Life Lately: A Tale of Two Identities

by | Feb 5, 2024 | life, life changes, life lately, real talk, thoughts | 0 comments

If I’m being honest, I’ve been struggling a bit with my new identity as “Mom.”
For so long, I’ve wrapped myself up in my career and my work achievements. Since college, I’ve been known as the token career girl, someone whom my close family and friends turn to when they need career advice or a resume review. I’ve taken pride in that role, supporting those where they need guidance while I simultaneously grow my own career.
It’s one of the reasons I chose to start Lipstick & Ink back in 2018 – it was a place for me to share my work experiences and combine my passion for writing and career development. If you’ve been following along for awhile, you know that my career blog has since morphed into a career coaching business. Between that and working in the corporate world, I’ve made my job and career advancement a priority. Personal fulfillment to me has been about reaching my career goals with my work being an integral part of my identity pre-motherhood.
But when I birthed my son this past October, I also birthed a new identity: mother. The collision of my two identities – career woman and mother, two seemingly incompatible ways of being – has me trying to sort through this complicated new me.
Kelly holds her son, James in arms.
I wasn’t sure how I’d adapt to motherhood and my new identity. In reflecting on the last three months, there’s been a series of challenges I’ve run up against – choosing patience in the tough moments, letting go of the fact my to-do list will never fully be checked off, and accepting that my “free time” looks a lot different now. While I’ve surprised myself in a lot of ways, I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy. And this is me just trying to figure things out with my business as I’m still on maternity leave through May. It’s overwhelming to think how much more complex this is going to get once I have my full-time job back in the mix.
I’m doing my best to process, maybe even grieve, this shift in identity. Because I know deep down that the way I operated in my life and prioritized my work and professional development has inevitably changed. I know that I’m going to have to delay or even forgo opportunities in my career because my son and the time I have with my family is now my top priority. I know that I have to give up on being the ‘rock star’ I’ve lovingly been coined at work by managers and colleagues alike because I simply do not and will not have the extra stamina to go above and beyond. And, I know that L&I may not grow as quickly as I’d like because trying to balance a full-time job, a child, and a small business is a major juggling act. It’s all very much still a work in progress, much like I am, but here is where I’m starting:
I’m encouraging myself to lean into the new me. I know that my identity is going to change and morph numerous times during my life. Even though entering parenthood is likely the biggest shift, instead of seeing it as a disruption, I’m trying to see it as an expansion and evolution of the person I am. Becoming a parent doesn’t mean that I have to abandon other parts of myself. It’s just now going to look different. I am working through letting go of the internal pressures I put on myself and am giving myself the grace and flexibility that I deserve during this pivotal change.
I’m having to rethink what success means. I used to define myself by my achievements but now I need to think beyond that. Now, merely surviving and keeping another human alive are huge accomplishments. I know that I’m going to have to give up the fact that working late into the night to get ahead is likely a thing of the past. I’m having to accept that the extra time I once had to work on my business is now limited and that I need to prioritize what I do more than ever. Success now is looking like racking up wins at home, like making my son laugh or watching him achieve milestones of his own.
I’m learning to ask for and accept help. I’ve never been good about doing this. I’ve always had an “I’ll do it myself” mentality but by holding onto that, I’m doing myself a disservice and making things harder for myself than they have to be. By asking for help from Adam or accepting support from loved ones, I’m able to carve out time for myself to do the things that I love and that allow me to operate at my best. This is more important to me than ever as it reminds me who I am beyond the title of ‘James’ mom.’
I’m seeking out support and camaraderie. I know so many incredible moms who are also fellow career gals, absolutely killing it both at home and in the workplace. It’s comforting to know that I can lean on them to ask questions and to validate my feelings. (A big thank you – you know who you are.) Seeing these women find some sense of balance amidst the chaos that is motherhood is encouraging that I will too (even if it’s not right away).
I’m only in month four of this but I know that as I settle into motherhood, I’ll find a new rhythm and the expansion of my identity will get easier to embrace. In the meantime, I’ll be over here doing my best to figure it out.
Pink lipstick stain

Welcome to Lipstick & Ink®, your home for everything career and life inspired. I’m Kelly, a Chicago-based career coach, branding consultant, and speaker.

Whether we’re working together on achieving your career aspirations, refreshing your professional documents, or crafting your brand, think of me as your career sidekick who is going to push you to your potential and cheer you on every step of the way.




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