Who am I? One mum's identity crisis

Mother, wife, employee ... Elisabeth Lambert is having trouble finding herself.
Mother, wife, employee ... Elisabeth Lambert is having trouble finding herself. 

It’s eight months after the birth of my first child and I still don’t know where I’m at. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how to reconcile the new mother me with the old, pre-baby me.

It’s not about wanting to go out all night on weekends, or to live a life without responsibilities – after all, that’s what my twenties were for. It’s more about matching up my preconceived ideas of motherhood with the reality of it all, and it’s given me a small identity crisis.

The year I turned 30, everything seemed to fall into place. All the unnecessary angst that accompanied my twenties evaporated, and for the first time ever, I was happy in my own skin. It didn’t matter what life threw at me. I knew who I was.

Yet what happened in the following three years (in no particular order: six moves, including two relocations to different countries, a mortgage, three job changes, a wedding, a baby, 10 overseas trips, and one major surgery) left me little time to adapt accordingly to each change before dealing with the next one ... including the biggest change, becoming a mum.

As a result, it’s as though I’m leading a handful of lives at once, and there’s a small part of me stuck in each one. I can’t seem to fully engage with whatever’s in front of me, or figure out how to simply ‘be’ as I am now.

I'm even confused about my name. I had every intention of taking my husband’s surname when we married two years ago – it’s a great name, with a wonderful history attached to it through the science of evolution and, more recently, as a result of my husband’s own sporting achievements. It’s a name I’m proud to be associated with, and for my children to have.

But when we got married we were living overseas, where changing a name was almost impossible. And now, while I operate under my married name on some levels, suddenly the name that has accompanied my entire life – the name that, in essence, is me – is proving extremely difficult to say goodbye to.

So as I contemplate life as a Lambert, Darwin or, at times, a Lambert Darwin, “Mama” has been added to the mix by my eight-month-old son. Which just sounds odd. Mama … who? What, he means me? Oh, that’s right, it’s my son, and he’s calling out for me. MY SON! FOR ME!

Adjusting to life as said “Mama” has been a rockier road than anticipated – especially because I don’t feel any more grown up than I did pre-baby. How can I possibly expect to guide my child through to adulthood when I feel I’m leading him through life with the lights off?

Then there’s juggling life as Mama and a Mrs. When it comes to love and other indoor sports, I’m all for it … as long as the baby is asleep, I’m not tired, the house is clean, the garbage is out, the moon is full, the moon isn’t full, and the dog is in the laundry, even though we don’t have a dog. Naïve and pre-baby, my husband and I’d laughed and said that would never be us. And then boom – before we knew it, that really was us.

Now work has also been thrown into the mix. Although I have a boss to answer to, it’s really this gorgeous blond-haired blue-eyed happy little baby who’s running my career. When I work from home, it’s no longer possible to zone out and finish an article. When I’m in the office, I can’t stick around for that extra five minutes.

And what babies do outside of work hours impacts on working life too. I often surprise myself at how much I can accomplish with so little sleep, and think about how many other women must be out there doing the same thing.

I find limitations with work quite tricky to square with where life’s currently positioned me. I thought this balance would come naturally. Shouldn’t it be easy to let of go of work in favour of your child? In fact, shouldn’t it be easy to let go of anything when weighed up against newfound motherhood?

All new mums-to-be are told that nothing from your pre-baby life will matter once the baby is in your arms. But it does. Everything “before” matters – it went into making me who I am, and “before” is shaping who I’ll be as parent. Same goes for the daddies.

Yes, I’m “Mama”. Yes, I’m a wife, no matter which surname I use. Yes, I’m an employee who loves her job. I’m also a whole lot more too.

Maybe the mistake I’ve made has been in expecting that all these facets of my life will co-exist as they are, rather than seeing what will grow and adapt organically, and what will naturally fall by the wayside. It’s funny that it all boils down to evolution, but I think Charles would be proud.

It's all about matching up my preconceived ideas of motherhood with the reality of it all, and it’s given me a small identity crisis.