“What’s on the agenda for today?” I asked him, not really expecting a response. I finished fastening his diaper and offered a suggestion, “Boobs and poop?” Baby T burst into a wide grin, his toothless gums accenting his perfect smile. My heart beat sped up and that same feeling of incredible joy filled me; it happens every time I get that delightful response from my baby.
I never was really sure that I wanted children. The whole process seemed overwhelming, and going through labor and birth scared me more than I think it scared most normal people. Why the hell would I want to go through all of that pain? The horror stories made this anxiety worse. Yet almost a year ago my husband and I decided it was finally time for us to try to have a baby. For some reason the commercials with babies were a lot more enticing, the babies in the strollers at the mall a lot cuter. “Tick tock tick tock, do you hear me, bitch? Your clock is ticking.” “Yeah all right, simmer down, ovaries, I got it.” It’s funny how fast things change. It’s even funnier how fast I became pregnant. I barely sneezed and there it was, two pink lines on the pregnancy test. Oh shit, I had thought.
A scant 8 months later and my baby boy was here. Once the tidal wave of emotions quelled, I was able to take some time for introspection. Mostly during breastfeeding sessions at 3 a.m.– it’s when I do my best thinking. I’ve recognized a lot of changes in myself, but none more so than these…
1. I’m not ruled by worry anymore.
I wrote before on how pregnancy has made me a better person, and now motherhood has had an even greater impact. My favorite hobby pre-baby was worrying. If it wasn’t one thing it was another; I was constantly finding things to worry about. I worried a lot about the future. I worried a lot about not having the right career. I worried a lot about having a career and but needing to make more money. Worry, worry, WORRY. It always felt like the other shoe was about to drop. It was a horrible feeling, and I suffered from a lot of anxiety. These days I don’t worry so much. Of course I have the normal parent anxieties about what kind of person my baby will be or if he has stopped breathing in his sleep—I better go check for the 10th time today—he’s fine. Now I don’t worry about things so much. It’s not that I don’t care, it all just pales in comparison to taking care of my little human. He’s my number one, and as for the rest of it,
2. I’ve realigned my priorities.
I used to obsess about the development of my career, even though the field of public health was one I wasn’t passionate about– I had picked it because I had the most credits towards it in college and needed to select a major as a sophomore. I even got my Master of Public Health degree in an attempt to make a lot more money. I would obsess about what people thought of me: my appearance, my work ethic, my participation as a family member and friend. I even cared what strangers on the street thought of me. Now I couldn’t really give a shit. Again, it definitely isn’t because I don’t care about who I am as a person or take secret pride in the upgrade effect that make-up has on my face, but I don’t feel that it is appropriate to be that stressed about the problems that probably weren’t even problems to begin with. You might think I’m being a bad friend because I can’t text you a lot or have the same social life. I know you’ll understand one day when you have kids. I still care so much about you, but my priority right now is being a mom, first and foremost. Please be patient. I have to do it the way that I feel is best for us. I just hope you’ll understand. I’ll be back one day, just not in the next foreseeable season. Or first year post-birth. I’ve definitely learned that
3. I’m a lot more patient and much slower to anger.
Looking back, I think I was too fiery of a person, and not in a good way. There’s a difference between passionate and caring and then just getting crazy. I never used to blow up (I don’t think) but I was definitely impatient with others and, more importantly, myself. I used to get frustrated and angry really quickly. Definitely attributes that aren’t cute on anyone. Having a baby forces you to be patient and calm. Getting frustrated or angry or worked up doesn’t help anyone, and often your baby will sense it and make him get worked up in turn. I’m patient with T, but also much more patient and more kind to myself. It is easy to be hard on yourself and get mad about your new mom body or your new life, but taking a step back and realizing that you created a human being from the most basic cellular level really changes your perspective on your jiggly thighs and soft gut. Writing about it makes me realize that most of it was probably a reaction of insecurity. I didn’t love myself the way that I should, and wasn’t proud of what I had accomplished thus far in my life. Now
4. I feel at peace in my heart and soul.
And for the first time I’m completely happy with myself and my life. It feels amazing. I can make decisive decisions. Well, I can most of the time. No one is perfect. But not expecting perfection of myself in every aspect of my life has been very freeing. I am okay with doing the best that I can, because it is working out just peachy. I enjoy each day as it comes and look forward to tomorrow, and toward my future. Up until this point, I had been living in the past. I would look back on my college days with an overly fond nostalgia that wasn’t healthy. I wanted to go back, and this prevented me from moving forward. For the first time in my life, I am able to live in the present. I am able to live with peace of mind. However,
5. I won’t take any shit.
Part of having this newfound security is realizing how much I used to let others dump on me. Nuh uh, not any more, sister. Not only do I have to care for myself, I have a little one to protect now. There is no messing with this mama bear. I’m not going to take any criticism about my weight anymore. I’m not even going to field questions about it. It’s not really anyone’s business how much weight I gained during pregnancy, or how fast I’m losing it. It’s not anyone’s business about how we will make it with a single income and me staying at home. It’s not anyone’s business about how I handle T’s sleep training—or lack thereof. If you haven’t discovered it yet, people loooooove to give you opinions on how to be pregnant, how to give birth, how to breastfeed, and how to raise your baby. Some of it is genuine compassion and good will. But the rest of it is just nosiness. I don’t have to take it, and neither do you! It is as simple as politely saying “Thank you for sharing your opinion” and leave it at that.
Motherhood is awesome. In fact, I am a little obsessed with it. I never thought I would be, but I am so glad that my life has led me here. I am fortunate and blessed, and am grateful every day for it. Namaste.