One of my fellow mamas who writes for the Fort Worth Moms Blog posed a question to my online moms group for one of her upcoming posts and the question is one I have never contemplated for longer than a few seconds due to the fact that I didn’t really ever have time to put it into words.
“How has being a mother changed you?”
A simple question with a not so-simple answer. This response needed to be something that I savored, breathed upon, maybe even prayed on. It wasn’t going to happen during the blaring episode of Peppa Pig in the background my busy 2-year old daughter was hardly watching. It wasn’t going to happen during the folding of the five loads of laundry that had literally JUST piled up over the last three days. And it definitely wasn’t going to happen during one of the many, many nursing sessions with my newborn baby boy.
And so, the next morning, before everyone woke, I tiptoed downstairs and made myself a hot cup of coffee (a rare treat as most mamas are well aware). I sat down in the living room and in the peace and quiet of my home (again, another rare treat), I pondered how the woman I was had changed by becoming a mother.
In seeking an answer, my mind traveled back to the woman I was before children. The woman who was obsessed with every pound gained or lost on the scale. The woman who had been in several long term and not-so-long term relationships with men that she didn’t see a future with. The woman who wasn’t “complete” without a full social calendar and a daily five-mile run.
I mentally ran through the memories of my 20’s. Trips to distant and fun locations such as Cancun and Australia; late night bar-hopping, dancing in clubs; spending Sundays waking up at 11:00 AM and meeting friends for brunch at 2:00 PM; laughing with my girlfriends in dark corners of restaurants for happy hour; weekly manicures and pedicures; and shopping trips to buy frivolous heels and handbags. Fun times, truly.
As I sipped my coffee, I smiled at the memory of this woman. The girl that was on a journey that she didn’t know would end quite like it has.
It is then that I mentally snapped a photo of the woman looking back in the mirror on the occasion that I can actually survey myself closely. The woman looking back at me had a few more lines in her forehead, tired eyes, a gray hair or two (when was the last time she had it professionally colored again???), about 15 pounds of “baby weight” that clung to her midsection and thighs, and wearing a holey tank top from Target with baby puke permanently stained on the right shoulder along with a pair of leggings that made those thighs appear not too shabby.
I realized that the me in my 20’s would’ve probably been appalled at the sight of me now. I am not proud to admit this, but I was quite judgey in my younger years. I used to be one of those women who thought that mothers were a little over-exaggerative at how difficult it was to raise a child. I also was the first one with an opinion about how children should be raised and wasn’t afraid to share it with other parents.
I chuckle at those memories. To all those parents that I expressed an absolutely ignorant suggestion to, I’m so glad you inwardly rolled your eyes at me – probably whispering to yourself the infamous “Just wait until it’s her turn!”
So here it is …. and I take a deep, long yoga-practice breath … and upon the exhale, I realize how I have changed as a woman by becoming a mother. And that is …. I am a better woman.
I am softer, both physically and emotionally. I am more empathetic. I am more humble. I am more present – living in the moment that my daughter blows her first bubble and squeals with delight at it dancing in the breeze, instead of constantly living in the past.
I am more giving – of myself and of my possessions. Nothing means more to me than my relationships now. They are vital to my life. No one in my life is disposable; they are there to stay for as long as they will have me.
Simply put, I am more.
Becoming a mama to both my daughter and my son has put an end to a lot of things that at one point in my life were so very important … but, I couldn’t be happier. Being a mother is the hardest job in the world and it can almost break you some days. In fact, I will say it did break me … it broke me into all the pieces of a better woman.