They say motherhood changes you.
When I was pregnant these were the words of wisdom that were most often passed on to me by others who had traveled the road before me.
Motherhood will change you.
I nodded my head in agreement, pretending I knew exactly I was in for. But truth is, I had no idea what that really meant. No one ever actually explained to me how this change would present itself.
I almost half expected this momentous change in myself the moment I gave birth. A big fanfare introducing me to my new life as they handed me my baby.
Truth is while my life did change quickly and drastically, the change in myself has been more of a gradual and evolving process and I don’t think I’m even close to being done.
I never expected to feel as intensely as I do now that I’m a mother. I love with an intensity that is palpable. At times, the emotion can’t be contained and it erupts inside of me and it finds its way out of my body through the tears that stream down my face confusing my children. Why are you crying mummy, they’ll often ask. They are tears of love, I reply. The fear that greets me when they are sick or when they disappear from my sight for a moment too long when we are out in a crowd causes my heart to beat so hard that I’m sure it is visible through my chest. The pride that warms my soul when they do something unexpectedly kind for someone else. My emotions have never been so overpowering and all-consuming. This must be what they mean, I think to myself often, this must be motherhood changing me.
I slowly began to care so much more while at the same time caring so much less. Things that used to matter to me suddenly became so unimportant while thoughts I had never even imagined began to occupy my mind. I began to care less about what others thought about me and began to care more about how I was living my life and how my choices would impact my family.
As a planner by nature, my life has always been spent worrying about the next step in my plan, the next part of my journey. I am goal oriented which means I am always working towards something and never really focused on the moment. My children’s baby days were awash in worry. I worried that my house wasn’t clean enough and that my kids weren’t getting enough sleep. I worried about their first steps and first words and I lost so much of my time with them to uncertainty and fear. As the years speed by, I have learned to focus on their smile, to listen to their worlds and to snuggle in a little closer as often as possible. The reality that this time with them is not forever has smacked me and made me slow down. This pace doesn’t come naturally to me and sometimes I forget but my children usually have a way of reminding me that I’m moving too fast for them. As the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months, I am learning to be happy in the moment and not to put so much focus on what is coming next because the right now is so beautiful.
It was after I lost my cool one evening. I was burnt out. I was running on no sleep and had a long week at work. I needed some time alone. Just a few minutes to gather myself while my kids just needed some of my time. I yelled and I immediately regretted it. After putting the kids to bed, I beat myself up and convinced myself that I was failing at this motherhood thing.
The next morning, when my kids woke me up with cuddles, I smothered them with kisses and told them I was sorry. They still loved me. I messed up, I made a mistake and they still loved me. It was then that I slowly began the process of loving myself, the good, the bad and the ugly. My mistakes are all just a part of my journey and they do not make me unlovable. Experiencing real self-love is so freeing and I have my children to thank for that.
The moment my first baby came into this world my journey began. Motherhood is a never ending path. A path that is winding its way through this world and teaching me so many life changing lessons along the way. I am forever changed but I have just begun my adventure. There is still so much for me to learn and there are still so many ways for me to grow. I am gaining patience, strength and courage while I am learning the peace that comes with letting go of guilt, resentment and the need to always come out ahead.
I know that by the time I reach the end of my path I will be a much different person than I am today and I can’t wait to get to know that woman.
What would I pass on to the new mothers who are about to embark on their journey? Welcome to motherhood, it will change you.
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