Becoming a parent is a life changing event. Many parents do not even realize how much their life is going to change until that little bundle of joy comes into your life. I know that I didn’t. I am not sure what I expected when I found out that I was pregnant. I suppose I envisioned cute little baby booties, reading books under a warm blanket while the snow fell down outside, and standing up and cheering at baseball games. All of those things did happen and I enjoyed every moment of it, but there is so much more to parenting.
There are the obvious things that change such as not being able to go out at all hours of the night every weekend and your income suddenly seeming like a lot less. Those things will happen, but what about the little things that no one ever tells you about? Here are 5 ways my life changed after I became a parent that I never even thought about.
I started driving slower. I was never a crazy driver or a super speeder, but as soon as I had that infant car seat carrier in the back of my car I suddenly started paying a lot of attention to speed limits. I took corners at a snail’s pace and made full and complete stops at stop signs. My senses seemed to be heightened whenever I was behind the wheel. I was constantly thinking about my child’s safety and was on the lookout for crazy drivers. I finally realized what my dad had meant when he told me that the best driver was a defensive driver.
I began to watch my mouth in the car. Now, I am not saying that I have an entirely clean vocabulary as anyone who knows me would call me out on that one. I still say naughty words, but I really watch myself in the car now. I used to shout out expletives at other cars, raise my middle finger, and lay on the horn for just about any minor infraction of the rules of the road. I still get upset when some jerk cuts me off or runs a red light, but now I am much less vocal about it. The first time my oldest copied something I had said in the car, I realized just how filthy my mouth was when I was driving. Now when someone cuts me off I call them a “big truck” instead of something that rhymes with truck.
I started researching medicines. I had never been the type to research anything that wasn’t assigned to me by a teacher or professor. When they gave my oldest daughter her first vaccines in the hospital I started to wonder what was in them and why we had given them to her. I never before had questioned the medications given to me or my younger siblings, but as soon as the first needle pricked my darling newborn’s leg, I had to know. I now research medicines, vaccinations, and everything else that go into my children’s bodies.
I could no longer just leave the house. Leaving the house required a lot more effort than just throwing on jacket and pair of shoes. Now it requires multiple pairs of shoes, fights over which socks to wear, and the occasional fight over whether or not to wear a hat. It requires a small bag filled with the essentials of parenting and necessities for the possible accident. It takes four times as long to leave the house and that is with a well laid out plan. The days of grabbing the keys and light jacket are over, even when I get the rare opportunity to leave the house by myself.
I began to understand and appreciate my own mother more. You never really understand what a mother goes through until you have been there. I understand why she still tears up a little when talking about my little brother’s surgery when he was 9 months old. I appreciate the times that she took me to get a soda after I had my blood drawn at the doctor’s office. I realize that the fights we had were not all her fault like I had told my teenage mind. A new form of respect for your parents surfaces when you start going through the tough parts of parenting .
All these changes in life have not jaded me at all. Although it can be fun to make sarcastic comments about not having time to yourself to use the bathroom and it can be frustrating to find a leaky sippy cup in the bottom of your purse, parenting is one of the biggest joys in life. I would not trade it for anything in this world. My life is more complete and I am a better person because of my children.