When I gave birth to my son four years go, I was the first of my friends to have a baby. One of the most common refrains I heard among my childfree friends —male, female, single, coupled, married, gay, straight, older, younger, and all races — was this: "You're a mom! I can't believe you're a mom!" It struck me, and continues to strike me, as a weird thing to be on the receiving end of. Because implicit in their bemused declaration is the idea that something within me had changed. And even now, four-and-a-half years and a second child later, I truly feel that I'm the exact person I was before. Becoming a mother didn't alter my brain chemistry or personality. (Except for the part of my brain that used to hate beer; I popped out a kid and suddenly loved the stuff. Whodathunk?) I'm just... me plus kid. But hey, motherhood changes people in some cases, and that's totally fine, too! Of course like anyone else, I couldn't have known which end of the spectrum I was going to fall on before my kids came into my life... and that in and of itself can be a source of worry.
Look, it's totally normal to be worried about EVERYTHING before you have a baby. Worried about your child. Worried about what kind of mother you'll be. Worried about what you will lose of yourself as you move through your parenting journey. But you know what, ladies? You've got this. You're a grown-ass woman! And do you know what grown-ass women do? They fake it until they make it if they have to and they go with it. They listen to the fierce little voice inside their heads (I imagine she sounds like Beyoncé or Ruth Bader Ginsberg) and embrace the experience as it unfolds. Or they fight against it if they have to.
Again, I'm almost five years into parenting now and there are still times where I have to repeat my mantra of "You are a grown-ass woman, and you can do this." I'd venture to say my own mother has days like that, and her youngest child is 25. So even when you don't feel like a grown-ass woman... just think about what one would think or do and try your best to go with that. So what does a grown-ass woman worry about? Honestly, the same as the rest of us. But here are some of the things she eventually learns she doesn't have to worry about.
Suddenly Becoming Uncool
Grown-ass women no longer play the whole "cool game." They are who they are and if that happens to be cool, that's fine, but they're not going to try to be anything other than themselves. And they're not nervous that whatever caché they had pre-baby is mystically going to evaporate. Nor do they feel pressure to change aspects of their personality because they're mothers now. Things may change, but they know who they are.
Suddenly Becoming Undesirable
This isn't to say that even grown-ass women don't have moments of insecurity or physical issues that make sex difficult after having a baby, but they don't buy into the concept that their sexuality has to vanish or change now that they're mothers. The inner sex goddess of a grown-ass woman does not go away that easily.
Because shit is literally about to get real, and a grown-ass woman knows she's inevitably going to have to deal with it. So there's nothing to do but hold your nose, roll up your sleeves, and go for it.
"Getting Her Body Back"
Because a grown-ass woman knows her body didn't go anywhere. It's right where it's always been, holding her brain and guts (and until recently, baby) in place. Maybe it looks different now since having her little one: that's okay. Perhaps she'll eat differently and exercise in order for her body to look more like it did before she had a baby. Perhaps she won't. Either way, a grown-ass woman knows the expectation that she has to (or should want to) do this is absurd.
Whatever People Think About Her Birth Plan
Whether a grown-ass woman has opted for a medication free water birth or scheduled a c-section (grown-ass women make all kinds of informed decisions about birth), she couldn't care less about other people's opinions on the matter... and she doesn't mind telling them as much if she has to.
Communicating Her Needs In The First Few Weeks/Months/Years
If a grown-ass woman could use your help, she isn't too proud to say so. Similarly, if your well-meaning visits every afternoon are keeping her from settling into her life as a new mom, she will let you know that, too (in a polite, assertive, friendly way). A grown-ass woman knows how to take care of herself, and she knows that sometimes that requires other people and sometimes it doesn't.
The Ridiculousness Of Her Granny Panties
The underwear one wears after giving birth is hysterical. They are enormous and look like diapers. This humor is not lost on a grown-ass woman and she doesn't feel self-conscious about them. This is an instant where she laughs with the universe.
Like "being cool," being perfect doesn't exist. The people who try will shortly realize that there's always something else they feel they have to do. It's exhausting and futile and a grown-ass woman doesn't have time for futility.
Being Seen As Perfect
Even though some people know perfection is a lie, they may nevertheless feel compelled to give the illusion of perfection to their friends, family, neighbors, and fellow moms. Grown-ass women not only don't even pretend to be perfect, but they assure everyone that the whole thing is a myth.
Grown-ass women can be scared of changes that are bound to happen once they become mothers... but the fact that things will change in and of itself doesn't scare them. Like Rafiki in The Lion King, they know that "change is good." They don't fight against the fact that having a baby will change their lives (even if it doesn't really change who they are as people), and they don't struggle to get things to go "back to normal" as soon as possible. A grown-ass woman rolls with it, accepts it, and does her best.
And so, as we move through motherhood, may we all find and channel our inner grown-ass woman.