I’ve experienced a lot of things in my life that have changed me, but nothing has changed me as deeply as motherhood.
From the day I found out I was pregnant with my first baby to the day I die, motherhood will always be molding me, shaping me, teaching me. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of ways motherhood changes you, each one better than the last.
Motherhood makes you soft. As soon as that little person enters your life, you’re almost instantly more sensitive, emotional, and empathetic. Even if you were tough as nails growing up, motherhood will soften you. I used to never cry during movies, but now I can’t watch a single Disney movie without tearing up. And forget about watching the news. Hearing about other people suffering and knowing that those people are someone’s children turns me into a blubbering mess.
But motherhood also makes you tough. You get your toes stepped on, eyes poked, and hair pulled. You get yelled at, called names, and food spilled on you. You wipe bums, noses, and vomit from the floor without even flinching. You become resilient, strong, and immune to things that would’ve made a younger you fall apart.
Motherhood changes your body. You grow and feed babies, get stretch marks and wrinkles, and lose your hair and your mind. Your body might look a little saggier after being a mother, but you also realize that it can create and sustain life. You learn to appreciate your body and all it has given you, both for yourself and for your children who are watching and learning from your example.
Motherhood teaches you how to survive on less sleep. Sure, you may have been getting only a few hours of sleep when you were young, too, but those few hours of sleep weren’t frequently interrupted by babies crying to be fed, toddlers and preschoolers wetting the bed, or older children having nightmares. Not to mention that you’re staying up later and waking up earlier to do chores you can’t do when the kids are awake or get in that much needed “me” time you’ve been yearning for. You also learn the importance of caffeine, diet, and exercise in keeping your energy levels up during the day (especially caffeine!).
Motherhood makes you selfless. Every day you’ll face things you don’t want to do but will because you love your kids. You’ll fill your time serving your children instead of yourself. Laundry, dishes, cleaning, cooking, picking up toys, making beds, watching stupid TV shows about talking animals who save the world, listening to the Moana soundtrack in the car every single day, and choosing things your kids want to do over things you want to do. You’ll serve and serve and serve with no thought of reward.
Motherhood makes you more forgetful. With every pregnancy, every child you have, your memory will slip more and more. I’m not sure if it’s because you have more things going on and more to keep track of, or if motherhood literally makes you lose your mind. Either way, keeping a planner and a to-do list is incredibly important as a mother.
Motherhood makes you better at multi-tasking. Ever tried to pack a school lunch while also helping your child learn lines for a school program while at the same time feeding your toddler breakfast? It almost becomes second-nature as a mother. You’ll learn to manage ongoing projects and how to hack your chores so you can get more done in less time.
Motherhood makes you more patient. You spend hours waiting on your children to get their shoes on, buckle up, brush their teeth, put their clothes on, or do anything that you ask them to. They’re small and still learning, so it’s understandable that it takes them longer, but it definitely makes you more patient than before having kids.
Motherhood makes you less judgmental. Before having kids, you may have a long list of things you think you’ll never do as a mother because pre-kid you thinks they make you a “bad parent.” After having kids, you’ll learn that screen time isn’t the worst thing in the world and it’s okay to let your kids make a mess or cry in public. You won’t judge the mom at Target for flipping through a magazine in the checkout line while her child throws a tantrum on the ground. You’ll understand why a parent at the zoo has their toddler on a leash and even if you wouldn’t do it yourself, you won’t judge them for it. You learn that we all mother differently, and there isn’t any correct way to parent a child, because all children and all mothers are different.
Motherhood changes your priorities. Sitting down at the table for a hot meal as soon as you cook it, taking long showers and an hour to get ready in the morning, and getting in a quick afternoon nap before dinner all go out the window when you have your first child. You learn that you care more about serving your kids their lunch and making sure they have enough ketchup than eating your lunch while it’s hot. You learn to shower at night, wash your hair every few days, and how to style it and do your makeup in five minutes so you look semi-put together before heading to school drop-off. And taking a nap becomes a rare gift that you only miss on days when you have the chance to snuggle with your kid during their nap time. Your priorities change for the better, and you learn and grow because of it.
Motherhood teaches you how to tune things out. Kids can be loud and annoying, and as a mother, you’ll have to be able to tune things out or you’ll lose your mind. As a result, you’ll be less irritable when someone sings the same song over and over or keeps tapping their pencil on the table during homework time. Either you’re mastering the art of blocking out chaos or you’re losing your hearing along with your mind (the jury’s still out on this one).
Motherhood makes you more confident in your decisions. As you get deeper into motherhood, you learn to stop worrying about what other people think about the way you parent. You stop worrying about the little things because you know you love your children and will always do what’s best for them, even if that looks different than what another mom does. You trust your intuition and follow through when you think something might be off.
Motherhood gives you more adventure and spontaneity in your life. Kids come up with some crazy, wild ideas, and sometimes, it’s fun to just go with it! You’ll pretend a family walk is a mission through the jungle, have dance parties in the living room, and go get ice cream “just because.”
Motherhood grows your heart and fills you with love. With each child that’s born, your heart expands and makes room for you to love another person with every fiber of your being. I don’t know how it works, but somehow, you fill up with even more love than you thought was possible. Sometimes it takes a few days or weeks after your baby is born, but when it hits, it’s magical.
Motherhood makes you more aware of good and evil. You see the inherent good in your child, the joy when they learn new things, the love when you didn’t think you could love them even more. But you’ll also become hyperaware of all the evil in the world that has the potential to harm your child. Intolerance, addictive substances, greed, peer pressure, corruption, immorality. You do everything you can to teach them right, raise them right, love them right, but at the end of the day, they have to make their own choices, and that’s terrifying.
Motherhood gives you perspective. The good days always outweigh the bad. You think about the future in terms of your children’s lives, who they’ll become, and how you are shaping them right now. You care about how your government is run and about the laws that are being made that will impact your children, now and in the future. The way you look at the world shifts. You see things through the eyes of a mother and realize that everybody is someone’s child.
Motherhood is a lifelong roller coaster filled with the lowest lows and the highest highs, and I am grateful for every wet, messy, painful, wonderful, magical, busy minute of it. Motherhood has absolutely changed me, but I wouldn’t change a minute of my motherhood experience.