Embracing life as a mom was no easy feat for me after my first son was born. I loved Luke immensely right away, yet I didn’t love being a mom. I was tired and felt vulnerable and exposed. I didn’t know what I was doing and I felt like I was being judged for it. Even though I prepared as thoroughly as I could, I realized caring for a baby comes down to a lot of guesswork and trial and error.
In the weeks after Luke was born, I researched postpartum depression. Although I didn’t fit the criteria, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I just wasn’t happy. I felt guilty that I didn’t absolutely LOVE my new life as a mom.
Looking back I chalk it up to two things:
First, hormones are raging postpartum and feeling the so-called “Baby Blues” is a normal part of having a baby. It’s common to cry and feel overwhelmed.
Second, Luke was a very colicky baby. He cried so much that I would see the shape of his screaming mouth in my dreams at night. I’m not joking. I would look at his ear and it would look like his quivering lips.
As the early weeks of Luke’s life become more and more distant, I’ve learned that there’s a much more significant reason why becoming a mom was hard. And that is that your identity completely changes when you become a mom. Your sense of self changes so dramatically as your sole purpose shifts to meeting your children’s needs while often neglecting your own.
While I knew life would revolve around the baby when he arrived, and I was overjoyed at the thought of having my own bundle of joy, the magnitude of how this actually affects your life cannot be predicted. You can only guess what things will be like.
In my case, the early weeks had their challenges as we figured out our new life as a family. Things eventually settled into place and life with a baby became our new normal. But as time went on and we welcomed our second baby boy I realized that a little part of me is gone forever. The me who could spend a couple hours perusing Target with a Starbucks in hand without a care in the world. The me who could wake up early and walk the dog or go to the gym. The me who could play kickball every Thursday night with my friends. The me who can have a weekend getaway with friends and the only planning required is figuring out who will watch the dog.
Sure, I get glimpses into my old life once in a while, but life will never come close to what it was before kids. The things that used to bring me joy are replaced by the joy I get from my children, and my heart is so full of adoration for my boys that it literally aches when I’m away from them or even when I think about them growing up.
So when my friends thinking about having kids ask me if it’s worth it, I tell them the truth. A part of you will be gone forever once you become a mom. But the person you will become is stronger, fuller, more loving, more patient. You’ll be tested a lot and you’ll certainly lose your temper a time or two, but you’ll persevere, and you’ll get a big lesson in what it means to be selfless and humble while you’re at it.
I can happily say that I have grown to absolutely love being a mom. I love the slow pace of my life, the easy meals that consist of dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and boxed macaroni and cheese, the laughs over the silliest things my toddler says and does and the wide grin I get from my baby whenever I look his way.
It’s a different life. But it’s better. It’s full, it’s meaningful and it just feels good. There are bad days when I want to go find a rock to crawl under, but that’s life. With the good comes the bad, as with anything.
It took me some time to settle into mom life, but now that I have, I don’t miss the old “me” one bit. I’m learning that life offers up a series of identity changes, and some take more time to embrace than others. For me, motherhood took some getting used to. But now that I’m getting the hang of it I wouldn’t trade this “me” for the world.