As a mother of so many children, one thing that gets me down more than anything else is the fact that I often feel as if I have lost my identity. How many of you meet other parents at the school gates and introduce yourself only as someone's mum? When Luke speaks at conferences or does interviews, I often wear a badge saying 'Luke's Mum' on it and inwardly scream that I may be his mum but I am a person in my own right too!
Shortly after having Anna, I began studying with the Open University in a bid to keep my sanity and take my mind off my screaming Luke. After finding myself pregnant with Joe and then Ben, I carried on studying and, despite Joe's and Ben's premature births and subsequent difficulties, managed to achieve many qualifications including a first class honours degree. I am now studying for a PhD. I am not telling you this because I am Superwoman (ask my kids and they will tell you I am not!) but rather to show that regardless of how busy life is, we all need another outlet in order for us to keep our identity and be ourselves as well as just a parent. My way is to write and to study, to garden and to spend time on the computer. Your way may be ice skating, baking, drawing, gardening, sitting and watching films, going out to work.. .the list is endless. Just remember that there is no right or wrong way to find your sense of self. Each of us is unique and we are all entitled to be people in our own right, regardless of how many other roles we play in life. For those of you with partners, remember that this applies equally to them and whilst it is vitally important that you both spend time together and be a couple rather than just parents, it is still important to maintain your own identity. Whilst your children are a pivotal part of your life and caring for them and worrying about them probably occupies every waking hour, without taking a break in some way, however small, the stress will eventually take its toll and the whole family will suffer.
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