Motherhood: What has actually changed?

Of course you change when you become a mother. That’s a given. It is a major happening in life and it undoubtedly splits life in “before I had kids” and “now that I have kids”. However, sometimes when I am reading comments people make attributing the ground-breaking changes in their lives (and mostly negative ones) to the fact that they became parents, I cannot help but wonder if kids are really the cause? In my opinion kids can be the trigger and likewise and more often can serve as an excuse, yet the cause of a change is not them as such. It is once again all about choices.

What has changed so drastically for me since I have become a mother? I tried to reflect on that:

  • sleep – oh yes, sleep… That’s the first thing that comes to mind. After you have kids there will be no more lazily waking up closer to noon, that’s true. Even if you were a good girl and the Universe blessed you with a good sleeper, still there will be “all-nighters” from time to time, there will be jumping up to check if your kid is breathing normally, there will be night feeds… And I am not even mentioning what’s awaiting you if you have been a bad girl! Well, it is indeed hard, but it is manageable. There are different solutions: the Sleep Lady approach, co-sleeping, shaking on a gym-ball, even the infamous cry-it-out (which I personally find unacceptable, but that’s my personal opinion) – try what works for you, or just wait for a while, it will not last forever!
  • me-time – if before kids all time was me-time now it has significantly shrunk, but I must admit that I don’t have the feeling that it’s that bad in my case. I always have at least some time for myself. I could do with more of course…
  • freedom to do what I want and go where I want – well, freedom is overrated and it is not only motherhood that sets the limits. I do feel certain limitations now, however it is just a matter of organizing for it. Before it was of course easier but also now if I really want it, I will find a way to get it. Otherwise, it is just that I don’t want it hard enough.
  • body – I do have some stretch marks despite fanatically smearing myself with anti-stretch mark creams during my first pregnancy, but hey – I am a tiger who earned her stripes! Actually that’s all there is for me. My weight came back to the same spot as when I was 18. I even still fit the pant suit that I wore when I was 18 (It did require some effort, of course.) My breasts saw some damage after two years of breastfeeding, but also nothing major. So overall, I personally haven’t experienced any significant body changes with motherhood.
  • fear – now this is probably one of the most significant changes that motherhood brought for me and it is twofold. On one hand, it is fear for my kids – overwhelming, irrational fear that something might happen to them. You can try to stay rational, you can try to do reasonable things to ensure safety and well-being of your little one, but this fear will still be there. Irrespective. On the other hand, it is fear that something might happen to me and my kids are then left without their mother. I assume the second part is even more relevant if you are a single mom, but it is true also for a mother in a relationship. But is it a negative change after all? I don’t think so. In a lot of cases it pushes you to reconsider your bad habits, to take more care of yourself and to be more attentive to yourself, so at least for me this change is a positive one.

Thus, I have to say that I am happy not to experience any drastic “negative effects” of motherhood on myself. Was it because I was lucky, or because I knew upfront what are my values, boundaries and expectations from the whole “experience” and was acting accordingly? I don’t know (smile), but I do believe all of the above had its influence.

Before I conclude, if I talk about changes motherhood brings, I cannot forget to mention the two most important positive ones which are:

  • understanding my own mother – after I became a mother myself I started understanding my own mother much better. There is a lot to comment here actually… but in the essence: Oh God, how did she cope with me?!!
  • Love with a capital “L” – and this is the most-most significant one! You love your parents, you love your husband or wife, you might have experienced “all sorts of love” before, but nothing compares to love you feel for your little ones! When these little arms are around your neck and you feel their warmth and that insane smell that only mothers know – the smell of your child’s sweet little head – that’s one (just one of so many!) of these moments when you feel a completely different “shade of love”. And despite the fact that kids drive me crazy on a regular basis, they also totally steal my heart with millions of sweet things.

So yes, there are always changes. For some people these changes might be more significant than for others, however in my opinion it is to a large extent a matter of choice and undoubtedly a matter of finding a right balance; the balance that works best for you and your family.

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