being a mom
10 Ways Motherhood Changes Everyone
As mothers, we are undeniably different in a myriad of ways. The choices we make for our children since birth sometimes come to define the way we think of ourselves as parents. Some of us breastfeed exclusively until our babies aren’t babies. Some go straight to formula. Some homeschool or unschool or nature school while others prefer good old fashioned public school. Some cosleep and others think a crib down the hall ensures everyone gets the best rest. No matter how tolerant we are of each other’s choices, we undoubtedly have opinions about what is best. That’s because we’re mothers and we (mostly) care deeply about these seemingly menial choices. At times, they can feel like the most important thing in our universe.
But as a parent for the past four years and a half years and now, a mother of two, I’ve come to realize that we all have a lot more in common than we think. Because something happens to us when we become mothers and it has little to do with whether there’s pampers or organic cloth covering our baby’s bums. It’s an undeniable change and a shift in the way we see the world that every true mother experiences. Whether you became a mother by accident or tried to get pregnant for years, whether you adopted or gave birth, whether you fell into the role of mothering or stepped up to care for children that you now see as your own.
Here are a few things that are universal and thus, what makes us mothers:
1. Your priorities change- When parenthood strikes, most mother’s experience a huge shift in priorities. Though you can hopefully maintain some semblance of a life outside of your children (if you’re very good at multitasking, I suppose), you likely still believe them to be the most important people in the universe. You would do anything for them which is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes you fantasize about going back to lazy, carefree, pre-spit-up afternoons but in reality, you wouldn’t trade them for the world.
2. You experience love in a whole new way- No matter how many times you’ve been in love, there is no love like the way you love your child. It’s torturous and cruel and beautiful all at the same time. It keeps you up at night, gives you heart palpitations and causes you to worry like you never thought possible. It dominates and demands your attention. And when you become a parent a second or third time, it doesn’t divide, it multiplies.
3. You know new levels of fear and frustration- Nothing can get your emotions jacked like your children can. Whether it’s a colicky baby screaming bloody murder, a disobedient toddler who ignores your every request or a headstrong teenager, you have likely been practicing some form of deep breathing since you became a mother.
4. You think of time differently- Whether it’s hours, minutes, or days of the week, time has a whole new meaning. Your day is divided up between lunch time, nap time, cranky time, uber-cranky time, “do not come anywhere near this house” time, bath time and (thank Jesus) bedtime. And when you’re trying to remember a specific event, you can’t quite remember the month or year but rather “that was before little Billy moved into his big boy bed!” or “that was when Chuck didn’t have teeth.” The passage of time also becomes more frighteningly rapid when you have children who go from dependent little sucklings to preschoolers to middle schoolers at lightening speed. Soon every milestone feels like you’ve got another limb in the grave.
5. You need a vacation from your vacation- Vacations are still fun, but a very specific kind of fun that demands a very necessary kind of patience. You still want to take them but just packing up the car and getting to your destination is a feat in and of itself. Vacations don’t mean you get to stay out late, snooze on the beach and take body shots anymore. Instead, they mean you’ll be cleaning sand out of a lot of little crevices and scheduling a massage promptly when you return home. A day at the beach might feel more like a day at the lumber yard but you’d never know it from the pictures.