When I was pregnant this summer I knew that my life was going to change. I accepted it. I posted on Facebook: "I don't want to be the kind of person who refuses to let a baby change them, who tries SO HARD to preserve their pre-baby self just to prove something." And that's still true, even though I'm adamant about retaining my own identity. But I had no idea how much I would change. Obviously, I knew that I would have more responsibilities. I would have to change diapers, make bottles, comfort a crying baby, etc. But that wasn't even the beginning.
Here are some of the ways that being a mom has changed me:
I have no filter.
A friend recently wrote an article that, among other things, said this about how mothers talk: "Moms get real. I'm not sure what makes so many of my Mom Friends so blunt. Maybe it's the experience of childbirth that cured them of shame. Maybe it's the difference in priorities. But I know I never have to ask them to be honest with me: they already are. They never try to baby me with sugar-coated criticism because they have a baby to coddle at home."
And it's very true. I find myself sitting in class and taking the discussion to places most of my classmates are clearly not comfortable with (ex: talking about how the sensations of breastfeeding and sex are similar), but that's just the way my brain works now.
I have no patience.
Having a child and being in college can make you lose patience with a lot of things and a lot of people. When someone starts talking about how they have an allowance or how they stayed up until four a.m. or how they have a crush but they're too much of a pansy to do anything about it...I can't handle it. I do not have the time or energy to deal with that kind of nonsense. I have other, more important priorities in my life.
My work ethic has improved ten-fold.
I used to be like most college students: glorifying busy, waiting until the last minute to write an eight-page paper, going to bed at midnight, forgetting to eat breakfast, etc. I don't have that luxury anymore. What that means is: I work diligently and in increments on all of my papers so that when it comes time to pick my daughter up from daycare and go home, I have nothing more to do and can devote all of my time and attention to her and my family; I go to bed when she does because that's the only way I'm guaranteed any sleep whatsoever; I also get up when she does, which is usually six or seven o'clock, meaning by the time I get to my eleven o'clock class I am ravenous, so yes, I eat breakfast. The end result: I am often done with my assignments on time or even beforehand and am more well rested and well fed than my baby-free peers.
Things that used to matter don't anymore.
Obviously, changing diapers doesn't phase me anymore. Before my daughter was born, babies grossed me out. Now I wipe her nose with my hand and I don't give a damn. Doing my makeup used to be a priority, now only special occasions warrant eyeliner. And none of that matters to me anymore. Honestly, I don't miss it.
I care about things I never thought I would.
Watching my daughter try to put a pacifier in her mouth (right side up) is more exciting to me than the Super Bowl. I keep a running tab of her bowel movements. I worry that her development isn't on track with the babies at her daycare. I try to find the most healthy food, the most stimulating activities, the most politically correct toys for my daughter.
It's added a whole other facet to my self-esteem.
Sometimes I feel like a super mom, but most days I feel like a shit mom. Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I find pictures of my friend's baby and it depresses me. Why? Because her baby is rolling over, and mine isn't. Because she dressed her baby in cute clothes and did a photo shoot, props and all, and my photos are a mess. Because her nursery is decked out with all of the "right" gear and plush furniture, and mine isn't. There's a ton of guilt that surrounds parenting and I feel the weight of it all the time. I want to be the perfect mother, and I can't be.
It's added a layer to my feminism.
I am a strong, independent, 21st century women and I know that I can brave the sexism of this world. But now I have to think about making the world the kind of place that I want to leave for my daughter. I have to think about how to raise her, how to navigate the treacherous waters of feminist parenting. I have to make all of my decisions based on whether or not I am being a good role model for my daughter. Or, at least, try to.
Basically, my brain has been re-programmed.
I see motherhood in everything now. I recently watched The Hangover with my husband and I made him turn the TV off. I've seen that movie before, pre-pregnancy, but now I couldn't condone their shenanigans because they neglected an infant during the process and I was too hormonal to find it funny anymore. I can't talk about literature without seeing it from a mother's perspective. I can't make plans without getting a babysitter.
I will never be the same, and I'm glad.