When I was pregnant I spent hours daydreaming about what my life as a mother would look like. As a first-time mom, I saw the world through rose-colored lenses. I imagined myself being well-rested and put together, suckling a sleepy infant with my perfectly styled hair and outfit. My house will be clean and orderly, dinner on the table promptly at 5 o’clock. I listen doubtfully when friends described the chaos that was life with a newborn. Surely I would be able to manage better than they had…
Life as a mother is very different from what I had imagined. Is it wonderful? Absolutely. There is, in my opinion, no better feeling on Earth. Is it orderly or structured? Hell. No. And so, to celebrate motherhood and all that it is, today I am sharing the top 10 ways that motherhood has changed me.
1. My house is a mess.
Those who know me know that I love a clean house. I am borderline obsessive compulsive (a doctor’s words, not mine), and like to have everything put in its place. Dog hair covered floors and a sink filled with dishes drive me nuts. There is a weekly cleaning schedule posted on my fridge, and before A’s arrival I followed it religiously (even while on bed rest).
When A arrived I desperately tried keeping my house clean as I was used to. I rushed around like a mad woman while he napped, feeling the need to be a perfect mom and housewife. Mopping and vacuuming took precedent over eating and sleeping. Three weeks into motherhood I was mentally and physically exhausted, stopped producing milk because I wasn’t taking care of myself, and broke down crying to my husband.
I now realize that part of being a good mom is taking a little bit of time to recharge my batteries. When A naps I take some time to grab a bite or lay down. When he’s awake we snuggle and play. My floors and counters are far from spotless, and that’s okay. There will be plenty of time to clean the house when he’s older.
2. I’m more efficient.
I might not have time to clean my house, but I can get myself and A ready in under an hour (30 minutes on a good day). I am the queen of packing a diaper bag, and can apply mascara with one arm holding a baby in the other. I’m proud to say that we have never been late to a pediatrician appointment as a result.
3. All the feels…
I was shocked at how emotional I was during pregnancy. What was even more surprising was that those emotions did not fade with my pregnancy hormones. Every emotion I feel is as sharp as a knife. Happiness, sadness, worry… The intensity is insane. TV commercials really get to me, especially Johnson & Johnson ads. And don’t even get me started on milestones. First leave me feeling both overjoyed (look how smart and wonderful my baby is!) and wistful (why is he growing so fast?!). I worry about the future and the kind of world A is growing up in. I think about his first day of pre-K and the day he tells me not to kiss him goodbye. I cry when I think of him graduating college and getting married someday.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t suffer from PPD or depression of any kind. I just feel things more strongly these days.
4. Things are a lot more… stretchy.
I didn’t gain a lot of weight during my pregnancy. I was up 30 pounds the day I delivered, several of which were water. People always remark on how tiny my bump was. Was I sure that I was 9 months pregnant?
My pregnancy weight came off relatively quickly. I lost 16 pounds the first two days, and was back to my pre-pregnancy size by the end of the second month. Today I weigh less than I did in high school. That being said, my weight is the only thing that went back to normal relatively quickly. Although my belly is flat I have a lot of loose, stretchy skin. I have stretch marks in new places, and everything sags a little lower than it did before baby.
You know what the best part is? I don’t care. Before motherhood I was self-conscious about my body. Today I celebrate my body and all that it is capable of. I grew and gave birth to a human. That’s a pretty big accomplishment.
5. I worry. A lot.
All mothers worry about their children, it’s an undeniable truth of motherhood. The extent to which I worry is a little… extreme.
A had urgent stomach surgery at 5 weeks old. Since then we have dealt with acid reflux, cow’s milk protein allergy, and an intestinal blockage. We have spent countless hours at the pediatrician’s office, GI doctor, and Children’s Hospital. Despite all of these challenges, A is an incredibly happy baby. He has also steadily climbed the growth chart, something many babies with his history fail to do. Although A’s reflux and CMPA are well managed, and he is currently healthy and thriving, I find myself paranoid about his health. Every sniffle scares me, and I have the pediatrician’s number on speed dial. I worry when A does something that falls outside of the “average” range, despite knowing that all babies are unique and individual. I’m obsessed with tracking and making sure that he is eating and sleeping enough. I find it impossible to relax, and will never forget the feeling of helplessly handing my baby over to a surgical team.
6. I’m no longer obsessed with my job.
I love my job as a teacher; shaping the minds of children is extremely rewarding. I worried about my maternity leave all through my pregnancy. Would my students be OK without me? Would the substitute follow all of my plans? I spent a ridiculous amount of time in my classroom, arriving an hour early and staying late every day.
Motherhood has helped me to find balance between my personal and professional life. Although I still worry about my classroom, it’s not nearly to the same extent. I no longer go to work early or stay late, and I do my best not to take any work home with me. I now realize that it’s OK if I don’t get assignments graded on the same day they were given. Evenings are for family time.
7. I’m more patient (in some ways).
I no longer get irritated with crying toddlers and harassed mothers in the grocery store. I’ve experienced firsthand the stares of strangers as my child screams bloody-murder in the freezer aisle. I also don’t worry about being stuck in traffic. Slower drivers result in less opportunity for carelessness. I’m carrying precious cargo, after all.
8. And a lot less selfish.
A comes first. Enough Said.
9. I know the capacity of the human heart.
Before motherhood there was a whole lot of love in my life. I had a wonderful husband, doting parents, and two canine companions. The amount of love in my life as a mom is infinitely more. Before A’s arrival I wondered at how I could possibly have more love in my life. How would my heart make room? I didn’t have to make room for A; my heart swelled and grew the moment he was placed on my chest. That first touch changed everything. There is no limit to a mother’s love; it is endless.
10. My husband is more attractive.
Becoming a father didn’t physically change my husband the way it did me, but he has become infinitely more attractive in my mind. Watching the way he cares for our son has enabled me to see a whole new side of him, and I really like what I see. I love how hands-on he is as a parent; the way he wields a bottle and changes diapers, the way he wears spit up like it’s a badge of honor. He is tender and nurturing, both things that I love about him.
There you have it, 10 ways motherhood has changed me. It’s not all glorious, but it is the single best journey of my life.
How has motherhood changed you? I’d love to chat about it in the comments below.