I Lost Myself in Motherhood… and I Don’t Regret It 

Oh, mamas... don't be afraid to "lose yourself in motherhood." You get one shot at it; dive in with everything you've got!

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: I Lost Myself in Motherhood… and I Don’t Regret It 

Written By Jessica Manning

I could tell she was growing more aggravated by the minute. My mom was used to waiting for my dad to arrive home from a weekend golf trip… and, typically, she was a fairly tolerant “golfer’s widow.” But on this particular day, my parents had plans, my dad was late, and she was upset.

When he got home, my mom expressed her frustration. I remember silently siding with my dad. Maybe it was because, as a 16-year-old girl, I inherently found my mom a little annoying. Regardless, I found her anger exasperating and vividly remember thinking, “Why doesn’t she just get her own hobbies and stop waiting for him all the time?” 

But, oh, how I can empathize with my mom now…

I Lost Myself in Motherhood… and I Don’t Regret It 


Similar to my dad, my husband is a hobby guy, going from one passion to the next. I often find myself waiting for him for whatever it might be – 18 holes of golf, a run, a project in the garage, lifting weights – you name it. One of his many hobbies is more often than not the reason we’re running late. 

I’m not going to lie, for many years my husband’s zest for his interests gave me a complex of sorts. What do I like to do? What’s my passion? Shouldn’t I have a passion?

I liked to golf. I liked to run. I liked to write. I liked to eat Mexican food. (I mean, who doesn’t, right?) But I wasn’t passionate about any of those things. What did it say about me that I didn’t have any interests I absolutely loved?

Honestly, when I was a young mom, I felt pressured to take up a hobby or, at the very least, commit to a cause because I’d read so much advice encouraging life balance and not losing yourself to motherhood. Hard as I tried, it occurred to me that I was becoming more and more like my mom all those years ago.

I’ve realized through the years that my mom’s greatest love was her family. She not only knew exactly what her passion was but relished the fact that it was enough

I wish I would have come to this realization about her sooner.

When I was 25 years old – just three months before my wedding – I lost my mom in a car accident. It was a time in my life when I had passed the teenage phase of being irritated by her (and perhaps being irritating myself), and I was on the cusp of understanding and appreciating who she was as a person. But it would be motherhood itself that would help me understand who she was as my mom.

I’ve thought about her every single day since she passed away. Somehow, 19 years of grieving and reflecting on her beautiful life and legacy hasn’t equipped me to adequately write about her. But I have many, many thoughts about her existence – thoughts that give me pause as I reflect on who I am as a human being and as a mom. 

I remember when I was a teenager, my mother’s love felt smothering. A heartfelt gaze at the wrong moment was enough to push me over the edge. And heaven forbid she tried to hug me when I wasn’t in the mood.

If only I had fully understood how deeply her love ran. If only I had comprehended that everything she did for me was an act of passion and that her family was truly her world

Would I have responded to her differently? Would I have been so annoyed?

At the time, I didn’t realize that I was her passion, as was my brother and my dad.

When I reflect on her love now, I am so overcome with gratitude that I literally feel it in my chest and my throat. Talk about smothering

I didn’t realize back then that when she came home from work and went straight to the kitchen to make me supper, it was driven by sheer maternal passion.

I couldn’t comprehend that it was in pursuit of her passion that she would get up earlier than me to make me jelly toast before morning basketball practices all winter long when I could have made it myself.

It just didn’t occur to me that her passion is what kept her up at night worrying, or why she stayed on top of all the laundry so we always had clean socks and underwear, or that her passion is what kept her going despite how worn down and exhausted she was.

I was always on her mind – like when she bought me clothes instead of herself, as well as the hundreds of times she pushed a grocery cart through the store making sure to grab all my favorites, so she could later unload them from the car, carry them into the house herself, and see the smile on my face when she showed me what she bought. 

What I thought were simply tasks of a mother that she HAD to do could not have been sustained if she hadn’t been passionate about being a mom and loving her family. You know the tasks I’m talking about – stocking the toilet paper, unloading the dishwasher, changing the sheets on multiple beds, and cleaning up after us time and time again.

And never mind that she knew each of us better than we knew ourselves because she’d spent years studying us, caring for us, and loving us. That is passion. 

My mom was passionately and beautifully lost in motherhood.

I’m guessing you’re not much different, Mama.

You knew what your babies wanted by the sound of their cries. And now you can spot a fever in your teen just by looking at them. You know when they’re sad by the way they walk in the door. You understand when a snappy response is prompted by anxiety. And you have a mental log of who wants ketchup versus who wants barbecue sauce, and every other idiosyncrasy about them that others might never notice in their lifetimes.

My mom might not have perfected a sport in her lifetime, dove passionately into a hobby, become an expert on a topic, or amassed an impressive collection of figurines (remember Precious Moments?!) but she certainly had a passion that occupied her heart, thoughts, and time. I was just too unaware to realize how interesting her uninhibited, selfless love made her. 

More than likely, your teen might seem unaware, too, of what drives you. But there will come a day when they understand that you made it your life mission to love them well. 

Oh, Mamas… don’t be afraid to “lose yourself in motherhood.” You get one shot at it; dive in with everything you’ve got! Study your children, invest in them, be their steady no matter what, and love them hard. 

I’m here to tell you it is MORE than okay for your family to be your greatest passion.

Of course, maintain a reasonable life balance, do things you love, and take time for yourself. But know that this passion of yours – loving your family, will someday become your legacy, just like my sweet mother’s and hopefully, mine. 


About Jessica Manning

Jessica is a high school counselor with over 20 years of experience working with teenagers. She earned an M.A. in school counseling and a B.A. in English and secondary education. Jessica is married to a high school principal and has three teenage boys; her current life revolves around all things teen. When not working or following her sons’ sporting events, Jessica appreciates any opportunity she gets to veg at home with her family and her dog, Phyllis. 


If you enjoyed reading, “I Lost Myself in Motherhood… and I Don’t Regret It,” you might like these posts, too!

The Mental Load of Motherhood: The Side Our Family Never Sees

The Force of Motherhood: The Desire to Protect Our Child’s Heart is Forever

My Precious Son: I Miss Your Littleness, But I’m in Awe of the Man You’re Becoming

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