Lost or Found: Mommy Identity Crisis

By | November 14, 2013

just a mom

So the other day we had a wrap-up brunch for the women’s Bible study I attend. While there were so many wonderful things to take away from our last session, I found myself stuck on the juxtaposition of two testimonies that were shared.

One woman shared how she found her identity in being a mom and raising her kids in light of her faith. The other woman shared how she had gotten “lost” in being a mom and was searching for her identity. A mommy identity crisis.

For the past few months, I have felt lost in my role as a mom. It’s a hard thing to admit because that confession is packed with guilt and baggage.

Isn’t this what I always wanted?

Shouldn’t raising my children be the crowning achievement of my life?

Can I even imagine my life without them?

So this life isn’t enough??

I feel like those questions have been on the tip of my tongue every time I start a blog post. I’ve wanted to speak them–wanted to see them in black and white, but the guilt is too great.

I guess it’s because in my practical and somewhat pessimistic mind, I can look down the road and sort of visualize the unknown tragedies and griefs awaiting me.

Hello doomsday, right? Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but really? Who is spared grief? No one. Grief is intricately wrapped up in this thing called life.

So I see that grey cloud of grief–hopefully way down the road–and I know that THIS, right here, right now will be a bright patch. Raising my young children–teaching them–coaching them–is a happy memory. But the fact is, I have to work hard at being happy in the here and now.

The hard truth is that sometimes I begrudge my identity as a mom.

So, I want to ask you… are you lost in your identity as a mom, or are you found?

I believe my current position is ambivalent. And by the way: I love that word.




I think this word perfectly encapsulates how I feel about my identity as a mom. On the one hand, I absolutely LOVE being a mom. I love the golden moments:

I love you to the moon, Mommy.

I hurt my hand, Mommy. Could you kiss it?

Your child smiles with her eyes.

Your children are beautiful!

Oh yes. During those moments I could easily have as many babies as the old uterus would allow.

kids and blocks

But then there are the dark moments:

The excruciating hour before bedtime.

The meltdown at Target.

The marker on my couch.

The horror of my child being rude to someone.

Yep. I could do without all  the above. I could be anyone else during those moments. Just not the mom with a sweaty upper lip and a child hanging from each arm.

I wish I could have sat both of these women down and cross-examined them. Find the golden mean and thus change my life, and probably the lives of others.

But this brings me to my other great takeaway from Bible study…Weakness is strength. I think sometimes people misunderstand how easy it is to be a follower of Christ.

Yes, I said easy. Because here’s the deal: Christ uses the weak. He uses the broken. And maybe, for now, my identity is an ambivalent, conflicted mom who constantly questions her own heart. That sounds like an astounding weakness, doesn’t it?

I don’t know how it’s used. I have yet to find my shining purpose. Maybe for now, my purpose is just to be vigilant in doing the mundane. Enduring the meltdowns. Kissing the ouchies. Washing little socks.

For me, this is a daily struggle. Am I alone? I do want to hear from you. Wish we could all just hang out and swap sob stories. I feel like we’d all walk away so encouraged in knowing that we are not alone.

22 thoughts on “Lost or Found: Mommy Identity Crisis

  1. Meredith

    You are not alone!! I go back and forth from being lost and found. Sometimes, I feel so desperate to find myself again, and sometimes, I feel perfectly happy right where I am. I think that’s part of God’s plan. I think that we can’t be found until we are lost! ???? Great post!!

    1. hillary

      Ooh–perhaps I can just include your words at the end of my post? You put it so eloquently: We can’t be found until we are lost. Brilliant!

  2. Chris Carter

    There is purpose in being a mother… but it comes with a cost, like every other purpose. The cost? Annoyance, frustration, boredom, endless struggles and exhaustion to name a few. But within that purpose, lies a mission- and in that mission, there is room to feel and fluctuate and roam to wonder and question and be- ambivalent.

    1. hillary

      Oh, Chris! You always answer my heart questions. Thank you for this. Can we organize a pow-wow? Like get a bunch of moms together and you rally us forward?

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  4. Johanna

    Hi Hillary,

    I don’t usually comment on blogs, but this post has resonated with me and I wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge that. Being a mom is hard. It may be the hardest job there is, but somehow I feel self-indulgent and unproductive doing it. I frequently feel unfulfilled, which I think is similar to how you feel about your identity as mom, as you put it. I feel I should be contributing to society more and contributing financially to my family. But this is what I chose and I’ll be darned if I don’t try to do better at it every day. I have to eek some sort of pride and fulfillment out of this job, whether it’s successfully coaxing Bekah into the stroller without a tantrum or just congratulating myself for not losing it with Catie for an entire afternoon. So I guess that’s my advice to you….for what it’s worth.

    1. hillary

      Hey Johanna! Thanks so much for commenting! I can’t even explain how good it is to know that others feel the same way. Misery loves company, eh?

  5. BrerMatt

    I think we overly burden ourselves in comparisons. “This is not who I thought I would/should be.” Instead, we are better off when we can say “This is who I am, and it’s good.”

  6. Rhoda Jane

    Wow. I really appreciated Mona’s comment. Thank you, Mona, for sharing. Spot on, yet something we fail to remember.

  7. Nicole Leigh Shaw

    I think we need to be us,first. Use the best parts of who we are to inform the way we mother. After all, we are raising our kids to be whole people, so they need to see us whole.

    1. hillary

      Thanks, friend. Apparently I’ve been confused lately haha. Feel like I’m finding my way back.

  8. Adrienne

    To be quite honest, I feel extremely lost in my identity as a mom right now. And there’s a HUGE amount of guilt hovering over me for not enjoying the here and now more. I just can’t snap out of it, I guess. So? consider this sob story swapped! I just went to get a glass of wine. ????

    1. hillary

      Yah, I wish we could just share a bottle together ???? Hugs!

  9. Mona


    Ten to fifteen years ago I felt the same way. I was always searching for my identity. I wasn’t satisfied with “just being a mom”. I tried so hard to find myself. I think part of our problem is cultural. The American women is still trying BE it all. “Bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.” And thanks to Martha Stewart, we must have the table set to perfection and a full course meal ready for the hubby when he arrives home. Then add the expectations of compliant Christian housewife and patient mother and there we have a recipe for disaster. None of these things in and of themselves are bad but the motivation behind them is where we go wrong. Now that I can look back on my mothering of the first two kids I can see where I went wrong. I was searching for my identity in the wrong place. I’m about to say a very Christiany thing but here goes… our identity needs to be found in Christ. We ARE mothers, wives, sisters, co workers, friends but our IDENTITY is in Christ. Once I truly embraced this truth so much pressure left me. It was and still is a process but my expectations of myself, my husband and kids did a 180. It’s easier now to embrace the seasons of my life. I’m sure you have been told more than once that this season of motherhood is so short and will be gone before you know it. It’s soo true! It’s so short. By letting God have our identity we can EMBRACE this season that includes the mundane, repetition, the spilt milk, and the tantrums. I wish I had figured this out when raising my oldest but two things I know are true about our God. He loves me and my children more than I can fathom and He has their (and mine) best interest in mind ALL the time. So my failures in parenting are not where it ends. I finally made the choice to step back and relax, let God be God, and embrace difficult seasons. And by embrace, I mean hug it, kiss it, call it your friend (for a season) because it’s where you are and there is no sense in resisting.

    I really appreciate your openness. Thanks for sharing ???? .

    1. hillary

      Mona! Wow! Such astounding words. I hear the phrase about our identity being in Christ often. And I don’t think it really has resonated until I apply it to such a quiet, but difficult cross-roads. When I wrote this post I was hoping for insight from my readers. I know God provided that through you and the other commenters. I really appreciate your wisdom.

        1. hillary

          I saw you across the rows and I wanted to come give you a hug! Bummed I missed you ???? But I did get to hang out with your fabulous daughter and that did my heart some good ????

  10. Amanda

    I think it’s only normal to feel both sometimes. I am happier than I’ve ever been, I feel like I was meant to be a Mom and raise these boys; but that doesn’t mean sometimes I don’t wish for more, I don’t know, recognition? of the hard and wonderful job I’m doing.

    1. hillary

      Yes! Maybe its the whole being unrecognized, unacknowledged that gets to me. Thanks for sharing!


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