After you have kids, friends, family, and society at large often looks at you differently. "You're a mom now," some people will say in disbelief, as though having a child has fundamentally changed the structure of your DNA and they have to re-learn everything about you. Of course, there's a grain of truth in there, right? While you haven't transformed into a new species, becoming a parent can refocus your life and make you see things differently. I asked moms to share what motherhood has made them appreciate the most, because sometimes those shifts can be pretty interesting.
If we're being honest, motherhood really didn't change me all that much, but it absolutely changed the way I view and see things. Some of that change resulted in an undeniable strengthening of beliefs I'd already held. Other changes simply provided me with new perspectives that could only come from the experience of carrying, birthing, and raising my two little creatures. I've found that some people get prickly when you tell them that being a mother changed the way you see things, and I guess I can see why. If you're not careful, that assertion can come off as smug, like, "Oh, I thought this and then I had a baby and evolved to a higher level of consciousness." However, it's less "I'm operating in an elite and profoundly spiritual zone" so much as "Having this kid has changed my life in a lot of ways, and just like any other big life change, this one has given me another view of life and living."
Those changes can bring about appreciation for people, places, things, and ideas that you didn't feel as deeply in the past. While I'm sure all of us, mothers or not, have the rest of our lives to have new experience that will show us new ways to be grateful (and things to be grateful for), here are some things motherhood has made moms appreciate more:
"My own mother. I had no idea the feelings I would feel being a mother. The unconditional love, the ache in your heart when they are hurting, overwhelming emotions for these two beautiful babies that I made. And my momma feels the same way for me."
"Motherhood has made me appreciate the ordinary. We hear of so many struggles and tragedies, especially through social media, and while we have had some of our own, they pale in comparison to what some families go through. I truly appreciate the boring and the regular of our every day, because there is so much blessing and beauty in that."
Time. I appreciate time spent with my children, the value of the rare free moment, and how lucky we are to be able to spend a lot of time as a family.
"I appreciate my own strength so much more. Being a mom is like a superpower. Motherhood has also made me embrace my silly side. Funny voices, songs and dances; bring 'em on. So very different than my non-mom self."
"It has made me really appreciate my family and our abundance of traditions. Not just around the holidays, but all the time. I always enjoyed how often we spent time together, but watching my kids take part in everything and get loved on by our family members is one of my favorite parts of parenting. I mean, there was no question that there would be a canvas bag decorated by my cousins (my brother and I did that for them) for my son at his first Christmas or a handmade stocking for either kid. And now that my son is getting older, watching him get excited about our post-Thanksgiving weekend away or "driving" the boat with his grandpa is pretty neat."
I appreciate my husband even more than I already did. I'm so lucky to have a truly equal partner to share in this transformational time.
"It has made me laser focus on what brings me joy and what my purpose is in life. I appreciate the simple moments, like the pudgy fingers wrapped around a dandelion picked just for me. The small things are truly the most important."
"My "village." Being a first -time mom and dealing with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, most of the first 6-10 weeks of my son's life I was just trying to survive. I leaned on my own mother and my mama friends so much. They helped to normalize and validate my feelings and fears and promised me it would get better. And it did!"
I appreciate my mom and how I was raised. It's also made me appreciate the little moments-snuggling on the couch, building Legos, reading books...
"It has made me appreciate the value of silliness. I had always tried to tamp mine down as other adults found it unbecoming, but it has been my greatest tool with my kids. Now the lack of fear over looking like a total goofball has saved me from so many impending tantrums and arguments and strengthened my relationship with my family. Nothing a good fart joke or impromptu dance party can't fix!"
"The first thing I appreciate more is my own time, freedom, and the opportunity to work, study, spend time with friends, travel, create or appreciate art, exercise, meditate, cook, shop, or just do nothing. All of a sudden my time and energy became so precious that everything I spend my time on other than child care became extremely valuable!
In general I have become much more appreciative of people in leadership roles in society. Everyone from teachers to politicians to police officers; I used to be a big anti-authoritarian iconoclast, but now my perspective has shifted somewhat. I realize that these people may not be perfect and I don't have to agree with them all the time, but they are, for the most part, people who work hard trying to take care of others and I get that now on a deep level."
Honestly, I'm just so overwhelmingly humbled that I get the honor to be a mother. Even the hard days, I appreciate it, as I know there are many women with empty arms.
"The importance and power of community, local and global, and the serious responsibility every person in that community has to make it one everyone can be included in and proud of, now and for the future."
"I've been struggling with this question, because there is no one short answer that feels right. I think what it makes me appreciate the most is each sweet breath that they take and that I get to witness. In a slightly morbid way, motherhood has made me appreciate the fragile nature of life, that we don't know how long it will last and what path it will take. And those moments where I can walk into my children's rooms while they are sleeping and just listen to them breathe and I am thankful for each breath they take that I get to witness. The existence of us both on this plane of being at this time. That is what I am most appreciative of. And now I shall stamp my hippie dippy card once again."
[Writer's Note: Stamp my hippie dippy card, too, Emily. I feel you.]
"Silence. Oh. My. God. I love it."