As humans, we all play various roles throughout our lifetime. These roles differ in length and importance. Some are constant and permanent (sibling, daughter, mother) and others can be transient (friend, employee). Most of our permanent life roles we are born into and therefore have adequate time to assimilate into our personalities. For example, we don’t know what it feels like to not be a daughter, because we’ve held that role our entire lives.

Transitioning into motherhood is oftentimes very difficult because, other than being an older sibling, motherhood is one of the few constant and permanent roles that we come into later in life. Once you become a mother, you can never undo that role, so something fundamentally shifts inside each of us upon becoming a mom. 

Whereas we’ve been born into the role of daughter or sibling, the role of mother is something we have to learn. Great mothers are made, not born, so it’s a process of adaptation.  The fastest way to burnout as a mom is to begin your journey with an expectation you “should” know exactly what to do.  That being said, we’re bombarded with images from our family of origin, the media and our social circles about what it means to be a “good” mom. It’s easy to internalize these expectations then beat ourselves up if we don’t meet them. Truth is, everyone’s mothering will look different because we all have different strengths and weaknesses— and we all have different kids with unique temperaments. 

Knowing this, one thing I encourage mothers to do beyond the typical self-care (which is absolutely a crucial starting point) is to examine your beliefs about what being a mother means. Take a look at scripture that talks about mothers from a grace-filled perspective, not a checklist of what you’re failing to live up to.  God placed your children in your arms for a reason, because you are the very best mother for them. You’re not meant to face mothering alone, though.  Allowing God’s strength to be made perfect in your weakness is one of the cornerstones of grace-filled mothering. 

Here are a few additional ways to avoid losing yourself in motherhood.

 1.)   Every role transition brings both gains and losses, so it’s important for new mothers to explore what they feel they’ve lost by moving into this role and then allow themselves to actually grieve that loss. Be it a loss of independence, time to oneself or a shifting body, acknowledging the loss is the first step to acceptance (and eventually excitement) of the new role.

2.)   Given that we each bring unique gifts to our children based on our life experiences and temperament, the next step in healthy role transition is to identify and validate the strengths that “pre-baby you” bring to the table in this new role, then adapt your role as mother to your inherent strengths. It is in this space that a process called “integration” happens. You accept and honor the pre-baby version of yourself and that younger (and probably more rested!) part of you informs your current day-to- day interactions with your child(ren) and, most importantly, with yourself. We speak to ourselves more often than anyone else in our lives so having self-compassion in this process is crucial. The voices of the culture or other’s expectations can inform us, but they were never meant to be the verdict on who we are or how well we parent.

3.)   If you find the self-compassion piece difficult, you are not alone. Oftentimes this is a sign that you may benefit from getting some support to learn how to mother yourself as you mother your children. This process is one part of what mental health specialists call “re-parenting”.  Learning this practice offers us the nurturing inner voice we crave instead of a constant self-critical voice. Caring for another life is tiring enough without an internal critic that lives in our heads judging our every perceived mistake. Having compassion on ourselves inevitably spills over into our interactions with our children as well, who generally respond better when we parent out of our hopes for them, not our fears.  Scripture talks numerous times about God cares for us as a mother cares for her children (Isaiah 66:13 and Matthew 23:37) so if you’ve had a less-than-nurturing example of an Earthly mother, God longs to provide comfort and nurture the parts of you that need support.

 Ultimately, becoming a mother is a beautiful and transformative process, and we will change, but taking the time to explore what makes us come alive (and then letting go of the “mom guilt” to actually pursue it) is a way to honor all the various parts of ourselves. It is from that place that we can integrate our past into the present, creating a life that is authentic amongst all the different roles we carry. 

For more information and support in your mothering journey, visit If you’re interested in a support group for new moms or moms with young children, check out the “SHC Moms: The Little Years” support group at Sugar Hill Church. Click on REGISTER HERE at the bottom of the page: .