From the moment you get pregnant, scratch that – from the moment you get married it seems as though all people ever want to tell you is how different life is going to be once children come along. I wasn’t especially young when I started a family, and therefore I heard a lot of “just you wait…” as if I had no understanding of how children could cause a priority shift.
Oh, you woke up at 10 am and went to brunch? Just wait until the kids come along, you’ll see how different those Sunday mornings are.
You spent how much on those shoes? You’re in for one hell of a wake-up call once kids arrive.
A spur of the moment weekend getaway? Well, that’s how I know you have no kids. Once you do there is just no time or money for that kind of stuff.
First off, I would like to address the belief that having children means mom should give up everything she enjoys doing. This strange, pervasive notion that a woman should throw every precious second and penny she has into being a mom. That is not healthy or realistic for anyone involved. Let’s just cut the mom guilt out altogether, please. Second, just because someone doesn’t have children yet does not mean they lack the mental capacity to understand the budgetary and schedule changes kids bring. Nobody is sitting around under the impression that having another mouth to feed and a human to raise will just fit into their current lifestyle. Nobody.
So, yes, we are all aware that life changes on many levels when you become a parent. However, what I want to talk about is not how my life has changed, but how I have changed as a person. Becoming a mother was, by far, the most pivotal moment in my life in about a million ways. What I am realizing, though, is that the “me” that existed before my pregnancy is not the same “me” typing these words. I’ve kept the core components of my personality, but certain aspects that have grown, faded or changed entirely. Here are the most significant changes I have noticed in myself since Nikki showed up a little over a year ago.
I have a much stronger desire to see & create positive changes in the world
This encompasses a lot and it is almost cheating to use it as one bullet point, but it is so important. I have always cared about things like human rights, feminism, social acceptance, individual freedoms, cultural awareness, and the like, but having a child has added a layer of depth and complexity to those beliefs. Now, I find myself engaging with people who I may have once ignored on sensitive topics. I am painfully aware of the subculture that society will be shoving down my daughter’s throat. Now, I take an active chance to fight back against it whenever an opportunity presents itself. I want to have open and informative discussions regarding body shaming, slut shaming, gay bashing, reproductive rights, mental health awareness, and so many other areas where large portions of society remain ignorant.
What I want is for my daughter to grow up in a world that is better than the one in which I did. I want her to look at all people and see them as full of worth and beauty – and I want the world to look at her in the same way.
I am far blunter than I have ever been
Never ask a momma to spare your feelings, because when the hard things need to be said, it is usually a mom who is going to say them. I have always been the brutally honest type, but since becoming a mom, I am REALLY pulling no punches. I have no time to beat around the bush to spare your emotions. It’s not that I lack empathy or want to hurt anyone’s feelings. At the end of the day if you ‘re going to seek my advice expect the delivery to come with a well-measured dose of reality. If your current situation is in any way related to your behavior, I will tell you so in the kindest but most direct way possible. This comes into play for my next point as well.
I am more selfish
I am sure you are confused a bit by this one, so let me explain. Mom is a full-time job from the moment you are handed that swaddled, swollen precious life until you take your final breath. Sure, it gets a bit easier once they grow into (hopefully) well-functioning adults, but you ask any mother, and she will tell you how she worries and cares for her child, regardless of their age. Whether you are 5 or 55 when something terrible or beautiful or downright horrifying happens in your life to whom do you turn first? I’d put money on your answer being your mom!
While in a million ways you become more selfless as a mom, it is so incredibly important to remember that you are an individual woman as well. I have needs and interests, and I will be as blunt as hell to express to the world that occasionally I need to make myself a priority. Demanding me time once in a while makes me a better mom, and keeps me grounded. It reminds me that my identity is so much more than just mommy.
I “stop and smell the flowers” with more frequency and intention
As a fast-talking, always moving New Yorker with a family, a career, my own small business, a steady schedule of volunteer responsibilities, a plethora of social obligations, and a never-ending list of dreams and goals to accomplish it can be incredibly hard to press pause. Having my daughter forced me to slow the hell down. Life is such a beautiful thing and having a child honestly reminds you of how fast your life is moving. You bring home this tiny, sweet-smelling bundle and when you blink for just a moment, she learns to roll, sit, crawl, stand-up, run, and speak. You find yourself at that first birthday wholly bewildered as to how a year could pass so quickly.
I find myself looking up from my work and away from my phone so often, now, just to live in the same moment Nikki does. I stop and watch her learn, play, and discover and those are the very best parts of each day. Exploring the world through the eyes of a child, to whom everything is new and exciting, is such a humbling experience. I want to live in the little slow moving moments that become snapshots in our memory archives.
I am more empathetic
Motherhood has changed how I viewed every other parent, and human, and the intricate way in which our similarities connect us. Any remaining sliver of youthful pride and arrogance is washed away in the flash flood that is becoming a mom. You become every mother and her struggle, every grandmother, and her wistful desire to stop time, every woman fighting to find a way to have it all and make it work. Every child could be my child, and each distressing news story yanks my heart into my throat. We often say “I can’t even imagine…” but, as a mother, that is a lie. We do imagine, and we fight against the sadness induced by just imaging.
Becoming a mom did not only causes me to feel empathy more acutely, but it also taught me that compassion is so much more than being vulnerable. It also means being strong, so unbelievably strong.
So there you have it. The most prominent changes I perceive in myself since I began my journey down the well-traveled path of motherhood.
Has parenthood changed you? If so, in what ways do you find yourself altered?