I knew when I found out I was pregnant that my life was going to change drastically, but I guess I'd always thought about the changes that would be made to my lifestyle. I knew I'd be tired, stressed, worried, and, well, responsible for the life of another human being. What I didn't anticipate was how drastically aspects of my inner self would change as a result of becoming a parent. I can name six ways in which this is already happening after only six short months of being a mom.
I'm more sensitive to tragedies involving kids.
I used to hear about tragedies striking children, and of course I cared, but it was in sort of a detached way. Now, I feel these stories right down to my core. I can picture my child in the same situation, and it is an utterly gut-wrenching experience. I can put myself in the place of the parents and try to glimpse an iota of what they must be feeling, and an iota is often all I can take.
I can function on less sleep.
I used to believe I needed at least nine hours of sleep in order to optimally function the next day. When our newborn came along, I was absolutely amazed that I wasn't passing out in the middle of lunch every day. Even when I returned to work, I was up several times a night with the baby, but I still functioned quite well in the office. Now I don't mind getting up early anymore, and when my baby has a rough night, I'm not all that worse for the wear the next day.
I'm better with other people's babies.
I recently went to a wedding at which there were lots of babies close to my daughter's age. I was able to calm one, make one laugh, and put the next to sleep using techniques I would probably never have mastered if I hadn't had my own child to practice on. I just feel more in tune with babies in general - what their cries mean, how to communicate with them, and what they need - than I ever was before.
I have a higher "ick" threshold.
If I was ever grossed out by anything, I'm pretty sure that reaction is long gone. Having dealt with the amount of dirty diapers and spit-up I have by now, I've gotten somewhat immune to the "ick " factor. I've also gotten very good at breathing through my mouth so as not to smell anything foul - a technique my husband has not yet mastered, as I am reminded whenever he helps me change a diaper.
I'm more relaxed about the unknown.
When my daughter was first born and I sank into a state of baby blues, one of my main issues was dealing with the unknown. My daughter's entire life and every stage of it seemed to play out before me as I realized I wasn't prepared for any of it. I'm a girl who always likes to know what I'm doing in advance, have the answer to everything, and not deviate from the plan. That's impossible with parenthood. As a mom, I've learned to be OK with learning as I go and to have great faith that together with God and my husband, I can get my baby through anything.
I have a greater capacity to love.
I had no idea before my baby was born how deep love for another person could run. I had experienced the strong love between spouses, which is a beautiful thing, but my love for our child is instinctual and all encompassing; it permeates the very core of my being. Being a parent has helped me journey closer to that model of perfect, selfless love I strive to imitate, and it amazes me how each day that I spend with my baby, the love only seems to grow deeper.
Yes, I am a different person than I was before I became a mom. There are stressful, impatient days when I feel like I am moving backward, but when I step back and look at the big picture, I realize I'm wrong. Being a parent is self-actualizing; it is drawing me deeper into the experience of being human than I've ever been before. Sometimes this happens through the very corporal experience of exhaustion, but it mostly happens through the very spiritual experiences of faith, hope, and love.
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