I want to wish all the mothers out there a happy Mothers Day. For this year’s Mothers Day post, I’m sharing five of the ways that motherhood has changed me.
Before I became a mother, I had all these ideas of what parenting would be like. I care for and teach children every day, so I thought it had prepared me and in some ways, it did. I was comfortable with bottle feeding, changing diapers and soothing crying babies. I had learned about the value of giving children choices and setting appropriate limits. I had discovered cool toys and activities that I wanted my children to have. I saw wonderful children’s books that I wanted to read to them.
The thing with childcare is that the children leave at the end of the day. I didn’t have to deal with the sleepless nights, the endless work and the joys and challenges of parenting. I hadn’t grasped the overwhelming idea of having another human being truly depending on you for everything. The instant I found out I was pregnant, my life had completely changed. Here are just a few of the ways motherhood has changed me.
Becoming a mother has given me a different perspective and makes me a better childcare provider. I am much more empathetic towards other parents. I used to be really judgmental. I thought I’d be one of those parents who wouldn’t let their kids watch much tv. I was going to bottle feed and who cares. My baby wasn’t going to have a pacifier. My baby would sleep in her own crib. You get the picture. My reality after Rosebud was born was completely different. During my pregnancy, I had done some research and decided to breast-feed. My baby eventually got a pacifier because I was tired of being one. She slept with me because she refused to sleep by herself in her crib. My choices were sleep or insanity. I chose sleep. Unfortunately, she gets more screen time than I’d like. I need to get things done around the house and sometimes I just need a breather and it keeps her occupied.
Now when other parents come in with these struggles, I understand. When moms come in with really small bottles of milk because it’s all they’ve pumped, I can empathize. When they want their babies pace fed, I get it. When a single mom lets her kid watch tv every night because she needs to get stuff done or just relax, I’m right there with her. When a parent doesn’t want to hear that something is wrong with her child, I completely understand. While the educator part of me wants to help that child as soon as possible, the parent part empathizes with the denial and wishing it wasn’t true.
Before Rosebud, I was more likely to step out of my comfort zone and take risks, but I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more anxious now. I worry about everything, especially the future. I remember my high school days where I was excited to be going off to college. I went across the country to start over in a totally new place. I was more confident, more independent and full of hope.When things didn’t work out there, I was crushed, but I picked myself up and returned to a local college. After lots of volunteering, I eventually got a job and then my life basically stayed the same for several years until Rosebud was born. Back in high school I did some traveling as well and that stopped.
I don’t remember the last time I went anywhere alone. I’m less confident about applying for jobs, meeting new people or trying new things. I have Rosebud to think about now and I think about how everything I do might effect her. I admit, I can go overboard. I’ve tried to make a lot of changes, but I’m not as confident as I was before. My anxiety plays a big part in that. I am a work in progress. Pushing through the hard stuff is an important thing that we all need to model for our children.
More Aware of Time
After I became a mom, I suddenly realized, I didn’t have any time to myself anymore. I insisted that I’d be showering everyday and I never gave that up. I needed that to feel like myself, so when Rosebud was a baby, I put her in the bouncer in the bathroom while I showered. I heard other mothers say how they could barely get a shower in and I decided that wasn’t going to be me. My time slipped away in other ways. I barely could write in my journal anymore. I rarely watch tv now. My crafting hobbies have pretty much disappeared. There are a ton of cleaning projects I’d like to tackle, but when? My time is divided three ways. There’s Rosebud, my day job and the blog. Other than that, there’s a few hours of sleep in between. I will never take good sleep or free time for granted again. When I have time to write in my journal or take a ceramics class, I enjoy it so much more now.
I Will Not Settle
When I found out I was pregnant, I decided that I could never settle. This applies to all areas of my life. I couldn’t settle for a bad relationship because I didn’t want my daughter to have bad relationships as an adult. I want her to see a healthy relationship. Two people that treat each other with respect, looking out for each other and supporting each other. I didn’t want her to grow up seeing constant fighting or a relationship that was distant and unhappy. I want Rosebud’s childhood to be filled with happy memories, not painful ones.
I can’t settle in my career. I need to find something I truly enjoy. Childcare has taken it’s tole since Rosebud was born. While I have become a more empathetic childcare provider, I have become a far less patient one. My exhaustion of 24-7 childcare, office politics and my wish to be home with Rosebud have pushed me to the tipping point. That’s why I’ve been working so hard to find something else. I want Rosebud to know that she doesn’t have to settle either. It’s hard when you have to balance responsibility with what you know is right in your heart.
I Trust Myself
I’ve heard a lot of parenting advice over the past three years and you know where I’ve found the solutions? From my own gut instincts. Since becoming a mother, I have learned to trust myself. People said I was creating bad habits by letting Rosebud sleep with me. At fifteen months, she transitioned into her own bed and has been a great sleeper. In my heart I knew she was ready. I followed my own instincts and it worked out. The same went for potty training. I got endless advice and pressure and I tried so many things. Eventually I gave up. Yes, I gave up. I said, we aren’t doing this right now. I told her that when she was ready to use the potty to let me know. A few weeks later, she came to me and said she wanted to use big girl panties. A week later, she told me she didn’t want the night time diaper any more. She’s been dry ever since. I always thought she’d do it when she was ready and she did. I felt guilty for not following my instincts and caving in from outside pressures, but I learned an important lesson.
I’ve applied this to other areas of my life. If I get a weird vibe about a situation, I trust myself instead of trying to make excuses or staying to be polite. I haven’t always been good at advocating for myself, but if something is wrong, I am starting to speak up about it. It’s amazing how we get conditioned to ignore our inner voice. We need that guidance, especially when we are parents.
Motherhood has changed me in so many ways. Everything from simple daily routines to being more emotional about certain things. Some changes are for good and others not so much, but I wouldn’t change a thing about Rosebud. I’m so glad she came into my life. How has being a parent changed you? Tell me in the comments.