Sometimes after you have children, things don’t always feel as magical or fulfilling as you’d imagine they would. You might notice the relationships around you changing. Arguments with your spouse. Distance between you and friends who were once close. It can all feel confusing. And overwhelming.
While every mother should undergo screening for postpartum depression and other associated issues that can follow childbirth, it’s important to know that mothers with and without these conditions can feel malaise. It’s not even about the kids. It’s about the mother’s identity. That identity is evolving, leaving old parts of itself behind and growing to become all that life requires moving forward.
This changing identity which accompanies motherhood is something rarely spoken about today, but back when Randi Zinn started Beyond Mom, there were barely whispers on the issue. Zinn recognized this shift in herself, and felt like it needed to be discussed more widely. Today, Beyond Mom hosts a ton of content, including features of women both in careers and who have chosen the path of domestic homemaking, a book and a podcast.
Creativity and Loss
Zinn has always worked in creative capacities. Whether she’s been working in media, film or theater, providing quality content to the public while interacting with the press is her happy space. She brings those skills into her work today.
When she was 25, Zinn experienced something that would help her on her journey to Beyond Mom in a very different way. Her father passed away, and Zinn took over a lot of the responsibility at the family business. In that position, she honed acute problem-solving skills, which would also serve her further on in her career.
But that experience also taught her about loss and how to keep moving forward. When she found herself in a confusing place after becoming a mother, this allowed her to more easily identify the culprit: The loss of her identity. She learned to grieve through that loss, reach out to other women through it and eventually, build a platform that would allow others to do the same.
Solutions to Motherhood’s Loss of Identity
Zinn is quick to point out that the techniques many people find helpful to use in these situations could be helpful to everyone—not just mothers.
“Every person on the planet needs to slow down in our culture,” she says. “We are incredibly plugged in more than we realize, and it’s challenging to stand up against the flow and intensity.”
For her own part, Zinn uses yoga as her primary outlet. She also cites exercises like meditation to help bring yourself back to center. Leaning on your family and friend network is also helpful, as is talk therapy.
“The only way I know how to give space to those experiences is to be really present,” says Zinn. “I have nonnegotiable practices [like scheduled yoga sessions] so I can’t run away from myself too much. It’s the human nature of it: We will run away from ourselves. If you have those tools and practices on daily or at least on a weekly basis it will help you stay more grounded and get back into being real about what’s going on in your life. “
The Guilt of Taking Time to Yourself
Sometimes the mom guilt can get so real that it makes it difficult for you to do the things you need to do in order to take care of yourself. But you absolutely need to take care of yourself and don’t have to hold on to the guilt you feel.
Zinn also runs retreats for about 20 women at a time. She says that invariably, regardless of the decision to work or stay at home, all of the women are feeling the same level of this guilt.
“We’re living in a culture of guilt and shame,” she explains. “Women feel alienated and alone in these times. They don’t know what to listen to who to talk to or even the power of slowing down and listening inwards.”
To get everyone started, Zinn has them write down all their ‘garbage thoughts,’ which simply aren’t helpful. She then encourages them to look at the bigger picture.
“If you feel conflicted about going, take a deep breath and ask, 'who is the person I’m trying to be? Who is the mom I’m trying to be?' This should inspire not guilt, but fuel for working towards that bigger picture of yourself. You can prioritize relationships, too, like a few days away with your partner. But what does it mean? Do you want your children to witness a partnership where they feel connected to each other and the world doesn’t revolve around them? Then smaller decisions become easier.”
Being a mom will never become easy, but Zinn and the conversations she inspires are going a long way to making it easier.