I hear it all the time– don’t let parenthood change you! So and So had kids and now they are just so lame! Heck, I even said it myself–“I won’t let becoming a parent change me.” Oh, how sweet and naive I was. Of course, that was back when I was also researching how to get your baby to sleep through the night by seven weeks. I didn’t realize it at the time, but four month preggo Emily was selfish. Very, very selfish.
If you ever need some character development and a realistic view of your self-absorbed nature, get married. If you want to find out every personal flaw that you’ve ever possessed, have a baby. Why? You will find very soon that life in fact, is not, and never will be, about you. But, the good news? You don’t care. As soon as that baby comes into the world and you hold them in your arms, they open their little eyes and make the cutest noises in the world, you provide them with nourishment from your own body and promise to protect them from any and all dangers the world has to offer, something happens.
It changes you.
No longer does it matter that you might not get a full nights sleep for years, that you have to miss out on a girls night, that your body doesn’t look like it used to, or that people think different of you as a women because “you had a baby.”
It’s hard to understand until you’re there, but I’m sure all the mamas out there will agree–you look back on your old self and think “Wow, I had no idea what life was about. What did I do? What did I care about?”
Now, I’m not saying that having a child becomes the only thing that matters in life and you should drop all careers, friends, and relationships when you become a parent. Absolutely not. Life goes on, and moms make excellent career women and friends. I am saying that your worldviews, your priorities, and the things that keep you up at night change. I know mine did. My world got a whole lot smaller and a lot more beautiful.
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I am responsible for a life. Not during a twelve hour shift, or a few hours here and there, but 24/7. And, it’s not just a physical life. Keeping her physically safe is just the surface of my responsibility. Her daddy and I are in control of shaping her self-esteem, her views on the world around her, the environment she grows up in, how she relates to people, how she learns, what she eats, and so much more.
That kind of responsibility, that kind of power over another human life–it changes you. I am not and never will be the Emily I was before I became a mother. I see so far beyond her, so much deeper into the meaning of what truly matters.
When you become a parent, part of your old self goes away. No matter where you are, or how old they are, your baby will always be in the back of your mind, for the rest of your life (I’m sure the older moms can attest to this.)
But, it’s okay, It’s okay to have that kind of responsibility. I think somewhere along the line our culture decided that responsibility is something to frown upon. We want to be free, able to pick up and travel, go out, do whatever we want whenever we want. I think that kind of thinking misses the point. Because really, the responsibility of parenting a child and being in charge of another person’s well-being brings so much meaning to this thing we call life. It calls you to a higher purpose than yourself, and teaches you to put someone else’s needs above your own needs no matter what.
At this point in my life, motherhood takes just about everything I have. It’s a 24/7, always alert position. Routine is the gold standard for a sixteen month old, and many times that routine takes me away from various activities and social engagements. I don’t get to be quite as fun as I used to, I don’t get to stay out late often, and I don’t get to be as carefree anymore. Guess what though, I’m okay with all of this! This is a short season of life and I get to be the only mama who snuggles that gorgeous baby to sleep at night.
So I’m going to be lame and do it with all the joy in the world, bringing glory to God with each moment. I will proudly say yes, parenthood has changed me, and thank goodness for that! The old selfish Emily didn’t stand a chance at being the mommy I am today. Any of my fellow parents agree? Tell me in the comments!
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