Identity and the 5 Year Postpartum Blues

I feel I was a kid in this photo. I wasn’t. I was mature and capable. I made the choice to have children young. But in this moment, I felt lost.

Since the age of 21 I felt like my identity was defined by what I was to others; Liam’s “WAG”, Malachy’s Mum, and in this photo, I was the vessel for Delphi & Cheska. When people would see me they’d mostly ask about my kids or how Liam’s footy was going (though I‘ve always loved bragging about my little family, at times I was desperate to be asked how I was too.)

Next year my youngest kids start school and I will have more time to find myself again. In years to come I‘ll thankfully no longer be tagged as a “WAG” and have what I say discredited because I couldn’t possibly be insightful or intelligent and be with a sportsperson 🙄.

Not long ago I saw a doctor. I have had an up and down year with mental health to be frank. When the doc asked for the ages of my kids, she went (paraphrasing) –
“ahhh, a lot is making sense. I see so many primary carers, mostly mothers, when their kids are this age. Postnatal depression has thankfully become more well known, but this period of parenthood still doesn’t get recognised enough. Raising babies and young children is wonderful but extremely challenging and selfless. I think lots of mothers feel an identity crisis when they come out the other side with children that are more independent, and the mothers aren’t needed in the way they used to be.”

My relationship with Liam and journey through parenthood will go on, but it’ll evolve. And I can tell there’ll finally be a more wriggle room for me. It’s a conflicting feeling to realise this after giving myself to my family so tirelessly for most of my adult life (though I’m grateful to have the change.)

But a shoutout to all the friends that have been there through it with me. The ones that have always seen me…for me. The ones that cheered me on when I kicked my own goals and sensed when I wasn’t going well. The ones that made the effort to come to the house I often felt trapped in. The ones that ran to me, not the babies, after I’d given birth.

Thanks for reminding me of who I really was when I wasn’t sure myself.