We all know that having babies makes our lives different. Less time to ourselves and more hours spent taking care of a baby’s practical needs. Our bodies shift up or down, and our stomach muscles even separate. But what’s been most interesting to me is not the changes I expected, but the ones I didn’t. The way motherhood has changed me from the inside out without any effort on my own part. Just the natural way of things.
You can just look at my resume for the stay at home mom to see how I’ve changed, but here’s even more ways.
1. I grew up
I am a “lonely only” so, I’ll admit, I was always a tad more mature for my age. An old soul, they say. Even so, motherhood has made me grow up more than any other event in my life. “Today I’d like to do x…” oh well. Forget about it. “But I don’t feel like waking up today.” Yeah well, get over it. Of course we still need to look after our own sanity and mental health, but we mothers are often forced to put aside the immature desires by sheer necessity. And the beauty of this is that, day after day, many immature wants and desires simply fall away to make room for what really matters.
2. The intangibles of life matter more
I don’t think I’ve ever been a terribly superficial person, but even less so as a mother. Children are truly a gift and motherhood is a privilege to me, and in light of that many material and superficial things I once focused on now simply have no place in my life. Or if they do, it’s a very small place in comparison. I’ll shop if I need clothes, but am not wardrobe obsessed. I’ll buy something pretty if I want it, but the pursuit of possessions doesn’t consume my thoughts. Being a mother has a way of showing you the truly important things in life, and most of those can’t be bought.
3. My #1 thought isn’t about having a good time
A few weeks ago my friends took me out for surprise birthday desserts and drinks. It was such a special night and I felt very loved! On the way back to our cars we had to pass through the pub/club portion of the place and we all had a good laugh about how our night life was now non-existent. Ten years ago (or even 5 years ago) we might have gone out every Friday or Saturday night. At the forefront of our minds was having a good time or being out and about.
Now, I still love a nice night out, a weekend away, or a fun concert. But my mindset is no longer one of “working for the weekend,” where the goal is to have a good time. Fridays and Saturdays may pass with nothing more exciting than a trip to the park or playground. And honestly, that’s okay with me right now.
4. Focus becomes longer-term
Youthful immaturity (a phase no one skips, mind you) often focuses on the short-term. Instant gratification, immediate results, finding happiness and satisfaction now. The average 20-year-old isn’t thinking of long-term investments or settling down. Motherhood has a way of bringing out the nurture and caring instinct that looks past today into the future.
We make decisions for the benefit of our children’s futures. We often make them unhappy now because we know it’s for their own good. We save for college. We sacrifice things for them when appropriate. Without even meaning to, we see today in light of our children’s futures, and we try to help nurture and care for them so they have lifelong fruit. And we sacrifice many things in the short-term for the long-term benefit of our family.
5. It’s no longer about being “seen”
I can’t say I’ve ever been a flashy or trendy dresser, but I was still a young lady. I still wanted to see and be seen. Oh the teenage years! Oh the early twenties! Why stay in when you can go out? When you would get all fancy schmancy even if you were only going to a girlfriend’s house. Because maybe, just maybe, that’d somehow turn into an opportunity to be seen. Now I’ll do my hair or wear makeup if the bags under my eyes scare me. I still try to look put together, but I don’t do it because I want to be “seen.” I do it because it’s just something you do as a grown up. Mothers don’t adopt the yoga pants uniform because they think it’s the hot Fall/Winter 2015 style. They do it for comfort.
There are so so many ways motherhood changes us. I didn’t even mention body changes because that’s a whole other can of worms. Even though I feel so different from the Rachel of 4 years ago, I like the changes motherhood has brought out in me. I like thinking of others before myself. I like feeling the protective instinct because it reminds me God has given me little ones to protect. He didn’t have to.
What surprising ways has motherhood changed you?