#REBELTHROWBACK (Originally posted October 12, 2014)
We’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic these days over here on Team Rebel Mama, so we decided that the only logical thing to do would be to hit you with a little #TBT from our early motherhood days. I wrote this piece when my son was just about 7-months-old. I’d long gotten over the initial Holy-Shit-I-Have-To-Keep-This-Thing-Alive shock; everyone in the house was sleeping through the night (hallelujah!), and I was finally able to articulate the amazing/unexpected changes that motherhood had brought to my life. Reading it again all these months later made me smile – hopefully it will have a similar effect on you.
If you are a female, who has female friends, then at some point in your life, you have likely heard a woman say, “having children is the best thing that’s ever happened to me“. While I always kind of thought this was a bizarre statement (especially if it was piggy backed on some horror story about hand foot and mouth disease or a precious iPhone getting flushed down the toilet), I never actively questioned it’s validity. Looking back, this is probably because I was just waiting for this portion of the conversation to be OVER. Even now that I am a mother, nothing bores me more than abstract chit-chat about the so-called joys of motherhood. I prefer fact; reason; reality; the cold hard truth. Which is why this post was conceived.
The truth is, motherhood really has changed me for the better. I have become more responsible, healthier, more empathetic, less selfish, I feel great, and dare I say, I even look better (what? I didn’t say I’m more humble!). But HOW? How is that all even possible with less sleep, less contact with the outside world, more responsibility, more poop to clean up and more puke on my clothes? Well I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and here’s what I have come up with: Having a child has made me a better person by default. Someone once said that if you want to change your life, change your priorities. For me, that’s exactly what it’s boiled down to. Now, since I would never leave you with such a vague phrase without providing supplementary evidence, here are some examples of what I’m talking about:
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a (wo)man healthy, wealthy and wise” – sound familiar? I’ve heard it for years but it never resonated enough to inspire me to not hit snooze on my alarm clock morning after morning… That is, until I got a human alarm clock that (unfortunately) doesn’t have a snooze function and is programmed to wake up at the crack of dawn. But you know what? Those wacky early risers were right; morning really is a sacred time of day. It’s quiet, it’s calm, and the lighting is fabulous. There is no better time to reflect on yesterday and set a calm tone for today. And you know what happens when you wake up early? By 10pm you can’t hold your fucking eyes open so you go to bed, WHICH IS AWESOME! If you had told me 2 years ago that 10pm-6am would be my prime sleeping time, I would have thrown my vodka soda at you…. But times have changed and I actually never feel tired during the day. It’s a miracle.
Related to the early wake up time (in conjunction with the fact that I have no obligation to be anywhere at any particular time in the day) I am able to execute a pretty great morning routine, which includes (but is not limited to) snuggling with the baby in bed for 45min, then getting up, making coffee and a huge, healthy breakfast while the baby goes wild in his bouncy chair. I’ve always been big on breakfast, but maternity leave has definitely refined my morning meal making skills. And you know what gives you sustained energy, revs your metabolism, and motivates you to keep eating well throughout the day? A MASSIVE HEALTHY BREAKFAST! WOOT WOOT!
I never thought that I would ever say this sentence… But… Breastfeeding has actually contributed to the overall improvement of my life (I know. WTF. It even felt weird typing it. But it’s true!). Since I know that whatever I put in my body ends up in my baby’s milk, I have become even more health conscious than I was before. I’m adamant about eating organic foods where possible, trying to consume at least 2 items of produce at every meal, getting my omegas, healthy fats and fiber in as frequently as possible, and just generally being aware of what’s going down the hatchet. I also consume WAY less alcohol and drink WAY more water (for some reason, nursing makes you feel like you’re on a camel wading through the desert at all times – I have never known such intense thirst). This alone will make you look and feel healthier. But there’s also the added bonus to breastfeeding of burning approximately 500 calories a day JUST BY PRODUCING MILK. That’s right. 500 calories. Hello skinny jeans, my old friends. (I feel like some of you just had an epiphany about why women are so gung-ho about this whole ‘babies’ thing).
I walk. I walk A LOT. I walk because I’m bored and can’t sit around the house for hours on end without losing my mind completely. So guess what, I accidentally get at least an hour of cardio every day just trying to kill time until the baby’s next nap! Talk about a win/win situation.
When you have a kid, making social plans is such a bitch that it very quickly makes you realize who really matters to you. For example, before kids, a moderately annoying acquaintance bugs you to go for drinks with her a couple weekends in a row. Finally you cave. While it was a bit of a waste of time and energy, you had some time and energy to spare, so no biggie. Different story when you have a kid. The amount of energy it takes to arrange for a babysitter, pump breast milk, organize all the baby’s stuff, THEN get yourself ready and out the door has made me extremely picky as to who I make the time to go out with. Yes, it’s a huge pain in the ass, but my social life has become much more concise and I now only spend time with people who I genuinely like. Getting rid of “sorta-friends” has been a MAJOR perk of motherhood.
I am a lean, mean, cleaning machine. I have always been a pretty tidy adult (I was an adolescent DISASTER though) but oh man, ever since I had a baby, my cleaning skills are next level. I think it has something to do with the limited amount of time I have to get shit done. You know when you get home from work and have a 30min window to clean your house before your friend comes over and you can’t believe how efficient you can be when you have a cleaning deadline? Well, welcome to my life now. Except instead of a social engagement providing the timeline, it’s the dreaded end of nap time.
Multitasking. I was pretty good at it before but now I am a bloody expert. Not only am I able to do a million things at once, I have also discovered that literally anything you thought required the use of both your hands only REALLY requires one, a little finesse and a lot of patience.
I guess it would also be useful to discuss the positive emotional effects becoming a mother has had on me. First, there’s empathy. Having a baby has made me see every person as somebody’s child. Violence, discrimination, bullying, and harassment all make me absolutely ill, because I see them all as happening to people who were born just as innocent and just as perfect as my little boy. I have also become less selfish and more disciplined. You see, having a child means having to develop and (here’s the hard part) stick to a pretty mundane routine. No more spontaneous days exploring the city or spur of the moment girls nights; it’s sleep, eat, play, repeat… All day, every day. But that’s what it takes to make a baby feel safe, secure, loved and happy, so that’s just what you do – plain and simple – there’s a new king in town and he’s about 2ft tall.
I think above all else, what makes people boldly declare that having a child is the best thing that has ever happened to them, is that babies are incredibly adept at humbling their parents. My son has forced me to face the fact that I often don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but for the first time in my life, I know without a doubt that I’m doing my best, because I’m doing it for him.
Elite Daily thought this post was pretty cool, so they wanted it on their site too! Check it out HERE
Has motherhood accidentally made you a better person too? Leave a thank you note for your little cherub in the comments! #thanksbaby!
*image from Please Magazine: http://www.pleasemagazine.com