Like millions of women around the globe, I have been defining myself as a mother ever since I was pregnant with my beloved first child.
Being a mother is not only my job, but also my passion, my confort zone and my cherished responsibility. It is a role that I have always loved, a privilege and a blessing.
Having any other role besides it always seemed redundant an infeasible.
I always had an admiration for working mothers, and looked at them with awe; unable to comprehend how they manage to divide their attention and identity to fill more than one shoe.
Years went by and my frustration was building up. I felt that something was missing, especially as my children were becoming more and more independent.
Many unsuccessful trials filled with self-doubt and self-judgement to find a job work, led me to more frustration and shame for wanting me being anything else but a full time mother. Nothing was worth leaving my established identity for. I was convinced that I was only good at what I already knew how to do best. Why look elsewhere? Why make any change?
I was struggling to find the right moment, the right idea, the right motivation and the right remuneration to get back on the employment market. I couldn’t understand that I didn’t need an identity shift or any kind of change. All what I needed is to trust myself and allow myself to expand.
Once I let go of my fears ending with the same suffix (employability, compatibility, feasibility, proximity, etc), I switched to “ action mode”.
I stopped thinking that I my last paycheck is in fact older than my teen. I stopped thinking of all the limitations and chains I had built around myself refraining me from moving forward. I stopped blaming myself or others for my choices and from seeing my destiny limiting. I stopped thinking of how much I should make or I can make per year. I stopped thinking of who would and who wouldn’t employ me. And most importantly I stopped feeling guilty for wanting to expand.
I always tell my children to look at life as an opportunity to gather tools to put in their toolbox and use later when in need. I encourage them to search for as many as possible of these tools and build an immense box. This way, they will always know what to do wherever they are and no matter what situation arises.
Indeed, I found myself doing the same. I had forgotten about my own massive toolbox! I opened it and I was so pleasantly surprised. All these roles and tasks and chores and challenges and opportunities I went through that can’t be written in a CV were priceless when stacked together. I had tools as diverse as breastfeeding to dealing with suicide. Each and everyone of them made me who I am.
When I saw it that way, I stopped wanting to be anyone else and I thus I wasn’t incomplete. Nothing was missing, it was just how I chose to perceive my existence. I had also gotten ridden of any guilt feelings. With this solved, my confidence and creativity were recharged. Instead of jeopardizing all my attempts with ill-conceived ideas about who I should and shouldn’t be, I started doing and enjoying what I do.
One foot in front of the other, I didn’t overthink. I started cooking, packing and distributing meals in front of hospitals. The following week I repeated, and the one after and the one after. Each time I gained a little more knowledge about how to perfect the process. Then I repeated again and learned some more. Word got out and I found people wanting to help. We cooked, packed and distributed more meals, and repeated. Each one of us added a little bit more to the process.
In this repetitive cycle, I found solace. I started acting on ideas that were forming in my mind. And little by little it was more than just cooking, packing and distributing meals. It was about finding meaning. Our small group had and has one mission, making others happy.
In the process of giving to others, you give to yourself. In physical exhaustion working for a greater cause, one forgets to worry about one’s little life. The joy of giving is ecstatic. It fills you up with light and gives you energy to keep going. Nothing beats putting a smile on someone’s face.
Yes I work long shifts and have zero monetary gain. But I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Doing volunteer work is therapeutic to me before being of any value to others. It grounds me, gives me purpose and endless satisfaction.
I am still a mother and always will be. It is who I am- I will always want to fill this role. I have simply expanded my identity and decided to give back to my community, and in doing so my existence makes sense.
Perhaps this formula works for you, perhaps it doesn’t. Regardless.
Whatever you do if you feel like I felt for many years, don’t doubt your capacity. Look into your own toolbox and stack all the tools you have gathered along the way and start.
Do anything you enjoy and the rest will follow. Don’t overthink it. One step will lead you to the next. Just keep being in action. Perfect your own process. Ask for help, learn from others, get inspired and inspire. Listen to your heartbeat as you create something for yourself. Enjoy feeling fulfilled and make it contagious. Don’t stop, repeat, perfect, add to it and start all over. You will find solace too 🤍