“I’m not going to change when I became a mom.”
“I don’t want motherhood to alter who I am as a person.”
“Yeah, I’m going to have a baby, but I don’t want to be, like, a mom.”
Chances are, before you became a mother, you may have uttered one of these statements, or at least something similar. I know I did. I was sure I knew how I would navigate the changes motherhood would bring.
I knew mothers both in real life and on the Internet. I watched as friends, acquaintances, relatives, and even my favorite food bloggers became parents over the years.
I had a mental checklist of who I thought did it “right”—so far as I could tell—and whose methods I didn’t care for. I knew becoming a mother would change me in some ways, but I wasn’t fully prepared for the total demolition and ground-up style of rebuilding that happens when you become a mother.
I haven’t totally lost myself to motherhood, nor am I am a completely different person than who I was before I became a mom. Sure, in some ways, I am a very different person. But, in most ways, I’m the same version of myself—just enhanced if you will. Furthermore, if I had to compare my past and former selves, I would say I love the mom version of myself much more. Here’s why.
I was tough before I became a mom—hard-working and determined—but nothing strengthened me the way motherhood has. There’s a reason the phrase “tough as a mother” exists. Moms are STRONG.
The physical sacrifices and traumas women endure during pregnancy and childbirth are merely the beginning. While the physical difficulties of motherhood are difficult to appreciate until you become one, so too are the emotional ones. It’s hard to appreciate how much your heart can strain and ache as it bends to the demands of motherhood.
Beyond that, there’s not much time for rest as a mom, a lesson you learn during your first few hours as one when you’re exhausted from labor or a c-section (or both!) and suddenly it’s time to learn how to take care of another human being. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how much your body aches, or how daunting it all seems. You’re the mom, and it’s time to work.
I’m less selfish.
I’ve always been a little selfish both with my possessions and my time. That’s not unusual. Most of us are before we become parents. I don’t say this to sound like I’m morally superior because I’m a mom. Believe me, if I could have my motherhood with a hefty side of sleeping in on Saturdays and endless spa days, I would.
However, like many in the trenches of early motherhood, I just don’t have the time for that sort of leisure. I still take care of myself in little and big ways—I try to exercise most days, stay hydrated, and eat well, and I also try to make it to the spa at least once every month or two. But, long gone are the days where every second of every day was spent thinking of myself—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I’m more compassionate.
Along with the loss of selfishness comes the acquisition of greater compassion for others. It really is true that when you become a mother, you see the world differently. Every hurt and every injustice take on new meaning.
However, it’s not just the big things that hit us differently; it’s the small ones too. Suddenly you may have a better understanding of why an acquaintance ran late for lunch, or how stressed your coworker must have been when she had to leave the office to pick up a sick child from daycare.
I wasn’t always as forgiving of what I perceived to be other people’s faults, but motherhood changed that for me, albeit gradually.
I’m less rigid.
Finally, motherhood has made me less rigid. Before I became a mom, I was super strict about my life and schedule and rarely yielded. For example, I went to the same spin class every Saturday and Sunday morning for years and rarely let anything interfere—even if it meant turning down social plans.
I always needed a certain element of control to feel comfortable. Becoming a mother eliminated many, many things from my control—including my schedule. Sure, some people would have reacted to that by digging in their heels and leaning even further into strict scheduling, but, for me, this loss of control made me less rigid, and more willing to roll with the punches.
Certainly, there are other ways motherhood has changed me, but these four stand out. Because of these things, I am happier—and those who have to put up with me are happier as well.