I recently had my first child. As you can imagine, a lot more changed than just welcoming an additional occupant into our home. It’s hard to articulate exactly what happens when you become a parent, but here are some evident changes that I’m guessing many moms and dads can relate to.
1. You learn to do everything one-handed
2. The bathroom becomes an oasis
You’re going to be with your little one the majority of the day. It’s amazing, but also incredibly draining. When you’re relieved of your caretaker responsibilities for a few minutes to use the potty or take a shower, you’ll find yourself taking a few extra moments to soak in the peace and solitude.
3. You become a master builder
Depending on how prepared you are, this one usually starts during pregnancy. There are many items to assemble including a crib, a changing table, bassinet, swing, bouncer, strollers, a black hole that takes all your money away… If you think any of these items are easily assembled, you’re wrong. Apparently, production companies believe no person has more free time for assembly than a new parent. Much obliged, much obliged.
4. Cars seem much faster
The whole world appears a little more dangerous when you have a helpless little one in your charge. When I got into the car to leave the hospital after giving birth, I sincerely felt shocked at the speed of the world around me. Didn’t they know I had a precious baby in the car with me? Why weren’t they being more careful? Also, why are so many things pointy? Round edges, people.
5. Nothing disgusts you
Let’s just say that if we all went to battle and the enemy started using poop grenades as weapons, some persons might flee for shelter while parents would barely blink a poo-filled eye. That’s because we’ve been in the trenches. We know that even the most minor diaper change can turn into an oil spill of doom in a matter of seconds. We survived the Diaper Massacre of 2018 – that changes a man.
6. Naps are life
However much newborn babies need naps, new parents need them more. It’s common advice but it’ll save your life: sleep when your baby sleeps. This isn’t always an option, but take advantage any and every time you can. I haven’t slept longer than four hours at once for the past two months (and that one time I got four hours? Complete bliss). Naps are sustaining me. I heart naps.
7. Everything your baby does is fascinating
“Look, she’s smiling!” “Did you see that? She moved her foot!” “OMG LISTEN TO HER BREATHE!” I realize these don’t seem like grand milestones worthy of celebration, but they are. They really are. I lived in a world without this baby for years. Now she’s here and every single thing she does is new. It’s astounding. Every parent will understand; there is nothing more amazing than watching your baby grow.
8. You get nostalgic
Preparing to mold your baby’s childhood brings back memories of your own. I find myself randomly remembering toys I used to love playing with or shows I always watched. I’ve compiled a lengthy list of movies to watch with her when she’s older and I can’t wait to crack open the box of my favorite childhood dolls to give to her so she can enjoy them like I did.
9. You’re part of the parent club
There’s a sense of camaraderie with fellow parents. You know things that people without children simply do not know. It’s hard to explain. I’m an aunt to three nieces and nephews, I was a preschool teacher, I even have a degree in early childhood development. It’s still not the same as having a child of your own. It wasn’t until I became a parent that I officially joined the club.
10. Life becomes PG
This one varies from parent to parent. For instance, my husband’s language was always rated E for everyone. I used to find it a little funny how he avoided swearing, but since becoming a mama I’ve quickly followed suit. I’ve also noticed how difficult it is to shield my baby’s brand new ears from some rather filthy language or subject matter. I’ll turn down the radio when I know a bad word is coming or change the channel when inappropriate commercials air. I know we live in an unapologetically uncensored world, but my baby has only been around for eight weeks. She doesn’t need to be exposed to that bologna.
11. Other parents earn mad respect
You did this for eighteen years? You raised five of these things? You somehow retained your sanity?? You deserve nothing short of a gold medal, an all-expense paid vacation and a parade in your honor. Entering parenthood has made me vaguely aware of the many trials seasoned parents have already experienced. I tip my hat to every soul who has raised another human being. You the real MVP’s.
12. Your wardrobe suffers
I used to dress well. Now it’s rare for me to be spotted without my sweatpants. Outfit choices become much more practical, particularly if you’re breastfeeding. Not only do you need easy access to your you-know-what’s, but you also need to have something absorbent because they leak. Yeah. Sexy.
13. True friends reveal themselves
Not everyone is baby crazy. I get it. You don’t have to gush over my baby’s cuteness or trip over yourself craving to hold her. I do that enough for the both of us. However, if you lose all interest in me as a person simply because I gave birth to another… well, you’re kind of a crappy friend. Yes, I’m tired and busy navigating this new chapter in life, but I’m still me. If you’re willing to disappear from my life, know that I do not have the energy to chase after you.
14. You learn to work as a team
I’m lucky to have a dependable spouse who is just as devoted to this baby as I am. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m just not the biggest fan of teamwork. I prefer doing things solo, always have. But raising a baby entirely alone is virtually impossible. You have to learn to (gasp) ask for help. Having a spouse, family member, or friend around for support is a lifesaver.
15. Shopping becomes about them
I’m pretty frugal when it comes to actually spending money, but man can I fantasize. I’ve always enjoyed window-shopping or making wish lists in my head. Those lists used to be filled with things like dresses, purses, and new makeup. Now I have the time of my life perusing through baby clothes and thumbing through children’s books for my baby girl. Her wardrobe is already far superior to mine.
16. Everything requires a strategy
“I’m thirsty. I’ll go get a glass of water.” That’s how simple quenching my thirst used to be. Not anymore. Now it’s more like, “I’m thirsty. When I’m done feeding her then change her diaper then put the diaper in the diaper genie then change her clothes because they got spit-up on them then carry her downstairs then strap her in her swing then, if she doesn’t immediately start crying, THEN I can get myself a glass of water.” It’s amazing that I haven’t dehydrated yet.
17. People become much more friendly
Most people are baby crazy. I see the look on a person’s face change from grim or bored to happy and adoring when they see my baby. She brings out the best in others. Countless strangers have approached me to share kind words and remind me to enjoy these moments that rush by far too quickly. It’s been lovely to witness so much kindness.
18. You see the many functions of your body
I used to give little thought to my body aside from hoping it looked decent in a swimsuit and maintaining the ability to run somewhat quickly in case of a zombie apocalypse. Now I realize the female body is pretty baller. I carried life, pushed it out of me, and I’m equipped with everything I need to feed and sustain her. It may not be the sexiest thing, but it is definitely the most beautiful.
19. Exhaustion sets in
We’ve all been tired. I’ve pulled all-nighters cramming for finals and worked crazy long hours. I experienced moments of exhaustion and I’m sure you have, too. But when you have a baby, exhaustion is your constant state. It never goes away. A brief nap is terminated when a diaper needs changed. Nights are regularly interrupted with feedings. You just learn to function in a half-awake, zombie-like state.
20. You feel a new kind of love
It’s cliché but completely true, there’s nothing like a parent’s love for a child. The moment I first held my baby I felt overwhelmed. This helpless, innocent little being depends on me for everything. She trusts me and needs me in ways I’ve never experienced before. I feel fiercely protective of her well being as well as her happiness. I want nothing more than to be the best parent I can possibly be so this sweet little girl has the amazing life she deserves.