I’ve heard it said that what we learn becomes part of who we are. We take a little from every life experience and sew it into the fabric of ourselves. Our life lessons, our mistakes, our successes, our goals – both achieved and failed – all become a part of the person we will forever be. There has been no greater teacher of life lessons than the experience of becoming a mother. There has been no greater hardship or happiness in my life. I am undoubtedly a different person since these two little people came into my life. As I plan my son’s 2nd birthday celebration, I sit back and reflect on the lessons I’ve learned since becoming a mom and how this all has become part of who am I today.
10 Things I Learned About Myself After I Became a Mom
- I can persevere through tough times. Those early mornings when I struggled to find the energy to get out of bed, but I woke up with my child, found some caffeine, and cuddled her tightly. That night in the hospital with my one-week old son who was having trouble breathing. The day we buried a friend’s child and I got to come home to mine. Life is not always easy, but we learn to push through and survive.
- I can love deeper and more powerfully than I ever knew was possible. There is a physical reaction in a mother’s heart when she lays eyes on her child for the first time – and for the two hundredth time. The love I feel for my children is stronger than any other emotion I’ve experienced in life. I would lay my life down for either of them in a heartbeat.
- I am thankful for the little things. I know my days of Mickey Mouse marathons are numbered, so I am thankful that I watch an episode every morning at 7 a.m. There will be a day when my daughter doesn’t want to help me cook, so I will pull up a chair and let her stir the sauce anytime she wants. As I mentally prepare myself for the days of slamming doors and rolled eyes, I soak up the snuggles and kisses I get these days.
- I am thankful for the big things. My obstetrician once said, “The last day you want your child to be normal is the day he is born.” She was implying that once you realize that your child can breathe and see and move his limbs, you then want him to be above average, to the right of the bell-shaped curve. While this is true, I still find myself thankful for the “average” things about my children. They can run. They can talk. They can play and laugh and sing. The big things in life. I don’t let myself forget that these average things really are blessings.
- I am able to put myself on the back burner. I will put my wants, needs, desires, and goals at the end of the list in order to provide my kids with the childhood they deserve. When I brought my children into this world, I made a commitment to society that I would raise successful, productive future adults. If that means that I need to sacrifice a little of ME to do that, I will.
- I can ask for help when I need it. As a self-confessed control freak, it takes a lot for me to ask for help. But when I found myself in the depths of postpartum depression, I allowed myself to ask for help and it saved my life. I struggled to admit the truth – fearing the judgment from others. But once I finally cried out for help and saw how many people were in my corner, I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort and support. I’ve learned asking for help is not a weakness. Nobody can do Life all alone. We all need a hand to hold, even us moms.
- I can be the mom I want to be. A woman told me the other day that she doesn’t know how to pack her kids a lunch. What?? I don’t understand that. She said she wouldn’t even know what to put in a kid’s lunch. I stared at her, astounded by this admission, as she just laughed it off. But, she’s still a great mom. That’s not the mom that I personally want to be, but that’s who she is and she’s happy with it. I can choose to be the mom I want to be. I can be in the PTA or not be in the PTA. I can pack lunches or have my kids eat school lunches. I can braid my daughter’s hair or throw on a headband. No matter what choice I make as a mom, I get the right to choose what kind of mom I want to be. No one else – not friends, family members, or neighbors, will dictate what choices I make as a mom.
- My brain is capable of amazing things. Having children made me lose parts of my memory – I’m convinced of that. How can I lose a pair of shoes that was just sitting right here?? But having children also created the capability in my brain to manage 100 thoughts simultaneously all while listening to a story about someone playing tag on the playground today. Are we running low on toilet paper? Did I thaw the chicken for dinner? Did I sign that permission slip? Have I eaten lunch today? Did I start the dryer? What time is that meeting? When was the last time I mopped the floor? Did the baby poop? It’s incredible and exhausting.
- I can be sad and happy at the same time. Isn’t the irony of motherhood that we can feel multiple emotions very strongly at the exact same moment? We can feel both pride and fear as our child gets on stage to perform. We can feel both excitement and sadness as our child attends his first day of school. We can feel both guilty and moralistic as we discipline a child who is being taught a life lesson. It’s as if our hearts are separated into two parts and each part is allowed to feel something different. These contradicting emotions can coexist within us at any given moment and we as moms understand them completely.
- I can be who my kids need me to be. I can be their rock, their soft place to land, their cheerleader, their friend, their role model, and their inspiration. I can be there when they fall and I can be there to release them when they are ready to fly. I will always be the mother they need me to be – even when they’ve made bad decisions or taken the wrong path. I will be the safety net they can turn to because every child needs to know he is unconditionally loved and has a safe place to come home to.
As I travel this journey of motherhood, I am altering the fabric of who I am. I never realized how much I would change and grow this far into adulthood, but I’m thankful that I have. I approach the world differently and will forever be a different person than I was just four short years ago.
It’s the weekend, so my List of Ten is linked up with the amazing Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop. Check out the other writings, you’ll be inspired. I promise.