Before I was even pregnant I had a conversation with a woman who I had just met and was going to take my blood as part of a blood drive. I remember two main points during that conversation:
1.) This woman I had known for 5 minutes not only decided I was naive because I was planning my wedding and thinking about my eventual family but she also thought it appropriate and necessary to tell me so (if the blood bank is wondering – this donation didn’t go all that great and had the added bonus of an unwanted conversation resulting in my failure to return for donation).
2.) She confidently stated children change nothing and having two children of her own she must be the expert on the matter, at least she was over my (at the time) childless self.
Now that my daughter is starting to celebrate all of her seconds (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) I can confidently say that I think the lady trying to impart her knowledge and experience on such a young naive girl was the exception to the rule.
I will give her that I am the same basic person but that is the line I draw in relating to her. My life has dramatically changed in the following ways, some of which I am sure some of you can relate:
1.) Laundry – in my life BB (before baby) if something was stained it was probably going to get a huge dose of shout and be tossed. But today I almost enjoy stain fighting. It is so liberating to feel confidant that I can save that shirt or that baby blanket. Sometimes I want to buy the stained shirt from a garage sale not because I like the shirt but because I love the challenge. Previously I shared by recipe for laundry soap, stain fighting is no different in the sense that I use household items that are safer (and less expensive than) commercial brands. The natural stain treatment reference sheet from wellnessmama.com (http://wellnessmama.com/3615/natural-stain-treatment-reference-sheet/) is hanging in my laundry room and has helped as a quick guid for all sorts of stains. I also like to soak clothing with vomit, major blow out, spit up and just about any food stain other than tomato in HOT water with some dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. I usually let it soak for 30 minutes to a full day before throwing the laundry in the wash.
2.) And on a more serious note, I fear the same things but it has become intensified and constant. I often say that the world became scarier when I found out I was pregnant and even more so after my daughter was born. Not that the threats are really much different or any more likely, there are just more people that every thing impacts.
3.) I never turn off. I don’t think my husband understands what I mean when I tell him that I never get a break. He sometimes will retort in frustration – “you just went shopping with out the baby”. While I appreciate the ‘me time’ it really isn’t me time any more. Even without ‘the baby’ right there I am constantly thinking and worrying about her. ‘Did I pack enough food’? ‘Does she miss me’? ‘Did I pack extra clothes’? ‘Is she eating’? – these are thoughts rushing through my mind on a normal day, imagine an overnight (is she wondering why I am not rocking her to sleep, will she be scared if she wakes and I am not there?) or if she not herself because she had a cold or was teething. I realize this is more about me than it is about her but it exists nonetheless. Have you experienced this? How do you cope – I have come to the conclusion that to some extent my off switch will be broken for the rest of my life so coping is all I got.
4.) My friendships have changed – while my 20 something single friends are excited about the new significant other in his or her life I am busy being excited because my 13 month old slept the whole night in her bed, took a few steps, learned a new sign, or pooped in the potty. The two things that make this hard for my friendships, I have been dating or married to my husband for 9 years in February and I have genuinely never been so excited about anything as I was when my daughter poo-pooed in the potty. I have forgotten what it is like to date someone new and I still have the good sense to realize that non-parent friends will not be excited about our bathroom accomplishments – and that is when I have a moment when I say to myself ‘and this is my life’ in a grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side tone. None of this really matters except it leads to a bigger issue of I don’t know how to relate to people as myself any more. I am too busy beaming with pride that my daughter is crawling faster, pulling herself up, and generally doing other things that babies her age just do. All of our friends have been such troopers, and so good with our baby – especially my husbands friends, she basically has an extra network of uncles built in with them and we are so blessed for that.
5.) My life is more focused. I don’t have time to ‘wait for my life to start’ any more. I have started making plans, crafting, and doing things I have always wanted to do. You would think that after having a baby is when you would play it safe and stick to the status quo but I find that her little eyes upon me are pushing me to develop the person I am and lead by example. I remember one time when I was younger my mom having to put 5 things in a paper bag about her, I remember the exercise being a little hard. She was a stay at home mom who had dedicated everything to her children and sometimes lost herself just a little. I always want 5 things to put in that bag especially if my daughter decides not to have a family – if my example was only about the family how will she know how to be who she is and work to fulfill her dreams?
There are probably a million more ways I could point out that I have changed, I haven’t mentioned my body, my relationship with my husband, or my relationship with my family. And I am sure there are still things I will discover about my life AB. What changes have you experienced after having children?