I am the mother of two precious little boys, and their little fingers reshape my world on a daily basis. However, I don’t think of myself as a mother first; I still just look at myself as me… That ‘me’ has just changed a lot over the past few years.
Time is not what it used to be. Before I had children time was something I often felt the need to waste, it often dragged, and it served as a basic structure for the schedule of my life. Now, time is something I never have enough of (especially time spent sleeping, haha) and the clock is something I rarely use to guide my day – it’s all about when my children need me to do what. Time is also now far too fleeting, as I am reminded of on a daily basis by the ever-growing intelligence of my toddler. Just where did that tiny baby go??? Even my preemie newborn is growing too fast for comfort, now having reached his due date even taller than my older son was at birth. And every moment with them is a treasure. I swear if anybody ever does invent a pause button for time, I would trade everything I own to have one so that I could soak up and cherish every detail of my children’s lives. But alas, I am doomed to watch as they zoom towards those dreaded teenage years at full steam, all the while praying I won’t blink and miss something.
Once upon a time I would go shopping, not looking for anything in particular, and buy a few things just because I liked them. Other money, I would save for a rainy day. And sure I had expenses, but most of them were based on wants, not needs. Since I became a mother, I shop only when I have to, coupons in one hand, and my very specific grocery list in the other. I long for the day when saving money will be possible again – it kind of negates the purpose of putting it back when a few weeks later you have to pull it right back out for a visit to the doctor for the latest illness your child has caught or for car repairs because you only have one used car to service your family (which by the way is the case because you spend all your money on diapers, groceries, insurance, and the mortgage on the house that never seems quite big enough to hold your growing family).
We were one of the first couples in our group of friends to have a baby. Needless to say many of them were offended when we suddenly stopped calling. It was hard for them to understand why we were avoiding them. Of course, from our perspective it was all we could do just to keep our eyes propped open to drive to work every morning, let alone the fact that we spent our evenings cat napping between diaper changes and feedings. Of course as one by one these couples started having kids of their own, they returned the favor. Thankfully, we realized that as all of our kids get older, we can now get together again on occasion because the children can entertain themselves while we get a chance to catch up on what’s been going on in each others’ lives (most of which usually involves the kids). Granted we have to intervene in their play every 5-10 minutes to reinforce the rules of sharing, but that just becomes second nature after a while, almost subconscious… like breathing. Just make sure the get-together is over by little man’s bedtime, of course.
Dinner and a movie, talking for hours, long walks in the middle of nowhere, taking a drive in the middle of the night, a spontaneous weekend trip somewhere special… things my husband and I once did for fun. Nowadays dinner and a movie for us is pizza delivery (if we’re lucky) and going to bed listening to a movie we’ve seen a few dozen times. Those long walks have turned into chasing our toddler around the living room. The middle of the night is that rare quiet time when we can sneak in a few hours of sleep (which is delightful fun, ask any parent). And if everybody behaves, we can take a trip to the zoo! I’m sure none of that sounds all that spectacular at first glance, but when you add in all the smiles and laughter we get to see and hear, no question we come out on top.
No, he really doesn’t care that I now have stretch marks, a permanent pooch to my belly, or that gravity is winning the battle to slowly turn my curves into deflating balloons (granted it has taken me several years to realize all those things bother me a whole lot more than they do him). And yes, I honestly do think it’s funny when he occasionally pops a button across the room because his clothes are fitting much more snugly these days. Parenthood is definitely not easy on the physical form of either parent (the stress and busyness of life quickly catch up with most dads), but like most ‘old married couples’ we really find ourselves caring less and less about what the other one looks like. It is much more important to us to have each other’s love and support, both in practical ways (like me washing his work clothes and packing his lunch) and emotional ways (like him listening to me cry for the 15th time this month about how my boys are growing up too fast). I no longer am charmed by flowery words and pretty gifts (not that I would mind them getting them by any means), but rather, my heart melts when he does something with my toddler that sets them both off laughing or lays his head against our infant’s just to be near to him. I cannot even begin to describe how much stronger this type of love is compared to the head-over-heels passion I felt when we were dating. Our marriage is nowhere near perfect, but when you’ve been through as much as we have in this process of becoming parents, you find you can deal with all that imperfection just to be with the one person who really and truly understands where you’re coming from.