Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Motherhood Changes You

Today I was talking with a new friend I'd met in Bible study.  She's young and beautiful, and a newlywed.  Her and her husband have only been married about nine months, so she's still settling into her role as a new bride.  As we were getting to know each other, we were asking questions back and forth about our families.  She asked what it was like to be a mom of three boys.  While most of my answer involved words along the lines of..."crazy", "loud", "exhausting", I also told her that it was the best thing to ever happen to me, but part of me misses the 'Stephanie' that was before motherhood, because being a mother changes you.  I had to make sure I wasn't scaring her off...after all, she is a doe-eyed, bride.  She's eager for the future family that her and her husband will eventually have, and I don't want to smudge the rose colored glasses from which she gazes out of.  Let's be honest...isn't that how we all were before we had our children?  I went home this afternoon and put Benji down for a nap and I thought about how exactly having children has changed me.  If I could go back to 21 year-old Steph, the new bride, anxious to start our family, and prepare her for what was to come, I would tell her this:

the minute you become a mother, your life revolves completely around something other than start practicing selflessness, now.

Motherhood has completely shaped who this 31 year-old Steph, is.  No other event or change in my life has made me see the best in myself, or...the absolute worst.  Motherhood changes you.  It gave me a reason to live.  It strengthened my faith in my creator and his love for me.  It made me appreciate the small a lazy morning in my jammies, drinking coffee and watching my baby's drool-y "coos".  It made me see the world as a beautiful place surrounded with good people, but also a world that was full of dark, evil, scary things.  It made me value more the importance of a good girlfriend, one that you don't have to pretend to be perfect with.  Raising kids had made me more open-minded and helped me realize that there's more than one way to raise healthy, happy children.  It's made me see just how "mean girl" females can be, even after they're adults.  I never loved my husband more...ever...or hated him more...ever.  I've learned that some things are just not worth a fight.  My own comfort, desires, vanity, my feelings...are not important.  My sacrifices, prayers, dreams, my attitude...are crucially important.  When you become a mother, you understand what it means to love someone so much it hurts...literally, it's painful to your soul.  You begin to worry about things you never thought of, catastrophic life-changing accidents that are beyond your control...but also, things like, what if he wakes up in the night and he's cold?  You'll wake up in the middle of the night for no other reason than to watch your sleeping baby...and put a finger under his nose to make sure he's breathing...and your heart will absolutely break when you touch his feet and feel that he's cold.  You'll be thankful that your children finally fall asleep, but when they do, you'll miss them.  "Sexy" used to mean chiseled abs, now it's seeing your husband reading The Berenstain Bears, to a bed full of sleepy boys.

Me and my Bestie-girls night is a little different these days

Time to yourself becomes almost non-existent, so much so that a trip the grocery store alone, or a solo bathroom experience seems a luxury.  What you used to think as an early hour, now is considered mid-morning.  There are many times of loneliness, yet you're never alone.  You have a new love and compassion for children everywhere, and you find yourself wiping a child's nose, who doesn't belong to you, or watching closely a little girl at the mall who looks lost.  Politics now becomes something you care about because it affects your babies and their future.  You become 100% stronger than the woman you used to be: what I used to consider a hard day, is now a piece of cake.  You research everything until you become a pro, yet you still worry maybe you're not making the most informed decision.  As a newlywed, you couldn't imagine women who thought sex with their husbands was just another task at the end of the, you get it.  You find out that the minute you judge another mother, God usually teaches you empathy through a similar circumstance.  You'll never again feel carefree, because you'll never again know the reality of not being responsible for another human life.  You will think a lot about family traditions, your childhood, about your parents' rules...and you'll now understand what exactly your mom meant when she said, "You didn't come with an instruction manual."  Your definitions of words like, "rich" and "successful" no longer have anything to do with money.  Every decision that you will ever make from this day forward, has very little to do with just you, ever again.  

So...yeah, being a mother changes who you once were...but it becomes who you are.  For the better, for the worse, for the benefit and detriment to you children, for the decreasing bank account and increasing blessings, for your future, but mostly theirs.


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