# 4 - The Motherhood Identity Crisis
In this week's episode:
So many things change for women as we enter our journeys to motherhood. We BARELY talk about the changes of the physical body and our mental health. But do we EVER really talk about what it takes to remain connected to ourselves while we meet the demands of our loved ones during the motherhood shift?!
Join me in this episode as we have a real honest conversation about the identity shift that happens when tiny humans start calling us, "mom." We'll discover what the motherhood identity shift often looks like on a spiritual and emotional level; and I'll guide you through three steps that you can take immediately to reclaim your identity in your motherhood journey.
📍 Hey, I'm Kilah and since becoming a mom, I struggled with mental illness and just feeling so depleted. That was nine years ago, and then I realized that so many moms are just like I was. I've finally reclaimed my health holistically, and I wanna teach you how to do the same. Whether you're newly postpartum or a few years in this podcast is for you.
It's time to recover your health so that you can show up as the mom that you deeply desire to be. This is the Healthy Postpartum Mama podcast. Let's learn and heal together.
Hey, Healthy Mama. Welcome back to the podcast. I'm your host, Kilah Lawson. I'm the owner and founder of Elephant Baby, where we provide extensive support to moms in their first few years postpartum. I'm also known as your postpartum vitality coach because I work with women in helping them to reclaim their health within their first few years postpartum.
Are y'all ready for some real raw, just transparent conversation? If you are, then this is what we're gonna be doing today..okay.Before we start our chat for today, I want you to get comfortable. As I always do, I'm gonna encourage you to just provide a space for yourself where you're able to just relax, where you're able to remove yourself of distractions if you can.
I know that can be very hard as mothers. So, if you can get to a space where you know, no distractions are present, that's what I would encourage you to do. Grab a nourishing beverage. Today, I'm drinking just some coconut water. I've added a little bit of pineapple juice in my coconut water, along with some trace minerals.
So grab yourself a nourishing beverage, whether it's a cup of tea, a tonic, whatever you can grab that will satisfy your soul and truly nourish your body. Speaking of satisfying your soul..that is, the main pillar of postpartum wellness that we're gonna be really honing into today. If you haven't checked out my seven pillars of postpartum wellness, if you're like, what are the seven pillars of postpartum wellness Kilah?
I want you to head to my YouTube channel right now because there are some short videos on there that break down the seven pillars of wellness that I believe are critical when we're talking about reclaiming your health and just recovering and truly coming to deep restorative healing after childbirth.
So make sure you head to the Healthy Postpartum Mama YouTube channel and check out those videos. Alright, so before we get into the episode, I just wanna share with you just how difficult it's been for me over the last few weeks to balance all of the things. So many of you guys know that I am a mom of five.
Our oldest is 10 years old. My youngest is three. So that in and of itself is a lot. My kids are young, they're close in age. I do feel like in this season, some things are becoming a lot easier. Like when my kids were younger just two or three years ago, I feel like motherhood was a little bit more difficult for me because I was...I was a source of all of their needs. Everything that they needed, they came to me for, they still needed help getting dressed and putting on their shoes and tying their shoes. And you know, a lot of those things that they needed, they relied on me and my husband for. As they're getting older, they are figuring out life and their independency and they're not having to rely on me for a lot of those things. So we are shifting into a different season and I can feel it, but it's still a lot. Being a mom of five , we do homeschool as well, so that adds in a layer of complication. And my husband's a firefighter and I also run a business.
And I just wanna be honest and just share with you guys kind of what the last few weeks have looked like for me. And the reason why I wanna share and just be transparent is because so many of you guys follow me on Facebook. So many of you guys like to view my life just on social media. And sometimes when we do that, it can be so easy to just think that, oh, well, so-and-so they have it all together.
She's building a business and she does this and she's a mom and she's hosting a podcast and she's doing all of the things and; sometimes we look at other people's lives on social media specifically, and then we start to compare ourselves with other people and we get down on ourselves, and I'm always the first to remind people just how
difficult seasons have been for me in my life, and I do that because I quite frankly, get sick of all of the highlight reels. And not necessarily because I don't like to see people joyful in their life, but it could just bring a sense of false reality. Anytime you mention anything negative on social media, people don't like to see it.
People don't like to read it, and this is probably why I tend to be very transparent on my social media pages because I'm always wanting to remind, specifically mothers, just how difficult this journey can be. And I wanna reassure them that they're not alone in their journey and a lot of us are experiencing the same things.
So this is the reason why you might see a little bit more vulnerability from me if you're following me on Facebook or Instagram or whatever. And this is the reason why I...I'm just gonna be sharing with you my heart on this podcast episode today. I want you all to know that I don't have it all together,
So when I started the podcast, like I knew that I was not an editing genius. I know nothing about video editing and sound quality and all of that. So even as you're listening to this podcast, if you're a professional podcaster or if you've listened to podcasts before, you might be thinking, uh, it's not the best quality podcast.
And you're, you're right. Cuz it is not. And the reason why I say that is because I just wanna share with you that I started this podcast because I have a vision. ANd because I have a passion, and that passion is equipping mothers with the resources, tools, and information that they need in order to combat and prevent so many common issues that we're seeing that mothers are experiencing after childbirth.
The reason that I'm bringing to you the podcast is because I know my experiences, and I know that many of you are experiencing a lot of the things that I experienced, or maybe you're in a worse situation than I was in, and I just think to myself, wow, no mother truly should have to go through that during their postpartum journey.
And y'all know I use postpartum very loosely. I don't consider postpartum to be the fourth trimester, just the first few weeks or first few months. I really acknowledge the impact of childbirth lasting for life. I really cater a lot of what I share with you to moms who are within their first few years postpartum and first few years really is subjective.
My mom, she had her last baby 30 years ago, and she's listening to my podcast. So I don't know. I just, I love it. The podcast is for whoever may feel that they may need the message on healing and recovering holistically after having kids. So I say all that, but I really just wanna share with you that when I did start the podcast, you know, I kind of had in mind, I want to do this every week.
I wanna release episodes every week. And if you guys are paying attention, if you're subscribed to the channel, if you're subscribed to receive notifications when episodes go live, you'll notice that it's been a little quiet on my end. And the reason for that is cuz I've been, I've been struggling personally.
I've been overwhelmed with my responsibilities as a mom. I've been overwhelmed with my responsibilities as a business owner. It's just a lot sometimes, and this season I knew that I needed to scale back, and I have a really hard time with disappointing people, and so it was really hard for me to just be like,
I'm just not recording an episode today because consistency is important for me and I wanna show up for you guys, but I can't show up for anyone unless I am showing up for myself. So the last few weeks have really been a time for me to really look into my spiritual health and then also my physical health.
For the last few weeks, I've spent time resetting my body on a nutritional level. I've been very mindful of my eating and spiritually, man, there's been so many changes happening. I've been taking the time to really explore where I'm at on a spiritual level, and really taking the time to reconnect with God.
And find clarity in my purpose within the next few months specifically. So that's why y'all haven't heard from me, but I think that time has really helped to prepare the message that I wanna bring to you all today. If I did not encourage you to get comfortable, get comfortable. All right, so the pillar of wellness today that we're gonna discuss is tending to your soul.
And I'm actually gonna grab my phone here because I wanna read the definition of soul. Soul is defined as the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being regarded as immortal. And also underneath this definition, It says A soul is a person's moral or emotional nature or sense of identity.
And I think the second part of that definition really resonates with me. A soul is a person's moral or emotional nature or sense of identity. And I wanna share with you guys the importance of tending to your soul when we talk about postpartum healing. I wanna reiterate the fact that postpartum healing in recovery, if we're gonna do this on a deep level, If we're gonna do this on a level to where it's restorative to your livelihood, then we have to acknowledge that every aspect of health matters.
We have to acknowledge that your physical health matters, your mental health matters, your emotional health matters, and your spiritual health matters. Without acknowledging every aspect, I don't believe that we can truly thrive in life. I believe that we can get by. I believe that we can feel good, but I don't believe that we can thrive unless we acknowledge every aspect.
When you talk about tending to your soul, it aligns with the spiritual and emotional parts of healing, and again, it's connected to every other aspect of healing. So in the last couple of episodes, I talked a lot about physical aspects of healing and what nutrition should look like and what restorative practices that you can implement in order to help prevent and combat common postpartum issues.
But today we're gonna talk on a soul level. We're gonna get into some of the emotional aspects and spiritual aspects that are associated with healing in the postpartum time. So I wanna begin just by sharing some very intimate details of my motherhood journey. I became a mom a little over 10 years ago when I got pregnant with my first. I remember that time very clearly.
My husband and I had just gotten married. It was actually during the weekend of our first year anniversary where I shared with him the news that I was pregnant. We were so young when we got married. We were so young when we started having kids. I had no rhyme or reason for why I wanted to start having kids
a year after we got married. We. Came to the conclusion that we were gonna spend a year together before we started having kids. And both my husband and I grew up in Christian backgrounds, and it was the logical next step. You get married, then you start having kids. It wasn't until I found out that I was pregnant with my second that motherhood
began to shift for me. I found out that I was pregnant with my second when my oldest was six months old and it was not planned. I was on birth control at the time, struggling through birth control and just even the idea of taking birth control, cuz I've always been pretty natural minded without
understanding why I was natural minded, but I've always kind of had a turn off to taking any type of scripts or drugs or anything like that. But I found out I was pregnant and I just remember being very disappointed. I felt like I was finally getting my body back and, and getting into a good rhythm after having my first, and here comes another pregnancy.
So the feelings that I had were very conflicting. Coming from a Christian background, we're told be fruitful and multiply, and that children are a blessing from God. So I knew these things, but I wrestled with the core feelings that I had of discouragement and disappointment. And I also really wrestled and struggled with guilt because I knew in my head that other mothers
were struggling to become pregnant or may have experienced loss, and here I was disappointed that I was having another baby. So I remember having those feelings very vividly, very clearly, but not knowing really what to do about them, I kind of suppressed them. Anything that came up negatively, I had a hard time vocalizing.
Motherhood really began to shift during this time because my baby was, he was a difficult baby, and I hate to say that, but it is what it is. He was inconsolable all the time. I remember one night he was just up screaming at the top of his lungs. I could not console him, and I just remember. Just screaming along with him, just crying.
I was exhausted. I was tired, I was depleted. I was depressed. And that was the first time that I believe that I started experiencing some postpartum depression without fully understanding all that I was dealing with. Even though that I knew about postpartum depression, I knew about depression, but I didn't understand just how it impacted
and affected every aspect of my livelihood. The feelings that I experienced after having my second were pretty consistent all throughout my motherhood journey. I remember my emotions just being like a yo-yo, where. One minute I would find and feel complete joy, and in other moments I would feel completely discouraged, where in some moments I would feel guilt and other moments I would feel shame for feeling the guilt.
And it was almost just like this cycle, and I had a very hard time just reigning in my emotions. The transition of motherhood for me just honestly been a very difficult transition; and I think the reason that that is, is when we think of a transition period, we think of the time in between. The time in between one point
to another point. For me it was I'm transitioning and eventually I'm going to get to what I picture in my head of how I'm supposed to be as a mother, and the transition honestly is still happening. My oldest is almost 10 years and I'm still transitioning into motherhood, and I think that a lot of times we disregard
the transition and how long it takes and how often we shift, how often we must be flexible and pliable depending on the different seasons in our motherhood journeys. . I think that for me personally, that the transition has been difficult because I have put a picture or an idea of who my ideal self is as a mother, and I've often compared myself to how I was or who I was or what I used to do before motherhood. And for a very, very long time up, really up until recently,
it was just this confusionbecause it's like I'm not my ideal self as a mother and I'm no longer the person that I was before motherhood. So really, who am I? Who is Kilah and trying to discover this and leaning into these questions truly are what I believe have helped me to tend to my soul and really connect on a spiritual and emotional level to myself and to others, and to God in my motherhood journey.
Society tells us that our transition might only last a few weeks, or that we should snap back a couple of months after giving birth, or you know, that we should encourage ourselves to get back to who we were before having children since becoming mothers. Society does not really acknowledge the difficulties, the losses, the questions, and all of the changes that so many of us experience as mothers that really interconnect and tug at us on a soul level.
And today, that's what I want to guide you through. I want to guide you through what it looks like to truly tend to your soul in our motherhood journey so that you can reclaim your emotional and your spiritual health. Because those aspects are so critical when we talk about showing up as the person or the mom that we deeply desire to be.
So let's remember what your soul is. Your soul is your moral and your emotional nature, your sense of identity. Let me speak more on this, on a very personal. So I mentioned earlier that I had a really hard time reigning in my emotions in some seasons of my motherhood journey, and if you've listened to the episodes, the previous episodes on overcoming postnatal depletion, then you'll have a little bit more understanding of how your emotions and your ability to control your emotions is connected with your hormones, which is connected with your nutrient levels.
So we might understand why things like postpartum rage exist, or why things like postpartum anxiety exist, or why certain symptoms, emotional symptoms that are correlated with depression, we might understand how those interconnect now. Now, at the time, at the onset of my motherhood journey, I didn't understand that my depletion, my nutrient depletion was impacting.
Literally the way that my brain thought and my ability to, uh, or lack of ability, rather, to reign in my emotions. So there were times where I would be flying off the handle at my kids and just be feeling so guilty and shameful at the end of the day, knowing that at a soul level. , that's not me. Like, that's not how I relate to people, and this is not how I saw myself relating to my children
as a mother, I had in mind, you know, I wanna be a conscious mom. I wanna be a mom who is able to relate to her children. I wanted to be the mom who knew how to get on the level of her children and just to nurture her children and love. Everything that I wanted for myself, there was a disconnect and I couldn't understand why am I not the mom that I truly wanna be?
And sometimes I still have to ask myself this question. So as I questioned who I was before motherhood and I questioned and compared how I now am since having children... I'm not a rageful person. I wasn't a person who would just sit around all day and struggle to do everyday tasks. Before motherhood I was a person who was a goal setter, who accomplished tasks.
I was an overachiever and, in my very first season of depression, there was a huge identity shift. There was a huge identity loss. I did not recognize myself. And a lot of times when we talk about losing ourselves in motherhood, we talk about how we exhaust all of ourselves to meet the needs of our children.
How, you know, we don't have a life outside of motherhood because our children are demanding every moment of our time. But we don't really talk about the loss of truly losing your emotional identity and your spiritual identity, and even your mental identity. Loss of identity in each of these areas can really look different depending on who you are and what your experiences are.
So I encourage you to ask yourself some of these questions related to your identity that maybe you've been suppressing since becoming a mother. Loss in emotional identity may look like kind of what I discussed a little bit before, but just noticing that emotionally you are not how you were before having children.
It might look like difficulty reigning in or controlling your emotions. It might look like noticing that, Hey, I did not used to cry this much before having kids, and now I just am feeling really sensitive to everything. When an emotional identity shift happens, you're simply observing that, hey, on an emotional level, I'm not who I once was.
So when we talk about the loss of your mental identity, it's very similar to the loss of your emotional identity. This may look like you observing and acknowledging that, hey, I don't think the same way about certain things that I used to think, or my mentality is different. And when we talk about loss of your spiritual identity, for me this was actually a literal loss.
On a spiritual level, when I became a mother and when, specifically when I started experiencing depression and depletion, I literally felt a disconnection from God. I started to feel disconnected from, um, I, I spoke about this before, just feeling very disconnected from my children on a spiritual and moral level, and the moral disconnection not only impacted me on a personal level, but it also impacted my interpersonal relationships. Losing my spiritual identity involved a misalignment with my moral values and my behaviors. And what that looked like practically was
morally speaking, it was wrong for me to show up as a mom who was full of rage or to feel discontent in where I was as a mother. I really just experienced a sense of not feeling grounded and really losing my foundation spiritually, I can remember some of my prayers just being me, pleading like, God,
you know, I'm exhausted, you know, I'm depressed, you know, I'm depleted. Like, why can't you just come to me without me coming to you because I'm too tired to like try to figure this out on my own? And that loss of identity, this the spiritual loss, was probably one of the most impactful. One thing that I want to make very clear as you're listening in is, that it's so important
for us to no longer view what we may deem as losses- it's so important for us to not view these things as losses, but rather they are shifts. They are transformation. These things are preparing you to be the person that you are meant to be. And the thing that really clicked for me in my motherhood journey, and this click just came recently, and I'm still working on it.
I'm still changing my mindset, but the thing that really clicked for me is when I began to truly just embrace the process. When I stopped resisting the transition, when I stopped comparing myself to, oh, this is how I once was and started, I stopped mourning, like, I'm no longer this person. Who is this person?
I started truly taking the time to discover who is this new person and who am I made to be because of all that I am experiencing now that I am a mother. When we answer these questions, when we get to the bottom of it, when we get to the heart of the issue, then we can truly tend to our souls. We can soulfully connect to ourselves, we can soulfully connect to those that we love
and we can reignite our connection to God. I wanna guide you through a few things that you can do practically and a few ways that you can just kind of shift your mindset to truly tend to your soul in this season. So the first thing that you can do to truly tend to your soul is to, number one, grieve your losses.
This is something that we are not often encouraged to do as mothers, to acknowledge that when we become mothers, we often lose time, we lose energy, we lose some of our independence, we lose spontaneity. There's so much that we lose and that we sacrifice when we become mothers, and it's 100% okay..I'm giving you permission today to grieve those losses--
to acknowledge those losses. And grieving and acknowledging it's not the same thing as playing the victim. I know that that was one thing that I really got caught up in is just acknowledging that, oh my goodness, things are so different. I've lost all of this, and I stayed in that place and I didn't know how to move forward.
It was just a constant mental battle of just trying to get back to how things were before I came into motherhood. But that's not what grieving necessarily looks like. But when we grieve, we can verbally acknowledge, or we can acknowledge in a safe space, in a journal, we can acknowledge, hey, this is what I've lost since becoming a mother, and this is how it's made me feel.
We begin to really process our true feelings of loss that have happened as a result of motherhood. For me personally, a lot of those losses were exactly what I mentioned. I know that before we started having kids, Chuck and I would just get up and we would go, we would take late night drives at like two o'clock in the morning and that was just such a special time for us.
And right now we don't have that spontaneity in our relationship where we could just get up and go without having to pay attention to the tiny humans that we've created. So, that was one loss for me, that spontaneity that came before my motherhood journey. Time was another huge loss for me. Just the amount of time that our kids demand of us, especially if you have multiple children, man, it could be exhausting.
It could feel like, because of all this time that we spend sacrificing, we don't have much time to ourselves and we can begin to resent our roles. So this, again, just acknowledging what are your losses and then not only acknowledging what your losses are, but for me, I had to paint a picture of how practically I could attain some of the things that I lost since becoming a mother.
What does it look like to have more time to myself now that I have five kids? Or what does it look like to embrace my passion and my career as a mom of five now? Or what does it look like to be spontaneous with my husband even while having five children? So, It's not necessarily a loss and you're one and done and you can never have these things again.
It's reframing your mind and figuring out how do I gain some of these things back in a way that's practical to my life now that I am a mother. The second thing I'll recommend as you're trying to discover what it takes to truly tend to your soul is to lower your expectation. I mentioned before just how I have this expectation of the mom that I'm supposed to be and the mom that I desire to be, and
what things should look like within my life. A lot of times those expectations are just too high. I have too high expectations of myself. I have two high expectations of my children, and I have two high expectations of those around me; and it often leads to a place of discouragement. So what expectations do you have that are too high that you can lower with the hopes of reconnecting with yourself and reconnecting to others, and reconnecting to the things that you love so that you can tend to your soul?
The last tip that I'll give is we're discussing what is needed to tend to your soul is to discover or maybe rediscover your purpose. During my transition into motherhood, as I have transitioned as a mom of five, during my identity crisis, where I'm trying to figure out who is this person, I truly had to figure out what is my purpose in life.
And I think one of my biggest struggles was when people tried to tell me what my purpose was, and I just knew down deep in my core that was not what God had for me. So I listened to the thoughts and the opinions of other people, you know, so, Since I was a mom, I should dedicate all of my time and all of my energy in raising and rearing my children.
And while that's a beautiful thing, and that might be where some women are called, I 100% believe that God has a unique plan for each individual person. And here's the thing, you may think that you know your purpose. Before you started having kids, you may have thought, you know, this is my purpose.
This is what I'm doing in life. And since having kids, there might have been a total redirection in what your life's purpose is. Another way to look at it is your life's purpose may not be set in stone. It may not be, this is the one purpose that is set for my life, and this is what I'm dedicating myself to do.
Your purpose may change each season, and so it's so important for us as mothers to be flexible to the season and to pay attention and be in tune with what am I supposed to be doing? What is my purpose for this season in life? Another thing to consider is that your purpose might be multifaceted, and that is what brings true for me.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure. Should I be helping women to recover their health in their postpartum journey? Or do I need to focus my time and just be a stay-at-home mom and then just wait, you know, when the kids are older, I can go out and I can do all the things that I feel like I'm called to do outside of my home.
The truth for me is that God has given me multiple purposes. I can now see over the last nine years where I've experienced depletion and depression, although that was such a trying and difficult and exhausting time for me, I now see how everything that I went through equip me to relate to mothers on a soul level.
Recovering and reclaiming my health has allowed me to relate to my children on a deeper soul level. This entire process, my entire motherhood journey has truly given me an opportunity to see who God is and to form a new identity. I spend less time trying to figure out who am I? Who was I before motherhood?
Who am I during motherhood? Because this process has propelled me into a season of which I have stripped myself of myself. My focus is no longer on me because I know that. My purpose involves something more than myself. And embracing this entire process of just tending to my soul and rediscovering who I am, it's helped me to set my eyes on those around me.
who we'e struggling just like I was our who are struggling just like I am. Cuz like I say all the time, we're in this together. We're building this community to learn and to heal together. Some of you have lost not only your complete sense of your physical self, but you've also completely neglected your soul.
And because you've neglected your soul, you have no sense of identity. And because you have no sense of identity, you're truly struggling to know what your purpose is in motherhood and what your purpose is in life. And so I challenge you tonight. I challenge you before this week is out, before the week is over to begin exploring what it looks like
to truly tend to your soul. When you tend to your soul, you'll not only connect with yourself in a more efficient and an effective way, but you'll begin to connect with others and you'll begin to connect with something outside of and bigger than yourself. And for me, y'all know that's God, right? But if you want to continue this conversation, if you're just feeling, man, I'm just rolling through life.
I'm just on autopilot. I'm exhausted. I'm not loving it in this season, like everything about this season, I just hate it. I get it. I've been where you are. And I'm on the other side, and I wanna encourage you, I wanna connect with you, so join me in the Healthy Postpartum Mama Facebook group as we kind of continue the conversation of all things related to postpartum healing.
I'll drop the link to the group in the show notes. Thanks for tuning in, and I'll catch you on the next episode.
About the show
The Healthy Postpartum Mama Podcast is a space for us to chat about what it takes to recover your health holistically!
If you're a new mom who's planning for postpartum or a seasoned my a few years into your journey, join me every week. Let's learn and heal together 🖤SUBSCRIBE ON YouTube