Something funny happened to me when I had my first child. I became a mother, though I didn’t see the full evolution of my new title until after the birth of my second child, which was about the same time I turned thirty, which could also signal a cosmic life shift, though I couldn’t separate the differences between the two and attribute most of my shifts in attitude, personal interests, and body shape to having babies.
While I’ve never been remotely “cool” by any stretch of the imagination, I do remember a time when I was free to explore a wide range of hobbies; buy new, somewhat in-style clothes at will; and think about what I wanted to “do” with my life. My hobbies included crafting nearly every weekend (I was becoming a big sewer/quilter), reading, watching just about every major sporting event, exercising, traveling somewhere once a month, and just chilling with my hubby. There were specific things I wanted as gifts for birthdays and Christmas, and I looked forward to fancy events and spent lots of time in advance planning what I was going to wear, how I was going to style my hair and makeup, who I would see. I saw all of the Oscar contenders at the theater in January and February, anticipated new albums by favorite bands, and could rattle off several of the top books of each year. We ate mostly organic foods, drank an abundant amount of craft beer, and — truthfully — were a little bit bored with the whole thing by the time Nora came along.
While every new parent struggles with a major shift in identity once kids come along, there have been events recently that have really given me pause when I think of how life has changed in just three years. While dressing up for an event yesterday (mind you, I’m no longer working at an office), I couldn’t believe how different my body is and what a challenge it is to dress it. When making lists for the kids for the holidays, I realized that there is not one thing that I actually want for Christmas (though, in true mom fashion, I admit I am pretty taken with scented candles these days!). I also realize I am a completely new demographic for advertisers, who are trying to woo me with Pinterest-related ads and burlap-inspired Christmas decor (which, for the record, is sucking me in!). Oh, and rather than listening to the latest and greatest music (though XPN does help me stay somewhat current) my hubby and I rock out to jazz every night when he gets home from work — it’s amazing how it settles the kids down for some free play.
Life today is about my kids’ extracurricular activities and playdates, how we can plan fun holidays and vacations for them, and what cute clothes I can dress my kids in for a given event. It’s a much different life, but with it brings lots of joy as well. It’s a bit distressing to me when I see articles about how kids make people less happy (which frequently pop up in publications I used to have time to read like the Atlantic or the New York Times). While I don’t want to sound like a martyr, the beauty of parenthood is that a child arrives to change you — to give you more strength, patience, and unconditional love than you have ever experienced before.
So I’ll take my scented candles, mom-centric social media, and weekly meal plans to be the mother to my two adorable kids, though I pledge to not completely lose myself in the process. Steve and I are forcing ourselves to make Christmas lists to get a few nice things for each other this year and I splurged on a pedicure this weekend, so I am avoiding complete unraveling!