In my 20s I LIVED. IT. UP. My then boyfriend (now hubby) and I took at least two trips a year. I went to so many leisurely, late brunches that I should have mimosa spouting from my ears by now. I slept in, took naps, luxuriated in hot baths, spent my hard-earned money frivolously, and essentially lived life just for me. And I did all of this with intention, knowing my dream of becoming a mom would change all of those decisions and essentially strip me of my freedom.
I spent the better part of a decade preparing for what I would lose, and when I think back to that I can only shake my head and grin at my naïveté. Because I never considered, or even could have known, how much I would gain.
I’m not saying I was naïve because nothing changed when I had my son. Everything changed. My mental space has never been more cluttered. Sick days are a thing of the past. And I’ve spent more money on diapers in the past year than I ever spent on brunch in my former life.
But it’s amazing how somehow space is made and magically everything you thought you didn’t have room for somehow gets accommodated. You know how in The Santa Clause Charlie explains Santa getting into houses that don’t have chimneys by saying that a chimney just appears? It’s kind of like that.
Of course, there are moments, sometimes even whole days, when I long for an interruption-free bath and a meal at a place that doesn’t have a kids’ menu. I certainly miss jet setting and spontaneous weekend trips away. And what I wouldn’t give for a kid-free day spent lounging at the beach without wondering if my breasts might leak through my bikini top. A sandy spot by the sea just isn’t conducive to pumping.
But so many of the things I worried about pre-pregnancy just aren’t issues. I always thought I would miss sleeping in late, and I couldn’t have imagined that those 6am snuggles with the whole family piled in our bed would be even better. I never could have known that one whiff of my son’s skin could erase weeks (err, months) of missed sleep.
I prepared so hard and for so long for what I would be losing by banking experiences I thought I would never have again. And I did this with such vigor that it completely took me by surprise that this wasn’t the case at all.
Now it’s hard to say if this would have true if I’d had kids earlier. I’m an old mom, practically geriatric, at age 31. If I started my journey to motherhood in my 20s, maybe I wouldn’t feel quite as at peace with my experiences. But part of me truly thinks that one of the many superpowers women have is to just GET IT DONE. Without complaint or ceremony. Through sick days, sleep deprivation, hail storms, and hangovers.
And this evolution has somehow made me way more “me” than I ever was before. Somehow, through some indefinable sorcery, through a journey that I thought would strip me of all of my me-ness, I have found a stronger, better, more interesting person than I ever was before.
Sure now I cry whenever there’s a commercial with babies in it. Or when the wind blows due south. And about 32% of the time I pee when I laugh. Then laugh that I peed. And then I’m back to crying…
But the confidence that comes with surviving that first year of motherhood, and celebrating the success of keeping your tiny human alive, tends to instill this impenetrable confidence and hierarchy of priorities – and not loving myself just as I am is simply no longer one of those priorities.
I’m softer, more forgetful, warmer, definitely not cooler, and I certainly have less time for brunching. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.