My oldest daughter turns 7 today. That means that it’s been just over 7 years since I was my pre-child self. Scientifically speaking, the cells in the human body completely regenerate every 7 years, meaning that I am a completely different person today than I was on April 23, 2008. That means, more than I knew before, parenting changed me.
The Bible often cites 7 years when referring to rebirth and renewal, and Buddhists follow seven steps to enlightenment. There’s just something about that number – 7 – that ushers in newness, freshness, a feeling of completion.
Every parent’s journey is different but here are 7 ways that parenting changed me since those first moments of mommyhood:
Ways Parenting Changed Me
I like kids.
Thank goodness parenting changed me for this one. I was never really a “baby” person as a kid or teenager. I didn’t dislike kids as a young adult, but I wasn’t really impressed with them nor did I notice if they were cute. I really didn’t care. Boy has that all changed. I absolutely love kids now — my own, their friends, the offspring of friends, my nieces, my nephew, and strangers’ babies that I see in line at the grocery store. And that didn’t happen overnight. With each child that’s been added to my life, I like the rest of the children of the world even more.
I’m better at my job.
Parenting changed me by making me get my act together career-wise. I’m more organized, more goal-oriented, and more concerned with the quality of what I create since becoming a parent. It seems that parents get a bad rap for maxing out their sick time, or leaving the office early to take junior here or there but let’s be honest: I took sick days and left early before I was a parent, and usually for pretty lame reasons (disclaimer: I’m not saying that childless people have lame reasons for needing time off work; I’m just speaking to my own pre-child reasons). The security of work (freelance/contract work in my case) is certainly part of what has elevated my work ethic but it’s about more than that. I want my kids, my girls especially, to see me pursuing the things that make me happy and getting satisfaction from my talents.
I care about politics.
Social issues matter much more to me than they did 8 years ago because I care about the country/world that I’m handing to my kids. So I read up on the people on the ballots and keep tabs on those serving in office. And I never, ever miss a chance to vote. For this reason, I am happy parenting changed me because I am more educated on how to make our country better for their sake.
I cry a lot more.
Sometimes just thinking about my favorite Publix Christmas commercials starts my sniffling. If a kid brings home a handwritten Mother’s Day card that they made in school, forget about it. I’m a blubbering fool the rest of the day. Even the mundane details get to me sometimes. I came back from a run last week and stood outside for a few minutes, trying to catch my breath. I could hear the cacophony that was my family just beyond the front door. Older kids jabbering. Toddler laughing. Baby blowing raspberries. My husband asking someone to pick up something off the floor. The TV playing the “Paw Patrol” theme song. All of those little, intricate details of my family – MY kids – suddenly overwhelmed me and catching my breath turned into drying my tears before I went back inside.
I stand up for myself.
Parenting brings a heightened awareness of right and wrong. There is certainly a sense of “the world isn’t fair” that comes with it, but after you’ve grown, delivered and nurtured human life, I guess you could say you end up with a chip on your shoulder. You think you know a thing or two about the world. That confidence, for me, has translated into a higher opinion of myself and what I’m worth as a mother, a woman, a friend, a worker, and a human being. I don’t go out of my way to seek out confrontation but I don’t get pushed around either. What I think, feel, believe and do matter and not just because I have kids who depend on me. Being a parent has shown me that I always mattered more than I believed I did. And I won’t be swayed otherwise.
I’m less stressed.
I’m not saying that every moment is Zen around here and it can certainly get chaotic balancing the responsibilities of parenting, marriage, friendship, work and more. In general though I have a “bigger picture” view on life than I did in my pre-kid days. The minor stresses in a day are just that: minor. I often ask myself – will this thing I’m worried about matter in five years? In five minutes? Only the things that get a resounding “yes” are the ones to be concerned with on purely an anxiety scale. The rest don’t deserve that nervous energy.
I’m all out of F*#%s.
I don’t care what people think of me anymore. I used to try, even as a parent, but after awhile the sheer energy that goes into actually sustaining human life and fostering an environment conducive to the survival of the species just zaps all the self-consciousness right out of you. I may not parent the same way that you do, but I’m a great one. So are you, by the way. We are learning through SAFE trial and error and let’s face it, neither of our kids are angels. So I don’t care if you subscribe to a routine-based schedule, or child-led weaning, or are raising your children in a particular faith, or let your toddler eat cheese sticks and Lucky Charms for every meal because it is literally all that he will eat. Good for you. To ALL of it.
Today I’m busy getting three kids ready for school, keeping two others happy between finishing weekly work duties, getting ready for a road race I’m co-directing with my husband tonight, getting three of my kids ready to run that race, getting the house/dinner ready for a babysitter who will be with the others, running 6 different errands, making 10 different phone calls, squeezing in a three mile run myself, planning a birthday dinner for the weekend and getting my house ready for visitors who arrive tomorrow (did I mention I’m writing this at 4:17 a.m.?). If you want to put your six-month-old in a swing/car seat/Bumbo chair for five minutes so you can make lunch for yourself, I say go for it. If you want to lay with your preschooler at naptime because she won’t fall asleep otherwise and you really need that hour alone, do that too. If your three year old is still using a pacifier, or wearing diapers – guess what? He can’t keep that up forever. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Do your best day by day. Heck, do your best moment by moment because it is all of those little moments added up that really count.
What big changes have happened to you since becoming a parent?
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Category: Life Changes