When my husband (then fiancé) and I first shared with the world that we were expecting a bundle of joy, a slew of people—moms, dads, family, friends, and even some strangers – shared with us the amazing outcome of becoming parents. We were also overwhelmed with the “do’s”, “don’ts”, “what if’s” that everyone seemed to share along the way. Instead of taking it all to heart, we as new parents, knew we had to overlook some of it in order to stay sane. Man, I am glad we did that because if I over-analyzed the color of my daughter’s poop one more time, I would have gone insane.
I did take one piece of advice to heart, and it’s something that I think every mom (and dad) should take into account when becoming parents. BE READY FOR A TOTAL BODY CHANGE! I was a graduate student, in Human Development and Family Studies at the time, I had researched and researched the possible ways that your amygdala, oxytocin, and hormones develop and change throughout pregnancy and even more after baby arrives, but I’m not referring to the pregnancy brain that never seems to go away and leaves you with shampoo in your hair after a shower or the way you seem to lactate every time a baby cries… whether it’s your own or not. I’m also not alluding to the baby weight that you’re going to attempt to shed by power pumping. TOTAL BODY experience that changes you physically and mentally—for the better. I recently read a couple of articles from Parenting.com, The Huffington Post, and Baby Center that did a great job of listing these possible experience, I found myself identifying with five main mommy changes.
You learn true R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
I would like to think that I have always been a pretty respectful kid, teen, and young adult. I used “please” and “thank you” regularly and opened doors for the elderly. But, the PURE respect that you learn from motherhood is beyond words or random acts of kindness; and the people you learn to respect grows. I learned to, first and foremost, respect my significant other. He was working two jobs, going to school, and still managing to feed our daughter while I pumped at 3 am, 5 am, and 7 am. He didn’t judge me when I had poop (which I thought was yesterday’s chocolate lunch) on my shirt. He truly became my best friend and partner-in-crime. I learned to respect my parents—I was finally living what they went through 24 years ago—how did they do it? I learned to respect the mothers and fathers in the department stores that just allowed their kids to finish their tantrums because, let’s be honest, it’s just better to let them get it out so you can save some hair. Most importantly, I learned to respect MYSELF! I gained an inner confidence that allowed me to wear sweats to Target that may have showed off my lasting baby bump. I no longer envied the tight shirts that I once longed to wear, only after I shed 10 pounds.
Creating a BIG PICTURE plan now become a necessity
401k, 529 plans, baby wellness plans…OH MY! These were things I had heard about and knew one day I would have to learn about, but wow do the decisions get more complex the older your children get and the more you have. My priorities changed to buying that new Coach purse to saving for a college fund and making sure that my daughter had eighty pairs of shoes. You learn to go without so they have everything (and much, much more)!
SLEEP… SCHEDULE… What’s that?!
Sleeping in until noon was not unheard of for me, I loved taking afternoon naps, and I could usually grab my purse (full of life’s necessities) and go within 20 minutes of a call to go out. Becoming a mom taught me that sleeping more than 4 hours a night is a full night’s sleep, naps are for babies- or at least after you get that last load of laundry in, and getting out of the house in 20 minutes means you probably forgot the diapers, wipes, or batteries for your breast pump. You will need ten times the amount of time you think it will take to get out of the house… so wake up at 2 am and you might get out of the house by 10 pm. Hey, at least I didn’t have to invest in a fancy alarm clock, my daughter made that her main duty!
You become a SELFLESS person
I never knew that a bathroom could become such a public place. My daughter has taught me, as she learned to crawl and walk, that you don’t need privacy to do your business—it’s a public event where questions need to be asked and her favorite penguin book needs to be read for the 17401740th time. It teaches you to make it a snappy occurrence. In all seriousness though, the selflessness that you experience when you become a mother shows when you take a look in the mirror, but instead of looking at your smeared eyeliner, you well up in tears because your baby has a new tooth to show or has learned to brush her teeth. You share your new Naked Palette with them because they love to “do pretties” like mommy. You make sure they have those eighty pairs of shoes during winter in case the others get wet. In essence, your understanding of happiness is their happiness!
FEAR is real!
Fear was not a word that I recognized often growing up. I always attempted to be fearless—to ride the highest roller coaster, to participate in Polar Plunge, or to show the guys that I could run as fast as they could. Becoming a mom totally changed the face of fear and it became a daily reality. Fear was my drive to make tomorrow a better place for my daughter because you never know what new disease they would discover in children, so you needed to stay up-to-date on vaccines and research regarding safekeeping. Before I was a mom, I didn’t know the fear of only have $100 in your checking account could mean. I was oblivious to fear. I learned quickly that I had to face these realities, and fear itself, in order to make the world a better place for my child (and future children). I needed to “stop and smell the roses” to gain an understanding and grasp on the world.
Overall, I came to the conclusion that you just can’t turn “mom” off. It’s not like the “light switch effect” of a job or volunteer role. You wake up with your kids on your mind and you fall asleep (or attempt to) worrying that you completely screwed up their lives when you didn’t give them enough veggies at dinner or lost your temper when they peed on the floor again. Just know, if you have these fears at the end of the day, you are doing your best and you have the heart for the job!