#MomLife: That moment when you realize you’ve lost yourself 

Throughout my 38 years of life I have held many titles: Daughter, sister, wife, cousin, aunt, friend, volunteer, leader, community member, employee, mom. I know there’s more but I don’t want to bore you in the first paragraph. With that said, being a mom is my most important title, which I’ve held for 15 years now. 

September 1, 2007 was the day it became official, my daughter was born. I remember the first time I saw her I just sighed from relief. We had done it. We brought another human being into this world. I immediately jumped into my new role, and became your stereotypical “new mom.” I was so dorky now that I look back. I took a million pictures of every single move she made, I documented everything. I joined every mom group that I could find, I even started my own local mom group. Cadence quickly became my tiny little best friend, she consumed my whole life. And that’s just exactly the way I wanted it. 

Since then my life has revolved around Cadence, Nathan, and Leif, and their needs. My identity quickly shifted from Steph to Steph the wife to Steph the wife and mom. Their needs came first and I quickly started losing myself. But that was OK as long as my children and husband had what they needed, I always managed to keep my head above water. In those years I have added household manager, caretaker, organizer, and more to my list of titles. But I still had a hard time finding Steph. But at the time I had no idea I was missing. I only knew what was right in front of me. 

Looking back I now realize years ago I traded in Steph the person for Steph the mom, and forgot all about the person I was, the person I am, and the person I want to be. Now, don’t get me wrong, being a mom is my favorite thing but I now realize I also need to just be Steph sometimes to keep my sanity and wellbeing in check. I need to stop feeling guilty for not being able to do everything. I am only human, not a superhero, so I need to stop expecting perfection and start accepting my flaws. 

I am a flawed human. I can be selfish, I don’t know how to manage my money, I struggle with mental health issues, I can’t say no, I’m a hoarder, I have an unhealthy relationship with food. But that is what makes me, me. I am also funny, trusting, friendly, giving, loving, and that also makes me, me. I just need to do a better job remembering that. 

This wintery, Christmas season always makes me reflect on the past year and who and what I have done, and what I could have done better. I have come to realize I could have done a better job navigating life and making sure Steph the person is still there, and not lost in the sea of titles. I need to learn how to balance #MomLife, wife life, employee life, and Steph life. I can take care of my family and still be me every now and then, even if that means putting everyone to bed and then vegging out on the couch eating my feelings. 

That moment you realize you’ve lost yourself kind of hits you out of nowhere. One minute you’re consumed with life, the next you’re sitting there wondering where things changed. I can tell you that I don’t regret the choices I have made. But I do regret letting myself fall to the sideline. 

I fear when readers finish this column they will interpret it in a way that makes it sound like I regret becoming a mother. And that is not the case at all. What I want to make clear is we as mothers need to remember we can be a mom and a wife and a million other titles all at the same time but still be ourselves. We need breaks. We need quiet solitude. We need time to just be. And we can’t let ourselves get so consumed with everyone else’s wellbeing and happiness that we let ours go.

I love being a mother and a wife. I am happy to take care of my family. But I am also going to learn how to say no more often to allow for some me time. 

This is a stressful time for everyone with the holidays right around the corner, and seasonal depression sticking its nose in our business, so just know it is OK to struggle, and not know where you’re going or what you’re doing next. Just know I am here to listen if you need an ear. I will try to help you find yourself again while simultaneously trying to find myself. I am Steph the mother, Steph the wife, Steph the family member and friend, Steph the employee and Steph the person. This is who I am.

Steph Hightree is a hot mess mom who is fueled by stress and too much caffeine. She is a Three Rivers native who talks about the good, the bad, and well, everything else about parenthood.

Any views or opinions expressed in “#MomLife” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.