Why do I feel like I'm nothing more than a wife and mom?

I'm in my mid 20s with a husband and children. I love my family, but I feel like I've lost my identity, and I don't know who I am other than a mom and wife. At times, all I can think is what I gave up and how I feel unhappy and trapped, but I know I'd feel like worse without them. I loathe myself at times. I have an amazing life, so why can't I just enjoy it?

Being a parent can be all-consuming.  And there are more societal pressures on mothers to be everything to their children and families.  In that effort to be everything (cook, housekeeper, planner, social organizer, teacher, etc) it can be easy to forget about being you.  We can certainly acknowledge that becoming a mother likely means giving up or sacrificing parts of yourself for motherhood.  There are parts of becoming a mother that can be wonderful and magical, and parts of it that can be just flat out hard.  I think it is very important however, for all parents to ask for what they need and to carve out the time to nurture their individuality.  This may not only be supportive to you, but it sets a great example for your kids about how to advocate for their needs, and teach them about the depth and interests of their mother.
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Toni Genovese
Toni Genovese
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

It is not easy being a wife and mother. You have shifted roles in your life. You went from having a career to focusing on your family. Transitioning can be hard, especially when we feel we gave something up that we really wanted. I want to acknowledge you for wanting to be the best wife and mother you can. I think it is great that you are self-aware and want to work on this.

Feeling "unhappy and trapped" may also mean that you are  believing these negative thoughts are absolutely true. We have lots and lots of thoughts throughout the day. Sometimes we pay a lot of attention to some and some we ignore. Right now these thoughts are getting a lot of your attention and perhaps you are thinking because you are thinking them they are true.  Is it really true that you trapped? You also said that you have an amazing life. It doesn't sound like you are only having negative thoughts. You have some positive ones, too. However, you are giving a lot of weight to the negative thoughts, more weight than the positive ones.

I also wonder if you are struggling with the fact that you are even having this thought. One thing that can be helpful is to recognize that you are having a thought, that it is a negative thought, that thinking it does not make it true, and to let it go. This is the basis for mindfulness work that can be really helpful. It is a great place for you to start so you can balance out your thoughts and emotions.

Best of luck to you!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
I tailor my therapeutic approach to each client's strengths and goals

It sound like there are some parts of your life that you really enjoy it and also some things that you wish were different.

You say you feel like nothing more than a wife and mom, so I wonder if you could make a list of what else you are (friend, daughter, etc.). I also wonder if you could list your positive attributes or skills.

I don't know what you gave up, but I wonder if there is some way that you could spend an hour or so a week working on things that you like and/or spending some time with what you did before you had children. For example, if you're missing a certain part of your career, maybe you could work with your husband to come up with a plan where you could do whenever that is for one day a week. There are often a lot of small changes that can lead you in that direction.

Of course, that is assuming that you want to continue being involved with what you were doing before.  If not, what else do you want to do? What is it that makes you feel happy? What do you look forward to? Remember that looking forward to having an hour or two where you can do something for yourself does not mean that you are not a good mother or wife. These ideas can coexist.

Can you talk with your husband about how you are feeling? Do you have trust for one another with feelings such as these?

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal, as if you want to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, or are in crisis, call 800-273-8255 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), call 911, or proceed to your local emergency room.

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