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Monday, May 28, 2012

changed by the motherload

Recently somebody asked how motherhood has changed me. Wow. What a loaded question. 

How has it not changed me, was my first thought. Every part of my life has been altered because I'm a mother. I think a huge part of my life is now defined by my new role as mom. Everything I do is affected by my job as a mother, so definitely I have been changed by it for sure. I think all of us go through a transformation when we are pregnant, and then another one when we are new moms, and then perhaps we keep transforming - like caterpillars and butterflies - we just keep becoming something greater than we were before, or at least we hope that's how it goes. 

Motherhood has definitely changed me - all for the better, except the exhaustion, that's not better but it is what it is. 

Let me count the ways... that I've definitely been changed by the motherload! 

1. Rock my body. 
Starting in pregnancy, I became entirely more confident about my body. Weird, right, when your body is totally changing and stretching and not at all what it once was? But really, definitely during pregnancy and then even after with my small belly pouch that never quite goes away despite running, I honestly am way more confident about my body. I think it's because I have this great appreciation for what my body did - gaining 20+ pounds, yet losing that much almost instantly, carrying a healthy baby to term. It's incredible what the body does, so I just appreciate it, despite some days of being frustrated that old clothes don't fit right. To me, the belly fat I now have is a sign that I was a pregnant gal once upon a time. It's a badge of honor, honestly. Yes, of course, I have plenty of days where I can't stand it and I suck it in and hate that I have to wear certain shirts... yes, I'm normal, too! But overall, I do try to be accepting of it. 

2. I'm the boss.
I'm more self-assured and confident in my decisions, actions and just who I am as a person when it comes to being a mom. I truly do not care what others think about me and how I raise my child. I am more honest and put my family and myself and our needs above others now. I used to be the person who would go to a party even if I didn't feel well or didn't want to see the people there or was too exhausted to think straight. Now if I'm too tired or my son's had a particularly crazy day and needs to relax or if the baby needs to nurse non-stop, I'll just say that. Life as a mom is chaotic anyway, there is no room for adding more stress or chaos to the mix. Therefore putting our needs as priority over other people's feelings or ideas is paramount. Whatever is going to give us a solid two-hour nap in the afternoon so my child is rested and easygoing for me the rest of the evening or whatever is going to make my husband and I happiest - those are the things that matter now. 

3. Just call me Martha. 
I've also become even more organized than I was pre-babies. It's a time management thing. I knew I only had my son's 45-minute nap back in the day to get the house picked up in the morning or pack the car for the beach or shower myself so I used my time wisely. I have to be organized around here to be half-way sane. I need a calendar. I need to empty the car of trash and toys often. I need to re-stock the diapers and wipes in my son's room on the weekend so the rest of the week goes by easily when I'm making a mad dash to his room to get him changed in 5 minutes before I'll be late for work. Organization makes me a better mom. I'm also more creative now that I'm a mom. I'm obsessed with Pinterest ideas, especially those for cute themed birthday parties. Yes, just call me Martha Stewart (well, not quite...).

4. Can I get an "Amen?"
Overall, being a mom has made me appreciate life more, appreciate my husband and all of his help more, and totally appreciate my own mother and sister and fellow mom friends for all they sacrifice and do for their kids. It's a BIG job. We should even appreciate ourselves for doing it. 

5. Patience is a virtue.
I am one thousand times more patient now that I'm a mom than I was before being a mom. I take time out to let my son figure things out for himself. I accept that I'll be stuck on the couch for hours nursing because that's what my newborn needs right now. I understand that it matters to my son that we do something "one more time, Ma, one more please." When my son wakes up in the night with a bad dream, yes, of course I'm a little annoyed that my slumber was disturbed. However, he's two, and I'm his mom and he needs me. So patience with rocking him and going around the room to make sure there is nothing else that scares him is what I do. 

6. Reality bites.
I am MUCH more REAL now that I'm a mom. I'm less judgmental. I'm more accepting. I'm more understanding of things than I was before. I know now that not all babies can breastfeed. I know formula is not the devil. I know pacifiers are OK and necessary really and that not all kids will have them until they are 6. I know that nap times are a must and it's OK to be obsessed with a child's routine and keeping to a schedule. I know it's also OK to not have a kid on a schedule - they all survive, we all end up doing this thing OK in the end anyway. 

7. I'm more FUN!
Now that I'm a mom I see myself as WAY more fun and creative. I let loose more. I am totally OK with my son walking through rain puddles in his sneakers because that's all I packed for him to wear to the playground before I realized it'd rained. I even walk through the puddles myself now! I go outside WAY more now, too. Even if it's cold in the winter or rainy and wet in the spring. Getting outside with an active toddler is a must, so we go. We play. Even for 10 minutes. I never used to do that. 

8. Mani / Pedi please?! 
It's funny to write that I became a priority after I had kids. It's usually the other way around. However, for me, I finally realized after my son became a year old that I do matter. I need to matter. I'm the mom around here. If things are going to be happy and healthy and continue working here my husband and I need a team effort here. I can't be getting sick or run down or go crazy or something because of stress. I have to be in tip-top shape. I matter. No, I don't get out for a mani / pedi as much as I deserve and I don't sit out on a deck reading in the sun every single day, but I do try really hard to take care of myself so I can keep caring for this great family of mine. I make sure I exercise and drink tons of water and use hand sanitizer wherever I go to avoid germs.I try to get enough sleep, even if it means taking a nap now while baby sleeps instead of folding laundry and picking up toys. I do try to get enough alone time in - even if it's just taking a long hot shower. I now understand that airline rule of putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. If I'm not working right I can't help my family to grow. 

Oh, yes, changed by the motherload...
It's hard to imagine what my life would be like without having become a mother. I am so lucky to be part of this mother world. My everything is changed by this role. It's made me a better me that's for sure.

(well, except for the mom brain part. That would go on the list of things that have been changed by the motherload that we wish had stayed the same. Ah, it is what it is!)

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