It’s no secret that having children is a life changing event, but it’s not fully understood just how much it changes your life until you actually experience it firsthand. Of course, becoming a father is also life changing for men, but I think this feeling is experienced differently for women – not in a better or worse way – just different. After all, we are the ones who carry a child for 9 months, experiencing rapid physical and emotional changes. Not to mention, hours of labor and delivery, and weeks to months of recovering. For us mothers, the changes begin the minute we see that little blue plus sign – and it is a beautiful, indescribable feeling! Obviously it is impossible to describe all the ways having a child (or children) changes a person’s life, but I will be discussing 4 specific areas in this post. Let’s get started!
*Keep in mind these are no specific order.
1. PUTTING SOMEONE ELSE BEFORE MYSELF
This is probably an obvious one. But like I said before, you don’t realize just how true it is, that having a baby sometimes means putting your needs and wants on the back-burner. Please don’t mistaken this as being a bad thing or a “complaint” of some sort – it is simply part of adjusting to parenthood, and in my opinion, it means you are being selfless, and realizing that everything isn’t about yourself anymore; you have something (or in this case, someone) else to live for. Like most first time moms during their pregnancy, I was nervous about knowing what my child needs, and if I would be able to fulfill those needs sufficiently. My mom would always tell me “not to worry, things will come naturally”, and she was right. I was surprised at how natural it felt to care for the needs of my baby without thinking about it, and putting his needs before my own. That being said, not everything is an easy adjustment; it is a learning experience that never ends, but rather, changes as you learn to adjust and mature in your parenting skills. Now, this doesn’t mean once you are a mother, you can NEVER fulfill your own wants and needs again. Of course taking care of your children will consume the majority of your time and energy, but it’s important to find time for yourself to relax, and take a breather. For some moms this may be putting on your favorite movie or show during nap time, getting your hair or nails done, treating yourself to a massage, doing some shopping, cozying up with a book, getting a work-out in, or just relaxing and not doing much of anything. However you choose to spend your “me” time, remember that being a mom doesn’t mean you can’t still take care of yourself.
2. DAILY LIFE
This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with number 1 on the list. Whether you’re a first time mom, or have several children, it’s no surprise that your daily life is different once you bring baby home. Everything from getting dressed, to cooking and cleaning, to eating, to leaving the house, to shopping, to going to dinner, and anything else you can think of, is a different experience when it’s not just you (or you and your mate) anymore. This is especially true if you are nursing, and even more so when your baby is still nursing very often. It can literally feel like your daily activities revolve around nursing LOL. But just like number 1 on the list, you learn to adjust, and get things done around your child (ren)’s schedule. Things also slowly get easier as your child gets older, and becomes more independent.
One piece of advice I would give to expectant couples, is to go on dates and spend quality time together before your baby arrives. That’s not to say that these things are impossible after your baby is born, but it is harder to fit them in, since you are no longer able to only focus on each other. Because mom’s are usually the primary caregivers, we also have to learn how to find a balance between being a mother, being a wife/partner, and still finding personal time in between. That being said, it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed in the beginning (and again if you have another child later on). It’s important to remember to ask your partner for help when you need it, whether that means preparing meals, cleaning, caring for the baby, etc. This is especially important if you have subsequent children. Also, don’t forget about each other. Make time for date nights without the kids, spend time together when the kids are asleep, etc. Having children with your mate should being you closer together – not draw you apart.
Understandably, fear and self-doubt are common emotions among new or expectant parents, whether they have one child or multiple. Mothers may fear that they will know what their baby needs when they cry, if they are getting enough to eat, how to care for their basic needs, etc.; fathers may worry about providing for, and protecting their child. One thing I realized when we had our first baby is, I feared (and still do) that I would make the same mistakes my own parents made when I was growing up. Don’t feel guilty about feeling this way – all parents make mistakes. Wanting to avoid your parents’ mistakes does not mean you don’t love them, or appreciate what they have done for you.
Needless to say, parenthood is probably the biggest responsibility a human being can take on; we never stop being parents no matter how old our children get. Even though becoming a parent means you will experience many changes in your life, the word “changes” does not have to mean “bad” or “worse”. I’ve never been a fan of the saying, “Once you have kids, your life is over”. Of course there are situations that are not ideal for having a child, but in my experience, having children with my husband has been beautiful and amazing in so many ways. Yes, it’s challenging, but I urge you, don’t let the challenges of parenthood distract you from appreciating the blessings!
How has becoming a parent changed your life? Or, if you’re not a parent yet, what changes do you anticipate? Leave your questions/comments below!
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