue during the rest of the day.

  25. I am an older first time mom, and I had found myself professionally before parenthood. However, in the last few years before I became a parent, I realized that I was losing too much "me' to my job, which was very key to my identity. So, even before motherhood, I began trying to focus on other ways of cultivating my sense of "me" (much of this was precipitated by a very real possibility of losing my job, which because of the line of work I am in, would have pretty much derailed me from this career forever, and I realized that I had to make some changes, because if this happened, I just could not let it be the end of "me" too). So I began reading more novels, reading more broad-based nonfiction than the literature in my field, cultivating friendships that have nothing to do with my work, and cultivating spirituality.

    The challenge for me now that I am a mom — and still in my chosen career (which worked out) — is still finding time for that core of "me." Two things have helped. First, even when my baby was a tiny baby and I was incredibly sleep deprived, I still read for about fifteen minutes a night before bed. Reading just helps me be ME. Second, since he was about ten months old, I exercise three times a week — and I use this as additional novel-reading time, or sometimes TV time, and I also listen to music. This has become so important to me that I have already decided that if I become a new parent again, I am going to figure out the exercise much much sooner, and not use nursing as an excuse.

    I agree with everybody that our journeys to the core ourselves are neverending, and not just dependent on age/career.

    My main goal now is to continue to make time for old friends and to cultivate connections with new ones — and to connect to read blogs like offbeatmama that help me think about the ways that motherhood has and has not changed me!

    On another note, my husband has had a harder time figuring out a non-work and non-child identity. It is harder for men, I think, to make new male friends as adults, and he lives far from his old friends. I wonder how common this is?

  26. I definitely mentioned this type of inner confusion in a previous blog post comment. In fact, many a night now in my early pregnancy I find stress and anxieties building me up to tears from all the emotion. My husband is 11 years older than me and working in his meant-to-be profession, while I struggle with where I want to be in life before and after the baby comes.

    The biggest 'aha' was when someone mentioned 'The Art of Non-Conformity' book in a comment – a book that I will be buying this weekend after checking out he website. My biggest issue is that my dreams were all outside the box, do not follow the usual 9-5 job setup, and may carry us to all different places. I need to be accepting of the fact that strapping a baby to my back and still doing what I want is okay, even necessary. What I really need is people like me that want to or are already living the life I want for my family. Thanks be to the internet that I can reach these people easier.

    I'm not normally an outgoing or sharing person of my own personality and what makes me who I am, but I have to be willing to put it out there to reach my dreams. My husband makes it look so easy because he loves machinery on the side, and there are many people with that interest. I just need to find people who love small hobby-farm ranching, international travel, Japanese, cross-stitching, gardening, and many of my other interests. You're going to be a kindred spirit with me if you can spend hours in the garden enjoying weeding because of the sounds and smell, and the sun.

    They do say, love what you do, do what you love, with people that love it too.

  27. It's sometimes hard to be yourself when it is detrimental to your child. That is what makes it such a tightrope at times. I can either be myself, find people like me and be happy in my own self, or I can be a pseudo/hybrid version of myself and my children will actually be accepted by more mainstream mums. Sucky as it is at times, my kids come before my needs and I will play Martha Stewart (well as close as I get anyway) to have them be allowed a social life from a Stepford community. When they are older and get it, and have established friendships excluding mama's, that'll be my time to stop putting a front on. Until then, keep the real me to the people that already know me, or will have no influence on my kids 'reputation'.

  28. I am also a young mama (22 with a 18 month old) and the best advice I have for making offbeat mama friends is to forget about age! For me living in a small town it is pretty much impossible to meet other young parents who are into the same things I am. Once I got over the whole issue of age I found lots of parents I have tons in common with and who cares if they are 10 years older then me?

  29. I would LOVE to know the answer to this question! Before I got pregnant, I really did know myself. But I didn't know myself as a pregnant woman and now a mummy. And like it or not, things have changed and I feel like a new person in a lot of ways — but still one that I'm not familiar with. My body's changed, my priorities have changed, and my circumstances have changed…the thing I'm not happy with is how much of my pre-baby personality that I feel like I've lost right now and I want back.
    Someone mentioned before too and I agree — I've found it really hard to make good friends and even further the friendships I already have because my lifestyle choices are so different. I parent differently, my lifestyle is different…its hard for me to put myself on the chopping block when it comes to what I believe is best for me, my kid and my family all the time.

  30. I can definitely relate to this! I was nineteen when I found out I was pregnant, had my son when I was twenty, and now it's been almost a year. I had moved away from my immediate family, close to 600 miles, and met a guy, etc. When I said I really wanted to be with my immediate family, he supported me and we moved when I was six months preggo. I had some vague ideas of who I was before baby. I am not a social person, I honestly prefer to be alone most of the time for what ever reason, and so I did not have many good friends before baby. When I moved back to my hometown I realized I had lost touch with all my other friends and that many had moved away, gone to college, etc. They were in different places, both physically and in their lives. It has been really hard to find friends that I can click with, even more so for my FH.

    Despite all that I feel like becoming a mother was what I was meant to do. I know that sounds stupidly cliched but it feels really /right/ to me. It has made me stronger and more confident, while shifting my priorities around and changing the dynamics of all my relationships. I still love to do the things I did before I had my son: reading, writing, drinking coffee, camping, etc. I don't think I have myself completely figured out but I realized that I don't want that. How boring would that be?

    Finding time for myself is a struggle. I have plenty of family here, but they are all too busy with their own lives to really babysit for me. FH and I have FINALLY started having regular date nights, twice a month, but it's a year for that to happen. My mother said to me the other day, "You really need to spend less time with Connor." I laughed! It can be hard to separate yourself from your child but I do not have that problem. My issue is finding people who are willing to baby sit so I can have some time to myself. My FH is okay about hanging out with our son by himself, but he works nights and we don't get much time together so he likes it better if we all hang out as family. Me time is very well non-existant. I have had two afternoons since my son was born that were just for me with no plans, no other people, just relaxing.

    Still I find that I can find myself amongst raising my son. It's just staying true to your interests. Like Ariel said, think of it as setting an example for your child/children. Having things that are important to just you is just as important as anything else in your life. There is no need to feel guilty for wanting me-time for yourself. Being a mother is only one part of a greater person, albeit a huge part for most of us. :]

  31. Keep Calm and Carry on…It has taken me 31 years to find myself; Don't rush it like a great master piece you will carve out yourself and then reinvent yourself all over again. A fine piece of art is never finished and neither will you be. I am a different person at 31 then I was at 25, 21, 18…you get the idea. The longer the journey the happy you are to just be and not try to be. Good Luck!

  32. i know this is an old post but i wanted to comment anyway. i really get this. my situation is a little different. i was almost 27 when my son was born, but it was just after my husband had passed away, so i was grieving, raising a newborn, and trying to figure out who i was without my partner in crime. it's tough.

  33. Ditto! I had my son when I was 20 (he's now almost 3). I would love to hear others' advice.

  34. Blake,
    I just turned 50 this October, I have two wonderful girls, who are young adults and I, like you, began my journey into adulthood with the same situation.
    I can tell you this,you have already begun to carve out an identity and it is one of a person who has so much strength that you can take on the massive responsibility of a child and still pursue your goals.
    You wake up everyday and make decisions that will have ripple effects for generations to come and you do ti with grace.
    You my dear have found it in your heart to not only take the right path, but to understand that you are no longer the center of your universe and have made peace with that. That speaks of great character,wonderful resilience and more maturity then many will ever reach in a lifetime.
    I can tell you this, you will find yourself in the little hand that you guide each day. The tender moments, the hard struggles,the joyousness of living in the moment. Children lead us down a path that not only benefits them, but also enriches us.
    There will come a day, in fact many days along the way and in the future, when you will question yourself, your decisions, your path.
    You may even be challenged by your children about them. But I can assure you that if you are looking for YOU, look not further than the task at hand and the hand that needs you to hold it.
    I understand as a young woman you long for adventure,success and ultimately a partner to share it with.
    You want to forge a path in this world , so you can one day say you "made it", but I can tell you this, I have achieved financial success, even fame. I have walked many roads and seen many things. But the greatest of all was my connection with my children.

    XO Kim

  35. Best thing to do is to have a vision for yourself.. simple edible things for you to do.. that's not "me" time spent on consumerism, but real things you loved to do before the kids arrived. Then, best advise, see how everything you are doing, is on the way, not in the way of parenting. How does planning the time, resources to do the things you love, contribute to becoming a better parent. If you find the gratitude of doing things for yourself, there will be no guilt or fear associated with doing things you want or doing things for the children.

  36. I was 21 when I had my son. I was not married to the father and our relationship didn't last long after my son was born. I *thought* I had a plan when he was born, having been in a career of sorts for a few years before getting pregnant.

    As time passed and I became a single mother with little help from the father, I forgot to think about myself and what was best for me. I was lucky enough to have some family to take my son while I took a vacation – solo. I changed careers when my son was about 4. My friends and family pitched in there as well. And again when my career turned into a traveling twice per moth gig.

    I can't say for sure that I know today exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but I can say that having a good, solid support system is crucial in the process. As Mothers, we tend to have this martyr mentality and, while it IS important to put our children first, we have to remember that it is also OK to take "Me" time.

    Our children will not hate us, the world will not crumble around us. Worst case scenario is there will be some crayon on the wall when we get home from a short break from the chaos. If you have been afforded the luxury of family or good friends near by, have them watch your kids for a day or two and take a vacation. Even a staycation in the house alone. Blast your Rock n Roll, eat ice cream in your undies!

    I have found that just a day or two by myself a couple of times a year has given me clarity and the ability to refocus on my goals and dreams.

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