My life changed on October 5, 2015, the day I gave birth to Harris. A joyful, curious and independent spirit who loves to read, ride his bike and dance. I thought I was prepared for the changes motherhood would bring, but I soon learned that I didn’t have a clue how far-reaching and deep these changes would be. From the mundane (no more sleeping in) to the esoteric (you try explaining veganism to a two year old), the changes have been swift and consistent. There is no area of your life that remains unaffected by becoming a parent. Not. One. As soon as I feel like I’ve got one thing down, something else steps in and takes it’s place. Staying flexible is key. Of course everyone tells you the typical things that will happen “You will feel a love like no other” (true) and that ‘you will develop such patience!” (getting there), but now that I am almost 4 years in, here 10 things I would add to that list:
You will eventually get tired of hearing the word “Mom” Call me crazy, but I don’t want to hear anything 1,376 times a day even if it is my own “name”.
You become completely awestruck by the beauty and grace that surrounds us each day. I didn’t realize how essential Motherhood would be to my spiritual journey and the cultivation of gratitude, but having the opportunity to watch this little spirit unfold and find his way in the world makes me thankful each day for all that we have been given and all the good that surrounds us.
Your personal grooming will decline. Sorry, ladies but it’s a fact. Mostly because your priorities shift and suddenly having a few free hours equates to a nap vs a pedicure. You will eventually regain your equilibrium, but there will be a few years where self care takes the form of sleep. Suddenly you look up and realize you haven’t had a bikini wax in ages and your hair looks like shit. So you book an appointment wanting “a change” and come back with a short cut only to realize you haven’t lost all your baby weight and now you look bigger and why didn’t anyone tell you not to do it and arrrrgghhh having short hair actually takes MORE time. Sigh.
You will be extra thoughtful about what you say and how you react to things. This one might sound obvious, but I’m not talking about not cursing in front of your kid. Which I have done and I have only heard him say ‘shit” twice. He used it correctly, which made me kinda proud. He understands context, and that’s a life skill, so I’m doing a good job.
What I’m talking about are the auto programmed scripts/responses that we all have. Caught in traffic? It happens. Am I complaining about it, getting irritated, shifting the energy in the car so that Harris now learns traffic = annoyance/anxiety? Or am I calmly observing it saying “Well there’s some traffic. Nothing we can do about it so let’s turn up the music and enjoy the ride!” It’s in the subtleties that our children perspectives are formed, so you best get yourself aligned so that what you say matches what you do. They are watching.
The question “why” will become so exhausting that eventually, you will give up trying to answer. My friend Paul said it best when he told me that when his son was born he envisioned himself answering every question and explaining the world to him… “Why is the sky blue, Dad?” “Well son, the sky is blue because air molecules scatter more blue light than red.” “Why do mosquitos bite, Dad?” “Well, son, mosquitos bite because….” However, now that he’s in the thick of it he told me he finds himself acting like he didn’t hear his son’s question. Eventually, his son stops asking when he doesn’t respond. Ideal? No. Effective? Totally.
The number of hours you have to do everything else you were doing in your life before you became a parent suddenly gets reduced drastically. Imagine being told at work that all the work that you used to do in 8 hours now has to be done in 5 AND they’re giving you more work to do. In those same 5 hours. That’s parenting. You quickly realize something’s gotta give which brings me to…
You let a lot of stuff go. And I mean a lot. You simply can’t do and be all you were before so you have to prioritize. Find your top 3 priorities and focus on those. Let everything else go.
At some point you will wear bras that look like your Mother’s. You know the ones. Practical. Supportive. When you realize this you will throw them out declaring enough but soon regret it because none of your old lacy numbers fit. So you will put on a sports bra and keep it moving (comfort is a priority) until you finally decide to head to Saks for a restock which may or may not take 2 months.
You will embark on a spiritual journey like no other. The biggest change I wasn’t expecting was the deepening of my relationship with myself as a result of becoming a mother. Seeing my life (and myself) through the eyes of my child has encouraged me to reexamine everything I thought I knew, digging into myself in a way I never have before. Children come into this world authentic, open and whole. Over time, unless you are conscious of it, they will begin to lose touch with their own voices and start to identify with yours. We all carry within us generational trauma, false perceptions, emotional pain and harmful patterns passed onto us unknowingly by people and events that took place years before we came along. Your job as a parent is to look at all the stuff you picked up over the years and start deciding what you want to keep/pass on to your kid and what you don’t. If it’s negative, nonproductive, or harmful to yourself or others – let that shit go.
You will never finish a thought when hanging with your toddler. Toddlers (or at least my toddler) move at the speed of light. A whirlwind of questions, ideas, and thoughts there is simply no time for any of your own to really take root. As a creative person who spends a lot of time thinking, this was a huge adjustment for me. I envisioned myself reading the Sunday times while Harris played quietly nearby, but the reality is he’s not quiet and by then he goes to bed all I want is an edible and silence.
Being a Mom is hard, but (and here is the time tested cliché), but it’s by far the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I’ve done to date. For all the parent’s out there – what would you add to the list? Any advice/lessons you have learned over the years?
Photos by my talented and gorgeous friend Lauren Ridge @lilysophiaphotography