There have been many turning points in my life, of course: September 11th, my parents’ divorce, meeting my husband…those are a few that come to mind. Each of these has changed me; there is a very clear before and after. Becoming a mother has been another of those milestones. I could make jokes about my new digestion/poop expertise, or the difficulty of looking stylish anymore, but I think I’ll try to be serious. Here are a few of the ways becoming a mother has changed me:
1. My heart has gotten bigger. Before having kids I think I had some vague idea that love, like water, was a limited resource. But now I understand that our capacity for love is infinite. The more there is to love, the bigger our hearts get. If I gave birth again I have no doubt my heart would grow even more. The love feels almost physical, like a shiver. This heart-expanding is an amazing feeling, almost drug-like.
2. I understand what it’s like to be a parent. This may be an obvious one but that doesn’t make it insignificant. I have a better understanding not just of my own parents but of parents everywhere and what drives them. I’m not saying I understand what it’s like to be other people, but I know how being a parent has affected me and that allows me to feel more empathetic.
3. The world seems more mysterious. I am not a religious person and never have been, but I reserve some wonder at the mystery of the universe and forces at work greater than ourselves. A year and a half ago my husband and I were sitting in a doctor’s office while a nurse rubbed a sonogram wand over my not-yet-large belly. “You’re having twins,” she said. Sure enough, there were two little blips floating around on the black screen, one on top of the other like bunk beds. Now here they are, Munchkin and Bean. I can’t pretend any of it makes sense.
4. I feel like I have to be a role model. Whether the babies really care what I do or not is sort of beside the point. They allow me to see myself from the outside and that helps me think about who I want to be. What’s important in life? What do I want my career to be? What sort of home do I want to create? What sort of mother do I admire?
5. I’m more thankful. I’m thankful for my babies’ health. I’m thankful for my health, my husband’s, my family’s. I’m thankful for my husband, for our home, for good food. I feel lucky all the time. To be perfectly honest, to go along with “more thankful” should also be “more fearful.” At the same time I’m thankful for all these things, I feel like I have more to worry about and more to lose.
6. I live more in the present. The babies will never be this age again. They will never be sitting here, babbling to the rocking horse and giving it kisses on the nose again. That, and I’m too busy to think much about anything that isn’t attending to everyone’s basic needs at this particular moment.
7. Time moves more quickly. As we get older it’s true time moves more quickly, but since I had the babies it’s been on overdrive. Every hour of the day is taken up with making my way through their daily routines. The days fly by. The weeks, the months. They are almost a year old now and this whole year has passed in a second. My time has become incredibly limited and incredibly valuable.
8. I can appreciate life’s pleasures. I recently saw this quote from Lorrie Moore from her new book, Bark: “Here’s what you do for your depression. I’m not going to say lose yourself in charity work.[…] I’m going to say this: Stop drinking, stop smoking. Eliminate coffee, sugar, dairy products. Do this for three days, then start everything back up again. Bam. I guarantee you, you will be so happy.” It’s basically the same with babies. Lying in bed in the morning without having to get up immediately, taking a walk without a stroller or bags, sitting in a cafe alone with a coffee, reading a good book uninterrupted, taking the time to watch a robin hunt for worms. The fact that I now almost never get to do these things makes me appreciate how absolutely heavenly they are. And when I do get to do them, it’s bliss.
That’s about everything that’s coming to mind. I’d love to know your thoughts.
19 thoughts on “How Becoming a Mother Has Changed Me”
Well said. I think you covered everything I have felt over the past year. Sense of wonder at the world has been elevated. I suspect this will increase as they become more vocal, and start to tell us stories.
I can’t wait to hear what they’re going to say 🙂
This is a beautiful blog! I’m glad motherhood has treated you so kindly.
Ha. Thank you! I guess I was sort of focusing on the positive.
It is so wonderfully strange and amazing how motherhood changes you to your core. I was once told, the more exhausted you are at the end of the day means you’re doing it right 😀 It sounds like you’ve got it right my dear. Also, I love how you did this illustration. It gives a great feeling of time passing.
Thanks Alisa! Glad you noticed the illustration, too 🙂 I do feel the time passing!
But also living in the moment!
All of these ring so true to my experience, beautifully written. I was just discussing number 2 with a good friend the other day. She has three little ones and always looks so calm and collected. I thought nothing of it until I had my son. The other day, I told her my awe and respect for my Mom and other parents, like her is just inexplicable. Thanks for this post!
I know, I almost wish I could go back in time and react differently when my friends had babies. Bring them food, be more understanding. Now I know what they were going through.
My biggest change since becoming a parent is realizing that I’m not as good at it as I thought I would be. I have far less patience, it’s really disappointing actually. 😦
Seems like you’re pretty great at it. And love is the important thing, right?
I really like #8. It’s amazing how wandering around Target by myself can now make me super happy. I don’t even have to buy anything!
I know, doing anything by yourself feels like an absolutely amazing luxury, so sweet.
Lovely. You are ‘in the thick of it’ right now. The babies growth will slow down an you’ll feel like time slows down too. I appreciate how incredibly busy you are. I remember getting out to the hairdressers was a real treat or running just to clear my head. Right now, a hot bath is my escape.
I remember feeling overwhelmed with love when my twins were born, I thought my heart was going to explode. I wondered how I would feel with more children and would it be possible to love them all as much. I think you’re absolutely right, our hearts just keep on growing.
Yes, I was thinking I should have clarified that this was more specifically “being a mother of babies.” Not sure how I will feel as a mother of older children 🙂 Will time slow down? That would be good.
Very well said. I especially like the line about the physical love, like a shiver. I also feel more in the present, I feel fiercely defensive, I feel grateful, lucky, but also fearful. They are all such strong emotions. I never could quite have imagined how deep this feels.
I know, the fearful one is definitely there. There is so much to worry about–have to make an effort to keep that under control 😛
What a wonderful blog. My girls are five months and I’m about to start taking care of them alone and I’m absolutely terrified. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.
Hi! Thanks for visiting and reading. We are definitely not alone, as I’ve discovered since I started blogging! I’ve loved “meeting” all the other twin moms and dads on here. It’s definitely exhausting, taking care of twins alone. But also rewarding and exciting to see all those milestones and development. Thank you for commenting! Come back soon and let me know how it’s going.