parent opinion

'I'm having a mid-motherhood identity crisis.'

My eldest son Toby starts high school in a few weeks, and lately I have noticed a vibe shift as I transition into this new 'mid-motherhood' phase.

While Toby has exciting new freedoms (with boundaries) thanks to a second hand phone, I am adapting to who I am now in his life. 

My youngest son Leo, who is about to start year 1, has also had a developmental leap. Clearly my nearly six-year-old still needs his mum, but as his body lengthens and his interests and needs change, my role does too.

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Where once I would spend a lot of time physically carrying my boys about or getting down on the floor to play puzzles, read books, or draw together; they both now prefer to mostly play sport, sport, and more sport. I can tolerate a bit of handball in the backyard but watching or playing sport is not my area of expertise, so I have become a passive audience.

I have gained some freedom as the physical demands of early motherhood have lessened. This on the whole is very welcome, but whereas I understood my role as a busy mum of adorable infants sharing 'messy hair don't care' memes and downing coffee with my mum friends at playgroup, I'm still working out my exact role and feelings about this new phase.


To mark the end of one parenting era, I had a big sort out of the boys' old toys; listing a dolls house, chalkboard, and boxes of puzzles and toddler books on Facebook Marketplace. 

As I wistfully waved goodbye to those last baby toys, I felt such nostalgia for the intense early childhood mum years. And as someone who never felt very maternal and couldn't wait to leave the baby days behind, I recognise the irony. 

Before I had my boys, I wasn't even sure I wanted to be a mum. Yet here I was feeling emotional about the stage I used to wish away, having a mid-motherhood identity crisis and wondering exactly who I am now that my kids are growing up.

For years I have played a 'main character' role in both my boys' lives and as that slowly fades, I'm kind of... confused.

In the past, I focused on what seemed like endless markers around motherhood; the last breastfeed, the last nappy, the first day at preschool, the 'getting my fitness back after baby' phase, or finally getting back to work. 

And now? The parenting milestones are further apart and less noticeable to the outside world. They are less physical, less Instagram-able, and more emotional and organisational. 

As a mid-motherhood parent, I am navigating things like phone etiquette, friendship dilemmas, homework, and the after school activity schedule. But I am also still needed to do all the house related stuff alongside my husband while simultaneously trying to kick goals at work. It's a lot.


There is less understanding of what goes on behind the scenes for us parents of big kids coupled with a self-inflicted pressure that I should be able to 'do more' now that my boys are both well entrenched at school. 

The mental load is as big as it ever was, but to the outside world - who don't see me pushing a pram or holding a squawking toddler - it probably looks much easier. This is not how it always feels.

In fact, I am slowly realising that despite its excellent sleep filled nights and good chats with my lovely 'big kids', this mid-motherhood era is still very full-on.


And the intersection of reaching mid-motherhood while hitting middle age? Oomph.

My feelings about turning 44 this year sure are complicated. And I'm just so darn tired.

The gorgeous pregnant women and mums of new babies I see on the street are now in a whole other generation. 

They mostly seem young and glowy, rocking that activewear and agile pram as they sit in the same cafes I frequented both 12 and six years ago. 

I believe myself to still be them, but my grey hairs and hazy memories of when we dropped that second nap or introduced solids, makes me realise I've leveled up.

I'm reflective of how parenting in the toddler and infant phase was, while challenging, a special time for me. I felt frazzled, yes, but important and useful.

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I liked playgroup, and the unstructured days of basic games and funny chats over babycinos. I liked puzzles and dancing to The Wiggles. 

I still get plenty of cuddles at bedtime but my boys are no longer the cute babies or chubby-legged toddlers holding my hand and making strangers smile. They understandably want to see their friends on the weekend. They would rather play cricket in the backyard with each other than with me as my skills are pretty ordinary. And they definitely don't want to watch or dance to The Wiggles when there's a never ending supply of sports commentary on YouTube. They need me still but in a much less intense way.


I am now a mum of 'big kids' deep into the mid-motherhood stage, which much like middle age, feels a tad invisible.

When I was a mum to little ones, I felt like I belonged to a club; swapping war stories of total hours not slept or how to introduce solids and when. There are hundreds of books, podcasts, and beautiful Instagram accounts dedicated to this intense, challenging, and very cute phase of life. 

But there is much less written or discussed around this less visible mid-motherhood phase because most of us are just getting on with it. 

The mums I know and love who are also in mid-motherhood are still my people. But we are all spread much thinner with busier work lives and big kids' schedules.

Getting used to this mid-motherhood stage will take some time, but I love being with my boys as older humans with thoughts and opinions. 

The good news is they are thriving with all their big kids' skills and abilities and they both make me so proud even if I hate what they watch on YouTube.

Laura Jackel is Mamamia's Family Writer. For links to her articles and to see photos of her outfits and kids, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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