I’ve been a parent for over a year, and I’ve started to reflect on how significantly my life has changed. Oh wow, it’s a lot! People had warned me that everything would change, including my outlook on life and how I lived. I had no idea. Now I understand. It does change everything: my goals, my lifestyle, and my relationships. I don’t think there has been a more profound life event, one that affected me mentally and physically, as much as parenting.
Here are 16 of the significant ways I’ve changed since becoming a parent:
As a mother, my emotions have been crazy. For starters, your body is experiencing a lot of changes after giving birth, and you now have the responsibility of keeping two tiny humans alive; mothering is a very stressful and demanding job. Let’s face it, no matter how helpful a Dad can be; nothing replaces a child’s mother. This is especially true if you are breastfeeding, which I did. When you give your everything to someone else it’s emotionally and physically draining. I even find myself getting emotional at being emotional.
As they grow, my heart seems to rejoice and break continually. I’m so proud of the twins’ growth and accomplishments, but with each new one, they become less and less of my babies. The worst is when they’re crying, it just seems to drive me crazy. It’s hard not to feel unbalanced at times. But then they smile, and it makes me feel pretty awesome. It’s hard not to constantly feel an incredible love for them and often from them. As I said before, these emotions don’t always make sense, but are a large part of being a mother.
NEED FOR ORDER AND CONSTANT CLEANING
I can’t stand clutter. I feel like it’s everywhere and it’s driving me insane. Before the late stages of pregnancy, this wasn’t an issue. I didn’t mind a little clutter, the small piles on the countertop; but now I can’t stand it. I see houses of people without kids and sigh, miss the ability to keep my home presentable, or even less chaotic. So now I’m always cleaning something – the floor, the dishes, clothes, you name it. Seriously though, I don’t know how two little people can make such a mess (I’m told they can get messier as the get older). I’m not sure how I am going to handle that chaos, but I’ll just have to find a way to adapt and embrace it.
LOSS OF CONTROL
Many times I feel like I can’t control anything. Nothing seems predictable, regardless of keeping a tight schedule with the kids – which is almost essential with twins. Before kids, my life was pretty predictable. Now however, I regularly encounter new situations. Letting go of control is difficult, but sometimes it’s necessary to stay sane.
LONGING FOR COMMUNITY
I like to think I am an extroverted introvert. I am ok with being alone for periods of time. Actually, I like it! However, I liked it more when I didn’t have kids. More than ever I appreciate adult conversation and company. It is a nice change from baby talk and helps me feel involved in other areas of life than just kids. In this new season of parenthood, I appreciate the fact that others are going through the same stuff I am going through, or have gone through something similar. The parenting community brings that.
It seems these days I need to plan out everything. Babies need schedules. With twins, it is quite strict to keep them on the same feeding and sleeping schedule. It is important to do this as it cuts down time. Imagine one twin napping and the other not. There would never be any breaks. So I plan our days and try and prepare in advance. This was essential, especially in the early baby days.
Also, simply leaving the house takes a lot of planning.It takes strategy and careful coordination, and it’s super stressful. Honestly, in the beginning, it would take me at least 2 hours to get ready and out the door and even then I would usually forget something, or get overwhelmed, cry, and just want to give up. It’s a miracle that I got out at all. Gone are the days of just deciding to do something and going out and doing it like I did pre-parenthood.
USE OF FIRST PERSON WHILE TALKING
Seriously, when did I start saying “Mama needs to go to the washroom, stay here.” or, “Mama loves you.” Why don’t I speak in the first person anymore? It seems like the day you become a parent is a day you take on a new identity, this Mama character. At least it’s not as weird as saying “Ashleigh needs to go to the washroom, stay here.” Yeah, that would be a little creepy.
I’d give up a lot for my children. They have become first priority, and everything has now become reprioritized. Before parenting my husband was the primary recipient of my attention, but now I do everything for them before thinking about myself and others. in fact, my day revolves around their schedule and needs. I just don’t think about myself much anymore. I’ve never put myself aside so much before being a mother. But I don’t believe this is wrong, my children are precious to me, and I sacrifice what I need to care for them. My husband and I will often give up something we want to provide something they require. And I gladly do it too. It’s not something done in anguish but love. Don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining and don’t assume I get nothing in return; I get lots of super baby love, times two, and I totally understand how parents can give up their lives up for their children. To give is second nature and I don’t expect much in return. What other relationship than parent and child compares? But I am learning the importance of still giving to those around me, my husband in particular; and that there is such thing as a healthy dose of self-love. I just haven’t figured out what that looks like.
VIEW OF SLEEP
Sleep used to be just something I would need to do every night. I very rarely felt overwhelmingly tired other than when I would be sick. At least then I could sleep as long as my body needed to recover. The bliss that is sleep is no longer a companion of mine, and I long to sleep in till whenever I want. If banking sleep while I was younger and not pregnant or a parent were a possibility, I would have invested in that in a heartbeat, knowing what I know now and being so sleep deprived.
In the early days of parenting my twins, I was a zombie, it’s true. I have a hard time even remembering early days of the twins lives. It’s sad but the first eight months was some weird memory sucking, sleep-deprived period, that still has a lasting effect. I wish I could recall my time with the twins more, but honestly, it’s hard to pull up those memories in a time that was so hard to get through. I never want to experience that kind of lack of sleep again, though I know that throughout my parenting journey I will continue to have my fair share of sleepless nights, days, and or weeks. Now even though the twins sleep better, not great, but longer at night, I am more awake.
Heaven help me if I stay up past 10, that is something that does not come without consequences as I drag myself out of bed in the morning.
I think most parents want to be the best they can be for their child. I find that I am also trying to become more aware of my thoughts and feelings. I try to relay positive ones for my kids, and I try to put importance on making my life one of worth and happiness. Sometimes this self-reflection can become unhealthy especially when I am tired or having a rough day and feel like I am not a good enough parent or wife. It can lead to me being hard on myself. So to counterbalance that, it is nice when my husband or someone else reminds me of my worth or that I am doing a good job.
There are always things people tend to be uncomfortable doing in front of others. For me, one of those is singing. I don’t know when I started to feel that way, but I don’t generally sing in front of others. Having kids has thrown that right out the window, I now sing wherever and whenever my children want or need me to sing to them. Parenthood has a way of making you step out of your comfort zone. I breastfed around others also, and it didn’t matter to me. Exposing myself in that way around anyone but my husband is not something I would do, but as a mother, it’s less about exposing yourself in a sexual manner and all about the natural and incredible beauty that is nourishing your children. I also don’t care as much about looking fabulous, if I can shower and get dressed, it’s a good day. If I have a stain on my shirt, well, it’s ok, it’s spit-up and/or drool and or a whole bunch of kid-related gunk; maybe even poop, who knows! I embrace the gross now…for the most part.
I’ve been pretty lucky though-out my life to have a pretty positive and healthy body image. I have never really been disappointed in how I look, but I do have a healthy awareness of it. I have never been over-weight. Even through pregnancy, I thought I looked pretty good, I didn’t put on much fat, and I was mostly all baby weight. After giving birth, I shed the pounds quickly while breastfeeding two, that eats up a lot of calories a day! I was super happy that I was losing it all so effortlessly. I felt blessed to get rid of that extra weight that was hanging around after birth. Fast forward to a year after losing it all, and I am up in weight after stopping breastfeeding and my stomach though not noticeable in stretch marks has excess skin that makes me look larger than I am. A part of the weight is, I believe, some muscle, as I lift and squat two 22 pound babies several times a day. However I am not satisfied with it, so I mourn my old body, and I know I will not have the same tight body I use to have before carrying twins. On top of that, like many mums, I just don’t have the energy or time to go to a gym. I look forward to the summer and getting out to walk off the extra pounds with the kids and dog…hopefully.
I’m sore, and I seem to have aged significantly since giving birth to my twins. It’s practically something every day that hurts. So much so that I have tried massage, physiotherapy and acupuncture. Seems that carrying around children and bending up and down so much takes its wear and tear the body. Besides physically being worn out I am also on many days, ok, pretty much all days, especially at the end of the day, mentally worn out. I just wish to do nothing, absolutely nothing that requires effort by the end of the day. I also am quite often worn out emotionally. All in all, I often feel like a hot mess.
I find happiness in different things now. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to do a lot of what I used to; especially watching tv with my husband, just zoning out, but now there are new enjoyments added to that. For instance, watching my children get along, play, and learn new things. I like to just get out of the house, something I would have never thought of as indulgent before. Simpler things, everyday things, are more appreciated and enjoyed. I enjoy a shower way more, the ability to sit down for a meal even and not having to relinquish half of it to my children because they want to eat from Mama’s plate. It’s the little things now that bring me joy, things I wouldn’t have considered before being a parent.
There is a new sense of fulfilment in my life. If my children hit some milestone or grow in any way, it doesn’t get much better than that! Caring, loving, and nurturing another person so fully is an amazing feeling and an accomplishment. I understand why raising children is a full-time job and how you can get so much daily from it, even though it can be taxing. I also know that seeing a human, in my case two at a time, grow and become something greater each day is fantastic and it’s more than I could have imagined. There is something really wonderful about teaching your child something and them getting it. Previously being a teacher, I used to feel so great when my students would understand something, but with my own kids now, it feels even more satisfying. The ability to invest in someone else’s life so fully is a gift. I smile more than I ever have before and a lot of it is because my children are so amazing to me, and I can’t wait to see who they become in life. The act of being a mum is gratifying; it brings a whole new meaning to life.
There is no such thing as free time; it ceases to exist. Since the day the twins were born it feels like I have not stopped. Parenting is a 24/7 job, and it’s great; but seriously, at this point in my parenting journey, I have yet to get time for any of my previous pre-parenting hobbies. No time to sit down at a canvas and paint, those colouring books for relaxation are gathering dust, the movies remain on the shelves, and the books I have meant to get around to look sad tucked under my nightstand. Honestly, I have good intentions with my free time, but most of it I spend trying to catch up on some sleep or housework. Other parents say it gets better. I am hoping that they aren’t just trying to make me feel good about one day gaining some self-focused time. Time seems to dissipate as quickly as it appears. Truthfully, it just illudes me every time I make an effort to be self-focused. When the kids are older, I am sure I may look back and laugh, but right now I just long for some dedicated free time.
Going from just my husband and me to two babies brought change to our marriage. Our life that once revolved around just our relationship now factors in two very needy people. Our relationship just isn’t nurtured the way it used to be, and it was to be expected as there is very little time left in our schedule by the end of the day. However, there is an upside to it as well. We now have a new bond that we share in having children, and we relate to each other in new ways. That said, boy am I happy my husband is my best friend. Otherwise with the lack of sleep, time and attention to our relationship, we could have ended up having some real issues in the early days of our twins’ lives.
Our social life as a whole since becoming parents has taken a nose dive, though. It’s just hard when being on a baby’s schedule to work in much else, and when your child needs to be in bed before seven there is not much else to do but stay home, unless you have a babysitter come and keep and eye on them. Truthfully though, I just am too tired to do much of anything. Also, when all the events that are going on are adult only, it’s a bit hard not to be left out.
Family relations have changed as well. Unlike friendships, I find that family has tended to gain closeness with interest in the children. Also, more people want to know what’s happening in our lives and there is more communication.
In what ways has parenting changed your life the most? I’d love to know, feel free to leave a comment below!