6 Ways Motherhood Has Changed Me
Before I had Max, I was absolutely determined that motherhood wouldn’t change me: even though I knew it almost definitely would.
(Other things I thought before I had Max: that he would play happily on the floor beside me while I worked; that I would go out running every day with him in his pram; that, not long after he was born, I’d hand him over to Terry, before carefully applying a full face of makeup… yeah, I thought a LOT of things, basically.)
Well, this just in, folks: it turns out that motherhood DID change me, after all. I know, breaking news, right? Here are some of the biggest changes I’ve noticed…
I cry more easily
I mean, I’ve always been a bit of a crier, to be perfectly honest, but, after Max was born, it’s almost like it became my hobby or something. At first, I thought this was purely a hormonal thing, which would pass once he was out of the newborn stage, but then, earlier this week I saw an elderly couple walking along hand and hand, and I honestly thought it might break me. So, yeah, maybe NOT totally hormonal, then. GOD.
It sounds really stupid and obvious to say it out loud, but I think the big revelation for me here was the sudden understanding that everyone is someone’s baby, and that the way I feel about Max is the same way other people feel about their babies – even when they’re all grown up. People are just so precious, aren’t they? Every one of them. And so, these days I find I can barely stand to read the news, or listen to sad stories – especially the ones concerning children – because it’s all just too much to bear. Isn’t it, though?
I’m more patient
Patience has never been my strong point: like, in my pre-Max life I wouldn’t even have made it to the end of this sentence without thinking, “FFS, why is this not done yet?!” Parenthood, however, is a crash course in patience: whether you’re answering the same question for the 100th time that day (At least 20x per day, Max and I have a conversation that basically just goes, “Mummy?” “Yes, Max?” “Mummy?” “Yes?” “Mummy?” “What is it, Max?” “Mummy?” and so on and so forth…), or realising that you’re never going to be able to leave the house in less than 30 minutes ever again , you just have to kind of grit your teeth and get on with it – even when that’s not something you could ever have imagined yourself doing.
In my case, the patience I’ve learned with Max has also started to spill over into other areas of my life: like last summer, for instance, when we landed in Florida, and then spent a full hour waiting in line for our hire car, even though we were the only people actually IN the line. At any other time, I’d have been climbing the walls with frustration by the time we were finally done: and honestly, I’m STILL not totally sure why I wasn’t. Either it’s all of that patience I’ve been practising, or I’m just dead inside now: you decide…
I’m much lower maintenance
I used to need AT LEAST an hour’s notice before I could reasonably be expected to leave the house, and would happily spend hours planning outfits for even the most ordinary of outings. These days I can be ready in 20 minutes – 10 at a push – and while I’m not going to claim that I no longer care what I look like, I AM much less self-conscious, which can only be a good thing.
The upside of this low-maintenance way of life is that it allows me to be more spontaneous (Well, as spontaneous as it gets when you have a toddler, anyway…): the downside, meanwhile, is that my newfound spontaneity is mostly down to the lowering of standards that’s come with the first few years of parenthood – well, something has to give, doesn’t it?
I’m a little bit more sociable
As a lifelong introvert , I’ve always been pretty happy to just hang out at home alone all the time … then Max came along, and now if I don’t get to leave my house at least once a day, I feel like I’m going to die, basically.
I’d always assumed that, when we had a baby, we’d see a lot less of our friends and family for a while, because it would just be too difficult to arrange meetups with a small person to work around, but actually, the opposite has turned out to be true: sure, it’s not always easy to arrange things these days, but we’re both so desperate to get out of the house, and have conversations that don’t involve at least one of us assuming the character of a stuffed toy, that we manage to make it work.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m never going to be an extrovert, but being stuck at home with a toddler all winter has definitely made it a little easier for me to understand them… sort of.
But a much worse conversationalist
Having said that, I might be enjoying spending more time with other people, but I’m not sure they’d say the same about me, given that my main topics of conversation right now all revolve around potty training and how much laundry a very small person generates. (Clue: it’s A LOT.) Pretty sure people liked me better when I was anti-social AF, to be honest…
I put less pressure on myself
Before Max came along, I used to put so much pressure on myself to do ALL THE THINGS: sometimes all at the same time. So I’d feel horribly guilty, and like I was letting the side down if I didn’t manage to run five miles a day, keep the house spotless at all times, AND publish a new blog post every single day: which meant I got to spend a LOT of time feeling like an abject failure, basically.
These days, not only do I not do any of those things, I don’t even feel guilty about not doing them: because I finally realised that I am not superwoman, and I can’t possibly do it all. It’s not that I don’t WANT to do them, I hasten to add: it’s just that, right now, I’ve had to accept that there aren’t enough hours in the day for all of the things I’d like to be able to accomplish – and it’s OK to admit that, and cut myself some slack. I mean, you could say I’ve lowered my standards – and you would not be wrong – but I prefer to think of it as being kind to myself, and recognising that it’s not going to be like this forever: or, at least, I HOPE not…