All that you do is not all that you are.

Do you constantly feel like you don’t have enough time for the things you ‘need’ to do? Do you often go to bed feeling like you haven’t done enough?

 

For some reason in our society we attach our identity to what we do and have done, rather than what we are. We define ourselves by our occupation, our hobbies and our perceived successes rather than by our qualities like kindness, compassion and honesty.

 

This becomes a bit of a problem when you have a child. It’s really hard to find an identity you feel is worth celebrating if you still attach your worth to what you do each day. Daily life at home with kids has many mundane moments, and whilst there are also numerous highs, it is hard to define an identity amongst wiping dirty bums and 3000 loads of washing.
And no, I am in no way devaluing the work of parents and stay-at-home parents in particular, I honestly believe raising a little one is the most important ‘job’ you’ll ever have. Hell, I’d love to be purely stay at home, but alas we have to eat.
I struggled with this idea of identity when I first became a mother and still do at times when I forget it is my qualities, NOT what I have seemingly achieved in a day that counts.
I think what I missed most from teaching were the little ego boosts you get in working life. I would feel successful when a student finally understood a concept or when they achieved higher than even they expected. Unfortunately in the world of infants there is no such gratification. Or if you do find a moment of success and you feel you have finally ‘figured this parenting gig out’, your kid has a little radar which tells them it’s time to change the rules again.
In order to survive the extreme highs and lows of parenting and come out the other side still feeling like a confident and valuable person; we need to place more importance on those qualities that do not change, regardless of what we are doing. Because really, there is only one thing that is certain in life, and that is that it will change.
I am still the same person I was before having Eamon and when he no longer needs me with the same intensity, I will still know who I am. My interests, the way I spend my time and what I do to make money can change around me, but because they are not who I am; they don’t define me.
And I have to admit, it was Eamon who taught me this. (Another irony of motherhood). He showed me it didn’t matter that I had ‘lost’ so much from my old life, because right now being there for him, being me, is all I need to be.
I wouldn’t swap this for the world.

11 Responses to “All that you do is not all that you are.

  • Lila Wolff
    9 years ago

    SO beautiful and so true Bettina.

  • Erica @ recycled fashion
    9 years ago

    Wise words Bettina, I’ve always been somewhat frustrated when the first question a stranger asks is “what do you do?” as if that defines who we are. Its usually just an icebreaker, but I do find it slightly irritating!

  • littleoldsouls
    9 years ago

    Good on you Shari. I wish I’d been so strong in my resolution earlier on.

  • littleoldsouls
    9 years ago

    It is irritating, but I think it is also because our society doesn’t value the stay at home mother (or father) so we (wrongly) feel that we need to put that ‘just’ word in there when explaining what we do.

  • littleoldsouls
    9 years ago

    Thanks Lila. x

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com
    9 years ago

    Such a true sentiment Bettina. It is more about how we balance the qualities we want to nurture in ourselves regardless of the roles we play in life. I went through a long time defining myself as an infertile woman to the point that other roles almost disappeared. These days I’m mum to our two adopted kids among many roles, and hopefully I’ve nurtured some strengths and resilience along the way. Dropping by doing the Maxabella link-up for the first time.

  • I am constantly blown away by the powerful things these little munchkins teach us about ourselves. Love it Bettina, so so true xx

  • Maxabella
    9 years ago

    It’s interesting, but I consider that I am nothing like the person I was before I had my children. So many things about me have changed fundamentally. x

  • littleoldsouls
    9 years ago

    I thought that too Maxabella because so much of my life was different. But when I really thought about it, it was the outer things that had changed, not my qualities.

  • littleoldsouls
    9 years ago

    Yes they certainly are little Zen masters, always teaching. x

  • littleoldsouls
    9 years ago

    Thank you so much for dropping by and taking the time to comment. I’ve done the same thing in a way, defined myself by things that didn’t matter in the end. x

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