I have been a mother now for 3 years. Before becoming a mom I was by no means unprepared. At least I thought so. I am the second to youngest of six children and I have been an aunt since I was nine years old, I have grown up with babies around since then, babysitting, changing diapers, playing with them, learning all about babies. I thought I was set.
What I did not know then is that you cannot truly be prepared for being a mother until you go through the experience. Nobody can tell you, teach you and truly prepare you for everything having a baby means. I wish it weren’t true. I wish I could truly prepare other mothers having their first baby so they’ll be set and successful right out of the gate. But all I can do is share, hope others take my insight and learn as they go. On that note….
How does motherhood change you?
You gain further love and respect for your parents.
I have always loved and respected my parents but I agree, since becoming a mother I call my mother just about every day. Motherhood is challenging and as I go through those challenges, I wonder about my mother going through those same challenges. I even have greater respect for her, she had six kids, so far I only have two.
You become more concerned about the future
I was never very political as I grew up. Even into my twenties (I became a mother at 28), I never really paid attention. Lately, especially when it comes to my daughter, how strong, and independent I want her to become, I admittedly focus on politics and the future of everyone around me more. I want both my children to have every opportunity that comes to them, as a mother I do not have the luxury of being blasé anymore.
You lack of personal time
I say it often but do not believe those around me truly understand. I rarely go see movies anymore. I rarely get to drive or go to the store alone. I rarely even get to sit on the toilet without a small toddler babbling at me or crying on the other side of the door. The majority of days by the time I get the kids to sleep I don’t want to be touched because I’ve spent the day with two babies climbing over me, kicking me, sitting on me, or tugging at my pants. Don’t get me wrong. I love baby cuddles, I love comforting my children when they need it, but I also love some space when I can get it.
You never need an alarm again
Of course this truly depends on you, your family and work schedule, but I have not set an alarm to wake up in the morning for three years. 6am, like clockwork, every morning two toddlers enter my room and wake me up, ready for the day.
You lack sleep
The lack of sleep as a mother doesn’t end, I’m really starting to understand that. We expect it with newborns, although I still believe this phase cannot be truly understood until you go through it, every two hour feedings even through the night can make you or break you. It can create frustration, exhaustion, and guilt. It does get better as your newborn takes more time between feedings, as they grow, and sleep better at night. But even if you sleep train, they grow, and generally sleep through the night you have toddlers that get sick, have nightmares, are afraid of the dark, need to go to the bathroom, need diaper changes, all in the middle of the night.
Like me, you may have a husband that generally works late. This means often, even if I am able to get my children to sleep by 8pm he prefers I stay up until 10p, 11p, or 12a to spend time with him, talk about our day, and be together. I agree this is important but when the babies wake again at 6am, even given that it’s a good night and they actually sleep, it can be exhausting.
You put your child first
There is a certain degree of selflessness you gain as a parent. At least for most parents. Your priorities change. Instead of spending money on new nails or hair you spend money on your children. You’ll buy them new clothes and toys before you buy something for yourself. You’ll buy their food before your own.
You’re working 24/7
It does not matter if you’re a stay at home mom, working mom, or working at home mom. Motherhood is 24/7. There is no breaks, vacations, time off. There is 24/7 vigilance, working, teaching, providing, cleaning, feeding, and loving.
You learn to be okay with disgusting conversations
You might find poop talk disgusting. As a mom that will probably still be true. But you’ll be surprised at the number of conversations you have about poop. It’s color, consistency, smell, how often. Why? It’s just the way it is. Babies cannot speak for themselves and a good way to tell if they’re sick, hurt, or if something else is wrong is based on their bowel movements, their diaper changes, their bodily functions. Get used to it.
Your friends change
Unless all of your friends are just following the same path you are it’s bound to be that once a baby comes your friends change. You may now have a family and they’re still in school, starting a career, and living a single life. Motherhood can make getting out hard, many friends that don’t have kids may not understand. We all have our own lives.
Your baby sets the schedule
This is a topic I hear all the time from those around that do not have kids. “I won’t let my day and schedule be completely dictated by the baby” I always have found it hilarious and a true sign about not understanding until you have that baby in your hands. Most of you, I definitely do, will stick to the babies schedule. Why? Because it means the difference between good days and bad days. It means the difference between tantrums, crying and over exhaustion to a happy, well-rested, and manageable child.
You could lose who you are
Before becoming a mother I was a business woman, a college student, an employee, I was a dancer, an artist, once I became a mother for the longest time I saw nothing of who I was other than a mother. I became this small human beings way of living. They depended completely on me. Also, I felt like I became invisible. The baby became the center of attention and I admittedly was jealous of my own daughter. It can happen when you see friends, family, or acquaintances and their first question is always “How’s the baby?” They want to see, play, and hold her. What made me realize the new me? This blog, finding a creative outlet, something of my own.