One of the biggest, most common fears women face about dipping their toe into the pool of motherhood is wondering if they will lose their identity. Will I get to still do the things I love? Will I have to give up everything that was once important? Will I lose my “me” in the process of becoming a “we”?
It’s all so valid. The fear. The wondering. I’ve been there, and I’m here to tell you, it’s all true. You will lose bits of yourself along the way. You will change. You will be changed.
Since becoming a momma, I’ve lost…
…my sense of entitlement. I now see first hand how difficult it is to make life work. Having a family means you have never ending needs. Layers upon layers, of needs. It can be mind boggling just how much you, your spouse, and your kiddos need on the daily. All of those needs require work, perseverance, grace, and patience. I’ve learned that we aren’t owed anything. This life requires so much work, but it’s so worth it!
…your mental clarity. There are so many days (SO. MANY. DAYS.), where I say and do things that make me feel like a cliché. These are the type of things I would have either made fun of, or vowed to never do before I had kids. (Ohhh, so young, so stupid!) But you really DO end up calling your kid by every name except his/her own. You really DO put the milk in the cupboard. You really DO start driving and forget where you are going. You really DO forget to pay bills. You really DO show up to appointments 1 hour early (or one day). You do all these things. And then you forget about them when you are trying to tell your husband the funny anecdote from your day and he just looks at you like you’re crazy.
…my perfectionism. It’s taken me awhile, but now I realize that my desire to create perfect situations was an effort to manipulate and control because I couldn’t handle what it “said” about me if my life appeared imperfect. Kids have this habit of taking your “perfect” and absolutely wrecking it. They wreck evvvverrrything. Literally. But that is ok. No, it’s better than ok; it’s great! Because perfect isn’t real. Perfect is an illusion. Perfect doesn’t exist. My kids have shown me how to pursue present over perfect. They’ve shown me that they need me to be real. They don’t need me running around, stressing over details that ultimately make me look good but don’t make me feel good. They’ve also forced me to be real with people, or risk silently sending the message to others that who my kids are and how our life looks isn’t good enough. If I worry too much about how we appear, then I start to apologize. I apologize for the dishes not being done or for my hair not being washed or for the kids’ silly behavior. All that does is tell my kids that I’m embarrassed by our life. And I’m not. I’m SO not. The dishes aren’t done because I work my tail off to make great food each night, but then my husband goes off to work his third job and I get the kids to bed and we read stories and I tend to matters more urgent than the dishes. My hair isn’t washed because I get up early to feed three kids and talk and pray through a million and one concerns in order to get one on the bus, and then before I know it the clock says it’s time for lunch and if I haven’t had a shower by lunch – it ain’t happening. And my kids are wild and silly because, well, that’s just who they are. They are creative and fun and we live in close quarters and they are real life flesh and blood with big imaginations and quirky personalities. So they’ve taught me to drop my expectations because my expectations were formed before I knew anything about motherhood or life and instead, I embrace the real life before me. Not because I’m settling, but because it’s perfect just as it is.
…my sleep. Everything everyone ever told you about not sleeping as a parent is 100% true. All of it.
…my self-centered goals. I used to have all these professional goals that, while they weren’t wrong in and of themselves, they were just kind of…shallow. I don’t feel too bad about that, I just view it as part of the growing process. Now, thankfully, my kids have helped me grow into a more mature, selfless, life-giving set of goals. I have passions and goals that about others. My vision has been expanded beyond myself. Beyond my abilities and desires and small minded way of thinking. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: kids don’t limit you, they inspire you: to work harder, think bigger, and get tougher.
…my whineyness. I have to admit, I was kind of a wimp before I had kids! They’ve brought out the tough-as-nails, go-big-or-go-home, check out THESE guns (points to biceps), momma bear kind of attitude. I’ve done so many things that I never would have dreamt of doing before kids. Suddenly, I’m not only dreaming about them, I’m attempting them. Motherhood doesn’t make you invincible. It doesn’t mean you accomplish everything you set your mind to doing. But it does give you the motivation to work harder, dig deeper, and be braver than ever before.
…my self-centered friends. Once you have kids, you just can’t make time for grown-ups who have the same kind of behavior as your three year old. It’s one thing for my kid to constantly need my attention, be 100% absorbed with their own wants, or throw tantrums when you don’t do what they want, but momma ain’t got time for grown ups who try and pull the same stunts. BYE FELICIA.
…my need for so much stuff. I know people joke about how you go over-board buying your kids anything and everything and then feel guilty about purchasing something for yourself, and that’s really not what I’m talking about here. Having kids has just put into perspective what really matters most. It sounds cheesy, but there it is.
…my judgmental attitude. Before I became a mom, I judged everyone in the name of being “realistic” or “honest.” (Ugg. The “I’m just being honest” phrase now makes me want to puke.) Having children has a way of punching you in the gut so hard, so often, that you can’t help but relinquish your grip on your judgy attitude. You realize that, by and large, most people really are just trying to do their best, just like you. You realize that there have been a million and one things that have come your way that you never would have expected, and you’ve had to deal with those situations the best way you know how. You’ve tried, you’ve messed up, you’ve felt embarrassed, and you’ve hoped and begged for grace and forgiveness along the way. You realize that everyone has a story behind their story. you realize that everyone is hoping they come across as competent and able to do the task set before them. You also realize that almost no one believes those things about themselves. You throw kindness around like confetti, because they only way everyone wins is if we drop the judgment and pick up someone’s hand and say, “Let’s do this messy thing called life together.”
I’ve lost so many things since becoming a mom. So many things that were once very, very important to me. But for every one thing I’ve lost or given up, it’s been replaced by something that offers so much more value and fulfillment.
Having kids will change you. But we all need to be changed, every now and then.
What is it that Sheryl said?
I think a change would do you good.