I always knew I wanted to be a mother. It wasn’t my sole goal in life, but it was the most important. While there were a lot of things I thought I’d be throughout my life, I knew that if I didn’t become a mother, I’d always regret it. When I met my husband, we both found that we shared the goal of becoming parents. And now that we have three boys and a brand new baby girl, I can say that my life has never been more challenging, yet never more rewarding than it is right now. I have grown in so many ways over the eight years I’ve been a mother. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but my kids have taught me so much about life and who I am as a person. And while there are some aspects of parenting I’ll be glad to leave behind, like potty training, whining, and sibling fighting, I know that overall this journey will pass by all-too-quickly, but I’ll be the better for it, having changed in so many ways. I know the journey isn’t nearly over, but below are the top 5 ways I’ve changed so far in the journey.
My Fashion Choices Are Limited
Before becoming a mother, I was more experimental in my fashion choices and more willing to follow the trends. But when the fashion magazines tout tiny purses and high heels, I just can’t go along anymore. I’m far from the woe-is-me sweatpants kind of mom, preferring skinny jeans to mom jeans, but my kids are a prime consideration when I get dressed in the morning and accessorize. All of my shoes are flats, from ballet flats to sneakers, because running after a toddler in heels is a sure-fire way to get a trip to the ER. All of my bags must meet the criteria of being able to house my changing pad, a few diapers, wipes, band-aids, snacks, a juice cup, wallet, keys, cell phone, and a lip gloss. Therefore, I no longer carry what most would label purses, but tote “bags” instead. Most of my shirts have a little give in them, since my midsection has a little sag after carrying four children. And I now spend double on my undergarments, because every mother could use a little extra support.
I’ve Been Forced To Become a Morning Person
From the time I can remember, I have been a night person. Even though my parents sent strict bedtimes, I’d be up in my bed with toys or a flashlight and a book for hours after curfew, not because I was being obstinate, but because I simply couldn’t fall asleep. In college, I scheduled all of my classes after 10am, using the late night to early morning hours to get my best work done. And even now, my most productive hours occur after the kids are in bed. But my kids, sadly, did not get the memo that their mom would rather work at night and then sleep in. Instead, they wake between 6 and 6:30 every morning. Our alarm clock now collects dust, since there’s no need to ever set it. So now, even though I still get my best work done after hours, I also have to get out of bed in the early morning hours to get children fed, dressed, and out the door to school. Instead of sleeping in, I’m making coffee and packing lunches; I need to be awake whether I like it or not, so I choose to like it for their sake.
I’m No Longer My First Priority
While I’m no advocate for being a mommy martyr, believing that all moms are better after practicing some amount of self-care, in my day-to-day life, my kids come first. Now, instead of making sure I’ve been able to shower, dress, and eat, I take care of my kids’ needs first. I shower at night to save time, drink my coffee in a travel mug on the way to school drop-off, and have shaved my daily morning beauty routine down to five minutes. As long as the kids have balanced meals, clean clothes, homework done, baths done and teeth brushed, I know I’ve done my job. Even though the consequence is less time for me, it’s worth it.
I’ve Learned To Stand Up to Others and Set Boundaries
I’ve always been a people-pleaser, preferring to dodge confrontation whenever possible, simply because it makes me uncomfortable. I’m not a doormat, but I also don’t stir the pot with others. But being a mom has changed that aspect of my personality. I was always content to let many things slide when it came to people offending me, but wrong my child, and a primal, mother bear-like instinct awakens in me, ready for a fight. After living life with four children, I’m much more apt to speak my mind and stand up for what’s right, even when it’s uncomfortable. I want my kids to know that there’s no shame in being a strong voice for something they believe in, and the best way I can do that is to model the behavior for them. I also know that they’re still small, so in most cases, I’m their voice. And as their mother, it’s my duty to give them all of the respect they deserve by speaking out for them when they need it and protecting them as well.
I’ve Deepened My Understanding of Love
Falling in love with my husband was an amazing experience, and when we got married, I knew he was the one person I wanted to be with forever and would do anything for. But when our first son was born, I understood love on a whole new level. Here was this little person who grew inside my body and was born completely dependant on me; the intensity of emotion for this little person was indescribable, and I finally understood what it meant to know that you would literally die in a heartbeat for another human being. I wanted to protect him and nurture him, and the depth of my love for him was so great that it hurt. When I got pregnant with my second son, I struggled with fears and doubts that I could never possibly love this next baby the way I loved my first. How could I muster the same intensity of emotion twice? It seemed impossible, but sure enough, as soon as our second son came into the world, my heart grew and I loved him just as much as my first. Now, with four children, they all hold a special place in my heart, and I love them all the same, which is unconditionally. I’ve also learned to love them for who they are, as unique individuals, and not how I may want them to be. They are all unique and special, and loving those unique aspects has also broadened my capacity to see past other people’s flaws and love and accept them for who they are as well. This alone may very well be the greatest gift I have received since becoming a mother. My children have made me a better person, and I in turn can use that to better the world around me. The process may not always be easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for all of the high heels and late mornings in the world.