Becoming a parent…
I have been thinking about what my first “real” post should be about. I have conversations in my head all the time about things I would like to say out loud if someone would just listen- or pretend to listen. Starting this blog is, what I consider, step 1 in moving forward with my professional and personal goals. I have always thought of myself as a writer but, as I grew older, wrote hundreds upon hundreds of papers for college and graduate school, read thousands upon thousands of books and journal articles, I have realized that I am less of a writer, and more a conversationalist.
The way I write (and speak) has changed even more now that I am a mother. I want what I say to have some kind of influence- a lasting impression for someone, anyone. When I read books, journal articles, or even magazines now, I am more emotional about and invested in the content. When I watch news stories I think about how I would react as a parent. I think about what this event might mean for my son. For the first time ever, I stopped making fun of the people that say “How am I going to explain this to my kids?” and I actually started trying to figure out how I would, one day, explain something like this to my kid. I am constantly reminded that every moment could be a teaching moment, every event can be a learning experience, and I can’t be afraid to have the tough conversations from the beginning.
My husband and I talk a lot about how our lives are different now that we are parents. He recently revealed to me that he thinks about what kind of world he wants our son to grow up in (which is very rare because he is not the guy that goes abstract or existential- ever). We were watching “Red Dawn” and he starts explaining his plan for how he would react if North Korea or Russia or whomever came in to the US and occupied our neighborhood. He went in to great detail about how he would instruct the family to act, where we would hide, and what kind of skills we would need to know ahead of time… I mean some real thought went in to this. We laughed about it in a funny-but-kind-of-serious way and I made a comment about how insanely attractive Chris Hemsworth is, asked when the next Thor movie comes out, and we went to bed. But I went to bed thinking how crazy it is to think how much the wiring of your brain and the difference in your thought patterns are just because you became a parent.
I cry… a lot. I have always been a crier (as anyone in my graduate program can tell you) but, man, I cry a lot more now. I also find that I have so much more patience and I am able to stop and breathe first before reacting. Becoming a counselor taught me all of the skills for how to do this. My son has helped me to apply the knowledge.
[There is a huge caveat to this statement, however. My patience goes out the window when my toddler decides to wake up in the middle night. I can only be calm for the first couple of times he asks me for yogurt, more milk, cereal, French toast, etc… After that, I start breathing heavily and whining about how I just want him to go back to bed. My husband, however, is amazing no matter what time of night. Thanks, by the way babe!]
I think the biggest thing that has shocked me is how quickly all of this change happened. I mean, yeah, I started to think differently when I was pregnant. One of my best friends (and great moms by the way) had to remind me a few times that “it isn’t about me anymore!” But giving up wine, sleeping sitting up for the last month or two, and putting on the pregnancy weight was no big deal because I was doing it for the baby. Now it just feels so much bigger. While I have always been a control-freak, I am a relatively laid back person when it comes to my personal life. My husband and I both take things in stride pretty easily. Then, all of a sudden, I am measuring toys to make sure they aren’t choking hazards, I am checking 19 times a night to make sure he is still breathing, and I am making enemies of family members because they don’t do everything exactly like I do. And, for me, it took a very long time to get past this obsessive part (if I am even past it completely now that the baby is almost 2).
This change in thinking happens for a reason. While it makes us feel a little crazy at times, it keeps the baby safe, it prepares us for the days ahead, and it reminds us that life will forever be different. I instantly stopped thinking about myself, and put him first (regardless of how crazy, rude, or obsessive it made me seem). Becoming a parent is more than what it looks like on paper. It rewires us, it encourages us, and it reminds us that that world is big and scary…and wonderful.