There is no book, relative, advice column, psychologist, or psychic that will ever be able to truly capture what it is like to transition into motherhood and all of the many changes that come with it. I’m not even talking about the physical “alterations” we are all cursed with. I mean the way life, love, and even your personality is forever altered.
The Obvious, Ugly Truth
- Your house will never look the way it did before you had kids (at least until they are at the age where they are no longer totally dependent. But let’s be honest, teenagers are about as messy as toddlers, aren’t they?)
- You are suddenly late to everything when you used to be obnoxiously early.
- You have become a pretty unreliable friend between the many days (dare I say, weeks?) of those quickly multiplying unanswered text messages and phone calls. At first, the radio silence startled some, “we weren’t sure if you were okay! We hadn’t heard from you!” And then there are the absolute last-minute, but-I-am-already-on-my-way cancellations over vile things like projectile vomiting. Thanks, but no thanks.
- Your personal aspirations seem stagnant as you come to realize you simply can’t do it all. I hate to say this, but you can’t be an involved mother, have an immaculate home, make every meal from scratch, uphold a full-time career, get a solid 8-hours of sleep, be the symbol of peace, write a book, and change the world. . .every single day of your life. There are those beautiful days where you say to yourself, “Wow, I really got this.” I am truly thankful for those days. But your body, heart, and mind can only run at full capacity for so long before you blow a fuse. That’s okay! You are human after all; cut yourself some freakin’ slack.
- The deeply unsettling moments where you feel as though you can’t even recognize yourself anymore. You don’t know who that lunatic was that sat down for dinner, but it sure as hell wasn’t you. You wouldn’t have snapped like that. You are better than that. The guilt catapults us back into reality as we desperately try to reel back the damage.
The Unknown, Beautiful Reality
- As much as having children has shown me those deep-seated flaws tucked away tight below the surface, they have also forced me to alter my personality in ways that make my life so much better. I was the image of the stereotypical type-A personality before I had kids. I loved to plan far ahead and I clung to the illusion of control with white-knuckles. We can pretend, but there is absolutely no sense of control when you are a mother. We guide, yes, but we cannot control human beings. They are utterly unpredictable. From how you thought your trip to the store was going to go, to canceling that long-awaited, desperately needed night out because your toddler spikes a 104° fever and is whimpering in pain 10 minutes before you were about to walk out the door. Having kids has taught me to take each moment as it comes, without expectations of how it is going to go. I can HOPE it will go a certain way, but I in no way expect it to. It is amazing how such tiny humans can change our entire perspective for the rest of our lives.
- They make us assess how we interact with others, whether it is a stranger waiting behind us in line, or a relative who overstepped their bounds. They are always watching, and whether we like it or not, they are a reflection of us. For years, all they know is what they see us do and that becomes “normal” in their eyes until it is challenged by an outside source. If we treat others, and them, with cruel words and unruly emotions, so will they. My children have forced me to look within myself, and grow in more areas than I could list, even the way I interact with strangers has drastically shifted.
- You are forced to become quite selfless, despite how that sits with you or not, because the truth is their needs will top yours more often than not.
- They inspire you to learn about things you never would have before. My eldest is absolutely obsessed with space. I hear a countdown throughout my day as every inanimate object possible transforms into a spaceship, and anything with wheels instantly becomes a lunar rover for him to navigate. His quickly blossoming passions have inspired me to learn more about subjects I never thought I would have, just so I can further his knowledge of them. And I would be lying if I said his excitement isn’t contagious. (I was just as thrilled about our first trip to Kennedy Space Center as he was!)
- You are forced to eat better because they want a bite of everything you have. It wasn’t until after my eldest started to eat solids that I really became motivated to teach myself how to cook. After all, a body is like a machine, the quality of what you put in is reflected in how it performs. I wanted to assure that his palate was so fresh and so clean clean (Yes, I took it there.) If we are being totally honest, I eat great during the day; but at night, that dark corner of the pantry just out of his line of sight comes to life and all of the horrible things I would never want to share come out. “It’s okay,” I tell myself, “I’ve earned this.”
- You might be pressured, or motivated—depends what way you look at it—to have less screen time in your every day life. Maybe it is the nagging guilt tugging at you to be more “present,” or hearing “Mommy” on an infinite loop in a crescendo that makes you toss the device to the side and step away. Whether it is to play with them or care for them, we are pushed into the moment unfolding right before our eyes.
- You are excited to share the world with them, and all of the many adventures and immeasurable beauty it has to offer. For this, I have found myself delving into past times I had long ago dismissed, like gardening to teach them the importance of the world we live in, to becoming more adventurous in the great outdoors. I joke that I am living my childhood once more through them, but truly they add more adventure than ever before and give me boldness to try new things.
My children make me want to live up to the noble superhero they seem to think I am as they wrap their arms around me and say my name–for the millionth time that day–but in a tone that makes me realize I wouldn’t want to be anything else but their mother.