Someone in one of my mom groups recently posted a question that was thought-provoking: “How would you describe yourself before and after having kids?” This really hit me, as it is something I haven’t fully articulated before. Truly, what changes about one’s self after having kids? The changes are simultaneously so many and so few, some big changes and others that accumulate in small fractions over such a long period of time that you don’t even realize the changes until you’re in front of the mirror.
I was ambitious. I focused on my goals, and knew exactly what to do to get there.
I was mentally sharp. My vernacular was impressive. I could mentally spar with the best of them, thinking steps ahead.
I was a traveller. I wandered near and far, and still have the passport stamps to prove it.
I was organized. Cluttered, yes, but everything had a place and I knew where it was.
I was a completer. I got the job done, reliably, and to high standards, all the time.
I am tired. I am tired in my bones. I have a sleep deficit so deep, it makes our national deficit look like chump change.
I am anxious. I stress out over messes, potential injuries, whether or not I am feeding you food laced with pesticides or heavy metals, your sleep schedule….just, everything.
I am impatient. Patience was never my virtue, as I often say, but I have even less of it to go around now.
I feel like I live my life half-finished. I drank half a glass of water. Then, there was a crashing sound coming from the room next door and I rushed over to make sure everyone was ok.
I put away half of the laundry baskets. Then, I got distracted with loading the dishwasher.
I ate half of my dinner. I was busy plating and cutting up the food you usually refuse to eat and/or throw on the floor.
I cleaned half of the toy room. Mostly because a screaming child drew my attention in a different direction.
Even as I sit here to write my post, I get up to get a glass of water. I trip on a toy and put that away. I see a sock mixed in with the toys and return that to my daughter’s room. Then, I go downstairs and remember I need to order groceries. I wonder what I will wear to an event I am going to tomorrow – do I even have a dress that fits my mom bod? This leads to my purging my closet of clothes of a bygone era, that don’t fit or aren’t flattering. I bring my clothes donation bags out to the garage, only to find boxes that need to be broken down for recycling. The domino of events that string together to fill my life leave many tasks half-completed.
The Good Stuff
The lives of moms are not all bad, though.
I am filled with love. I never knew how much I could love a person, as much as I love my children. My external organs. My hearts outside my body.
I laugh a lot. My kids are so silly, creative, and cute, that I have to laugh. A deep, pure laughter of joy that is echoed by the laughter of my children. They laugh so easily and freely, it warms my heart.
I learn a lot about myself. Having yourself physically, verbally, and emotionally mirrored back in the form of two toddlers is eye-opening. Mannerisms, habits, and phrases I never knew I had reflect right back at me. It provides a level of introspection I was never able to achieve without an (brutally) honest critic, and helps me grow as a person.
I am more flexible. This is more of an adapted survival trait for a Type-A planner like me, but I am (slightly) more go with the flow than I ever was before. We have our routines but I know something will go off course at some point – and that’s when the memories happen.
I understand my parents. There were so many times when, as a teenager, I huffed out of an argument with one of my parents, screaming, “I will N E V E R do that to *my* kids!” But you know what? I understand why they did what they did. And you better believe I DO do that with my kids, too!
I am building the future. My children, and others of their generation, are our future. I am helping to cultivate kind, smart, honest, and dedicated human beings to lead us in our future.
Despite all the ways my life has changed after having kids, I can say I would do it again in a heartbeat.