When I found out a year ago that I was pregnant, I vowed not to be one of those women who completely changes when she has a baby. I had seen so many of my friends become so different from their previous selves, and I didn’t want that for me.
But now I can safely say that I was naïve to think that something so life altering wouldn’t be so … altering. While I do think it is important to maintain the parts of you that make you, you, I was wrong to think this change I had seen so many times before was such a bad thing.
Here is how I’ve changed, and I promise *some* of these things are for the better … even if they don’t sound like it!
I’m A Mess
In my pre-child days, I understood *in theory* that having kids would make me busy, but in the deep recesses of my mind I just figured that my friends were exaggerating a little, using their kids as an excuse when they were flaky. I am an organized person by nature. I am a planner. Now, even with all my best intentions, oftentimes I am a frazzled, hot mess. I wander into my kitchen several times a day without remembering what I came there for. I start tasks that don’t get finished. I forget appointments or confuse times. There is beauty though, in the chaos. I had never experienced what it was like to be solely responsible for another person’s every need. My son won’t always need me this way. I am choosing (or trying) to embrace the crazy. It’s not always a bad thing to learn to let go.
I Am Humbled
I planned and hoped that I would bounce back quickly after pregnancy. I have always been thin, I eat healthy, and I had a relatively fit pregnancy. I have now accepted that my body is no longer fully my own. I gave up complete ownership as soon as I got pregnant, and I still don’t have it fully back. It is not the same as it was, and it may never be. My hair is falling out, my hormones are out of whack, and even though I’ve lost almost all of my baby weight, it feels like everything has been rearranged and settled elsewhere. My abs were literally severed in two. They might not ever come back.
As much as I have been humbled by what my body no longer is, I am even more humbled by what it has done and continues to do. I have grown a person (from scratch!), birthed a person, and continued to sustain a person. This is not nothing; it’s actually pretty incredible.
I Am Tired
I always envisioned parenthood as feeling a bit like pulling an all-nighter in college. I guess in some ways it is, except it is every day and there is no fun theme party at the end of it to look forward to. I have never been so exhausted in all my life. My baby is even a good sleeper, but by the end of each day, I cannot wait to crash in my bed. And crash is the best way to describe falling asleep right now; the crush from the sheer effort of keeping another person alive all day. I fall asleep watching TV. I fall asleep reading books. I am scared to take a bath at night because I am pretty sure I would fall asleep in the tub and possibly drown. However, when you begin to sleep less, you get more hours in each day. I have seen more sunrises in the last few months than I probably had in all my previous years combined. When you no longer have time to waste, you accomplish so much more.
I Am Soft
And I don’t just mean my abs (see above). I won’t say having a baby has made me a better person. I know plenty of people who were jerks before having kids and are still jerks after. Some of the best and most giving people I know don’t have kids whether by choice or circumstance. But in my case, I will say that having a baby has changed me into a more empathetic, softer person. My heart breaks for people in a way it hasn’t before. I feel the pain of other parents all over the world: natural disasters, the refugee crisis … I feel like I cry at everything now (see hormones also above). I worry about the state of the world. I want to do my part to make it a better place for my son.
Parenting definitely has gotten me out of my own head and that is a pretty great thing.
As Socrates once wrote, “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but building the new.”
Change is a good thing. I am thankful to not be the same person I was a year ago even when I find myself clinging to my old life. Change also is hard and sometimes painful. I can look to my 4-month-old and see that. It can very literally bring you to tears. However, out of that pain comes growth, and out of that growth, so much amazing.