10 ways motherhood shook my whole life to its core
As a podcaster, one of my favorite topics to discuss with my guests is motherhood and what it changed in their lives.
So many things are at stake in motherhood.
It seems to be the most natural thing in the world. I mean, animals do it without thinking about it. It seems simple, primal, easy and yes... Natural.
But the thing is, for us humans, things are not that simple.
We have the freedom to decide whether or when we become parents.
Our young are born weak and extremely dependent to their parents. And said parents, who had a whole life going on for themselves, often don't realize the extent to which things change once a baby is brought into the mix.
I can't wait to read in the comments what it changed for you !
I for one didn't realize how much everything was going to change, and how parenthood would change the very person I was.
So here are the 10 ways motherhood changed all the other aspects of my life.
1. Functioning with extreme exhaustion is doable
I don't think anything in the world could have prepared me for the exhaustion I felt after giving birth. I mean, nothing ! Not even having given birth for the first time. Because, it's true what they say : you do forget everything... the pain, the exhaustion. I mean, you know in your mind that you felt them but it's as if your body forget all about them.
But that exhaustion is truly something... It makes you incoherent, extremely unfocused and irrational.
There is no way in the world I would trust my baby with someone THAT tired!
And yet... I somehow managed to actually take care of a little human, and then 2.
I even managed to change jobs, to thrive in my new job and to learn how to drive. Of course, I didn't do that right after giving birth.
But as the "lucky" mama to 2 terrible sleepers, I'm chronically tired, even 2 years after giving birth to my youngest. So yes, I'm giving my self kudos for those achievements accomplished under extreme tiredness.
And I'm sending you all my love and compassion if you're also on Team Terrible Sleepers ! Those little night owls WILL end up sleeping through the night.
2. Discovering that the human body truly is amazing
During pregnancy, I remember watching my belly with awe. Wondering if my skin could stretch indefinitely or end up snapping.
I gained weight (between 16 and 19 kgs) and that alarmed me. I tried to eat super healthy but I still gained weight. To be honest, I felt a little betrayed by my body who didn't seem to want to cooperate and just do what I expected of her (yes, my body gets a "she").
And I knew my gurl had my back when my weight started to magically go down with breastfeeding and well... time.
And when my daughter turned 18 months, I noticed that everything started to be firmer or tighter again. My body started to respond the way I expected her too.
Any fellow Kegel exerciser will get what I mean by that, I'm sure.
Now, let's be clear, I did not regain my 18 yo body and that was never my intention.
But what I learned from it all is that my body is just fine. She has my back even during the times where I don't treat her with the love and care she deserves. My body and I are at peace now. And I have a profound respect for her.
I mean, she got me through a C section and a natural birth.
So kudos to our imperfectly perfect human bodies.
3. Meeting with my new BFF : mama guilt !
MamaGuilt and I got acquainted during my first pregnancy and she has never left my side !
The direct effect of her presence by my side is that I'm always wondering if things are my fault if anything goes "off rail" in my children life. In other words, it must be my fault if:
- my baby was breach
- my baby is a poor sleeper
- my child bites another one
- my child throws a tantrum
I could go on and on, but you get the idea !
I find that it's easier to tune out that feeling as my children grow but boy... That b***h is loooouuuuud !
4. Realizing that your child is an actual human PERSON, not an imaginary perfect baby
Before I became a mother,I would listen to the struggles actual parents went through with their very real real kids and secretly judge them for the way they handled their situations.
But it was easy for me, since my kids were imaginary hence perfect.
Then I became a mother and that quickly poured some humility into me !
I realized that my children were actual people, with their own will, their own tastes and their own reactions to things.
I also learned that if I was going to make this parenting thing work, I'd better adapt to THEM and not the other way around.
I might not succeed 100 % of the time but hey, the intention is there !
5. Learning to co parent !
My husband and I had discussed at length what kind of parents we wanted to be (see point 4...) but boy, were things different when we actually BECAME parents !
I had (and still have) to learn to make room for his instincts and his opinions while struggling to listen to my own. When you factor in the exhaustion and overwhelm... that has been a bumpy road for us.
But I also feel like it gets easier as our children grow up. I guess I feel less like The One Who Knows It All. I also have a feeling that it's just the calm before the adolescence storm. But I guess we have a minute to get ready for that.
That being said, it might be a bumpy road at times but I think becoming parent with someone you love is a great experience.
For me, the one thing that says all about the way the relationship evolves resides in a look. THE look. You know that look you exchange with your partner when your children do something funny, cute, weird. A look that is charged with so many emotions that it's hard to describe : pride, love, muffled laughter, anger sometimes,...
I honestly think that this particular look is one of the closest thing there is to telepathy.
6 Thinking about those tiny humans 24/7 : Hello obsession !
Raise your hand if you have ever thought about your children while :
1. Doing an important presentation at work
2. Someone was telling you about something completely unrelated to children
3. Seeing an ad, again, completely unrelated to children
Again, raise your hand if you have ever thought/talked about your children INSTEAD OF :
1. Thinking about yourself, let's say during a self care moment
2. Having a grown up activity (wink wink) /conversation with your partner.
For those last two, I think it's important to maintain them even if the first 15 minutes are about thinking/talking about your marvelous offspring !
7. Trusting a complete stranger with your baby's safety and health
It's true though... If both parents in your household chose to go back to work, the baby has to go somewhere, right?
Well, in France, if you're lucky, you can have a space in a daycare facility. But there are quite a rare find.
Or you can find a child minder. A.k.a someone you talk to on the phone (once or twice), meet with (once or twice) and then, after a short period of settling in : boom she takes care of your child while you get to go to work !
I must admit... that messed with my head a little. But I'm cryer and a mama bear, so, there's that...
8. Redefining your vision of work
Becoming a parent can change the way we relate to work.
Personally, I knew I didn't want to spend long hours away from my children. And I also wanted to have a job with significance, as if maybe to justify being away from them.
It doesn't mean that I'm frolicking and playing with them all day every day when I am with them but yeah... I want to be around for them.
And the funny part is that I kept thinking it had to do with them being so small. But as time goes by, I think I want to be around. PERIOD.
So I'm incorporating that variable to the design of my future ideal job!.
9 Embracing the "new parent" identity for our loved ones to see
How did becoming a parent affect YOUR relationships with your friends ?
I think I have been lucky. I had a friend show up to cook me a great lunch while I was on maternity leave (aka alone with my baby all day).
I was also blessed to be pregnant at the same time as many other friends. So I honestly feel supported and understood by my friends. I do have less time to meet with them or have long conversations on the phone like I used to, but I know they are going through the same things and we're there for one another if needed.
If that I hadn't been the case, I think I would have reached out to many groups I could to connect with like minded parents and create my own support system.
There's another relationship that was improved for me : it's the one I have with my own mother. Motherhood made me understand her like never before and it made things better between us.
I doesn't mean things are perfect especially since my mama (probably like many others and mother-in-laws) has her own idea of how I should do things but after Baby N.2, that doesn't get to me like it used to.