Before I became a mom, I never knew what all those women struggling with children at the grocery store or restaurants were really going through. I was that judging individual thinking "why can't they keep their kid quiet?" or "I'll never give my kids a device to keep them busy."
I want to go back in time and slap that young woman who dared to judge other women who had traded in their own lives to assume the role of motherhood. I now understand what a sacrifice it is and I fully support any woman on this journey because it is not an easy road.
However, while you leave a lot behind when you become a mom and take on a whole slew of problems you never even knew existed, there are also some truly beautiful things you can only gain once you enter this crazy territory of motherhood. Things that I personally can't imagine my life without now.
So like many things in life, motherhood is a give and take. Below I've outlined the things I personally have lost and personally gained since becoming a mother, and I am hoping this post does one of two things. Either it helps a woman who is not yet a mother understand the gravity of how being a mother changes one's life, or it helps those of you who are mothers reflect on your own transformation as a mom and gain a new/better appreciation for what you've lost and what you have gained in the process.
A tight stomach
Truth be told, I've never had the stomach I've always wanted; you know, a lean, toned tummy with no need to suck in or wear loose clothing. But before kids, I definitely at least had abdominal muscles that could still hold everything in and I could tell I had some strength and tone there. Now after having two children, my abs are incredibly weak and you can fit a whole finger in between the two sides that are supposed to meet in the middle. Yes, it is very freaky, but it is also very common post-pregnancy (diastasis recti I believe it is called).
There are definitely ways to combat this and some mommas out there proudly sport six packs after having children; I'm just not one of them. And honestly, I am okay with that. But becoming a mother definitely did this to my body, there's no doubt about that.
Time to myself
Time to read, time to watch TV, time to pee without an audience. These are things that just don't happen without A LOT of effort and planning beforehand. Like I may get to do my bible study once a week, but I have to wake up super early before both kids to do so. Or time to watch TV might happen during nap time, but I have to carefully and strategically get them both down for that to happen. And that is not an exact science for me yet. Most days one or both won't sleep and that whole plan just goes out the window.
I've occasionally asked my husband to take the reins in order for me to have some 'me time,' but even that has to coordinate with his schedule and I have to prep for him to have everything he needs for both girls.
Before kids, if I wanted to go run or go shopping, I just did it. No planning, no tiptoeing around someone else's (tumultuous) schedule. After kids, I kind of look at time to myself as a rare gift and when I do get it, I try to soak up every second of it before returning to mom life.
If you are a parent, I am willing to bet on two things: 1) before your first child was born, someone (or many people) told you to sleep now because you won't once you have kids, and 2) now that you have kids, you've said that same thing to someone else who doesn't have any yet.
The reason I'm so confident about these two things? Well, because IT IS TRUE. It's no secret that newborns wake every few hours to eat, but what I never realized before becoming a parent is that even when your baby starts to snooze longer, you still don't sleep as soundly as you did before kids. You are just on high alert all the time now, and even though your eyes are closed and you are having some dreams, you simply don't sleep the way you used to.
I think it is God's way of making sure we are ready to take care of our little ones if need be. It definitely makes for a lot more coffee consumption and some darker circles under the eyes, but it just comes with the territory of parenting!
A tidy house
Before kids, I was a self-proclaimed neat freak. Our sink was always promptly cleaned and no dish ever left overnight, laundry was done right away and never left to mildew for days. I vacuumed and mopped at least once a week; same for cleaning our bathrooms. And everything had it's proper place and always found it's way back there before we went to bed.
Now that we have two little ones inhabiting our home, all of that kind of goes by the wayside. Blankets are all over the floor, toys scattered on tables and under couches, crumbs constantly re-accumulating under the kitchen table. It's messy, to say the least.
I did create a system to break up the cleaning throughout the week so it still gets done, just not all at once (because that is overwhelming), but kids still create messes that we adults have only ever had nightmares of. As a parent, I have had to severely lower my standards for a clean house and learn to embrace the chaos my little mess-makers create.
Motherhood is not all about losing things though. In exchange for the things above that you may have to sacrifice, you will gain some incredible, invaluable, and totally unique things in return.
A new purpose
Since becoming a mom, my life has changed dramatically. The biggest change of all, though, would definitely have to be the reason I get up every morning: to be there unconditionally for my girls. To feed them, change them, play with them, read to them, bathe them, discipline them, and all the other things in between.
Whereas my drive used to be fueled by getting my students test scores up, guiding our volleyball team to a winning record, or running an extra mile on my daily run, now it is all about making my daughters feel taken care of and loved beyond measure. It is a life I never dreamed of for myself, but it is one that has given me more purpose than any other path I've ever taken.
You might think this belongs in the 'losses' section, but as someone who has struggled with a short fuse all of her life, I can honestly say that having children has helped with that shortcoming of mine.
I find myself having the capacity to handle a lot more crazy than I used to because I simply have to. Out of necessity, I have adapted to the pandemonium and frustration that is parenting, and it has made me a much more patient person in general.
One of the truest measures of my patience is the expression on my daughter's face when I handle certain situations. I know if I have been impatient because she looks hurt and a little confused, and that reminds me to be a little more patient the next time. I still don't get it right 100% of the time, but having a little person basically monitor your level of calmness helps tremendously in this department.
Kids require so much; attention, time, nourishment, love. At the end of the day, I often look back and have to really think hard about whether I ate that day or the last time I took a shower. Seriously.
As a parent of little ones who can't fully take care of themselves, you have to be able to forget about your own needs and focus on theirs. And you have to be prepared to do that for hours, even days at a time before you'll get a chance to get your own bearings.
But God equips parents somehow with the ability to do this, and it becomes second nature. And we can always cling to the hope that one day they won't need us as much anymore - although that thought makes me kind of sad rather than hopeful!
Right to act like a kid again
This last gain is my favorite. I feel like I'm as mature as any twenty-seven year old should be, but I won't lie: I occasionally love acting silly and without a care in the world! I guess a person without kids could do this, too, but with kids, it just feel so good to let loose and laugh and pretend right there with them!
And it is so easy to do as there are so many opportunities throughout a day with kiddos to dance to some music, build with blocks, have a tea party, or create things with Play-Doh. My kids both love it when I get down there and act like a kid with them, and I am not even ashamed to tell you that I enjoy it, too! This is truly one of the perks of raising little ones!
Moms out there, can you relate? What other things have you lost or gained since becoming a mother? Please feel free to share in the comments below!