I didn’t grow up dreaming of having children.
It’s not that I didn’t want them; I just sort of assumed I would have a couple of kiddos and didn’t put much more thought into it. I babysat a bit throughout my younger years but didn’t really love it; honestly, I found it boring. I didn’t race toward the altar so we could race to a nursery. My husband and I had very full lives before we brought a child into them. We both had busy, bustling careers, active social calendars, and lots of personal passions. We also loved to stay up late and sleep in.
All of this is to say I really wasn’t sure how this whole “motherhood” thing would mesh with my personality. I wasn’t concerned that I wouldn’t love my child; I just wasn’t super confident that I’d actually enjoy parenting, the daily repetition of it all, the mundane tasks.
I didn’t want motherhood to change me all that much either—I overall liked who I was. I spent my 20s figuring out what I wanted, what I loved, what I valued… or so I thought. People speak of “losing yourself” when you become a mother, and I didn’t want to be one of those cases.
But once I gave birth to my first child, Bode, on April 27, 2017, I realized I had little to worry about when it came to “losing myself”–becoming a mother helped me to find myself in a whole new way instead, clearer than I could have ever imagined.
Once I gave birth to my first child, I realized I had little to worry about when it came to ‘losing myself’–becoming a mother helped me to find myself in a whole new way instead, clearer than I could have ever imagined.
I was one of those lucky first-time mamas who had an “easy” first child. Bode nursed well, slept through the night at 3 months old, and went days without crying. I recovered quite quickly from my delivery and felt fabulous within a couple of weeks. We quickly found our rhythm with Bode attached to me via the Solly wrap, playing, and giggling for hours, eagerly waiting for Daddy to return home at the end of the day for more family fun.
I wasn’t immune to the postpartum hormones and emotions though, don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of tears and worries, but overall I look back at those early weeks with my first baby with fondness. Yes, I stressed over nap schedules, but in retrospect, it was a special, precious time. Not only was I getting to know this new little human, but I was getting to know this new “me,” a new identity that revealed itself a bit more every day.
I loved being home with my baby. It’s become very clear that I’m a homebody at heart. While outings to coffee shops and bookstores are enjoyable and needed, an afternoon spent at home is just as blissful to me. The day-to-day tasks of childcare didn’t feel laborious; I enjoyed them.
And it kept getting better as Bode got bigger and more playful, full of so much expression. He introduced me to a new kind of joy, one I had never experienced before. Life sparkled a whole lot more.
Motherhood came more naturally to me than I could ever have imagined. Yes, I struggled and stressed like so many moms (and still do), but for the most part, I feel like I am here on Earth to raise my children. It feels really cliche and corny but also so true: becoming a mother gave me a feeling of purpose I had not felt before. And that feels great. I hadn’t known this type of love existed, I hadn’t known what I was missing out on until I actually experienced it.
No one can fully capture these emotions until you go through it yourself, and as I did, my life lit up in brand new ways.
Becoming a mother gave me a feeling of purpose I had not felt before. And that feels great. I hadn’t known this type of love existed, I hadn’t known what I was missing out on until I actually experienced it.
Parenthood forces you to make choices, to pick your priorities, whether you like it or not. With a new member in the family and a very needy one as it is, you simply don’t have the same amount of time to devote to your social life or your hobbies. You must choose how to spend your precious “free time”—AKA during naps and nighttime—so it better be worth it.
Some mamas find this stressful; I found it to be insightful.
It helped me weed out the noise and the mental clutter and focus on what I really enjoyed. I used to have a DVR list that went on forever, but I now had no time to watch hours of TV every evening. I stayed true to my all-time favorite shows (Grey’s Anatomy, This Is Us) and ditched the rest (bye-bye Kardashians). No judgment if you still binge on Bravo, because motherhood also revealed just what a waste judgment is. We all have various hobbies that help us relax; you do you and be proud.
I dove back into reading and began to seek out different social media content that would entertain, inspire, and inform, and that I could relate to. My interests have become clearer on what they always had been, but now without any excess.
I gave birth to my second child 19 months after my first, and it wasn’t exactly as smooth sailing as the first go around.
But even amid the chaos of a second child within two years and during the holidays, it all felt “right.” I was meant to do this, and I loved it. If anything, with your second child, you know just how quickly time goes by and babies don’t keep, so you experience the newborn phase with a new sense of reverence. I let my second baby boy nap on my chest a lot more than “you’re supposed to.” I snuggled extra hard and indulged in his whims just because. I put off sleep training. And in the end, he taught me more than I could have predicted.
He taught me to relax and have faith.
My boys are now two very active toddlers. My days are filled with (so many) dinosaurs, trucks, trains, and endless messes. We’ve started preschool and are looking into activities for the summer months. I see my future of arranging schedules and shuttling them to practices and playdates. This is a new kind of exhaustion, different than the early days; I now deal with nonstop negotiation courtesy of my almost-3-year-old and constant cleaning up due to my 14-month-old. I sometimes look back at the newborn days with envy at their simplicity.
But I also remind myself that these days will fly by too. Before long, they’ll both be in school, they’ll want to play with their friends instead of Mommy. So, I hug them as much as possible, indulge in their dance parties, and always read them that requested “one more book.”
There is no doubt that motherhood changed me in many good and “bad” ways. I’m probably a bit more anxious, and I know I’m quite snappy when it’s been days with little sleep. But I’m also patient in ways I never was before, more understanding, and more confident in myself, the person I am, and the evolution I continue to experience.
And when it comes down to it, I like this me. I like the mother I am, and I like the woman I have become and will forever feel grateful that my babies gave me this gift.
This article was originally published on February 10, 2020, and has been updated for timeliness.