Becoming a mother is the truest reckoning, especially when you think of the dramatic changes it brings. While you gain a new human (and a completely different set of breasts), you lose some things about yourself in the process. Good or bad, these traits may have been ones that made you feel uniquely you. I know the feeling, because there were a lot of pre-baby things about myself that I lost the moment I became a mom. Not all of them were things I mourned losing, but still, the overall change was jarring.
I wasn't aware of what I had lost when I became a mom the moment it happened, though. The recognition happened over time, slowly and in hindsight. For the most part, I don't miss the pre-baby things about me that are no longer a part of me. A lot of them are parts of me I am better off without. The things motherhood essentially took away from me helped me form a new (albeit, still flawed), more improved identity that feels stronger, more grounded, and more purposeful.
Motherhood, with all its complicatedness, is, on the whole, a gift. Here is a list of some of the things I lost the day I became a mom:
My Desire To Spend My Time Taking Care Of People I Don't Love
Having a baby is all-consuming, especially in the newborn period. I was lucky if I had a moment to go to the bathroom without holding my colicky infant (and, since we're sharing, I basically took him with me for every bathroom trip). So, after I became a mom, when it came to worrying about whether I was taking care of anyone else's feelings, I had zero f*cks to give.
Before becoming a mother, I was the person who took care of everyone's problems (whether they'd asked me to or not). I was the friend with all the "wounded bird" friends, and the first person to volunteer to mentor others. Not that this is a bad thing, necessarily. It is just that, once your life becomes literally owned by a another human being, you only have so many minutes in a day. That's really how my days feel now, ever since I had children. I feel the minutes. Even if I'm not holding a nursing child while sitting down to pee, I'm rushing to walk the dog, then to drop-off, then to work, then to pick up groceries, then to do bed.
So now, unless you're family or truly "inner circle," or really need help that only I can provide, I will likely let you know that I don't have it in me. I stopped having the minutes to give the minute I became a mom.
My Patience For Things That Keep Me From Meeting My Goals & Spending Time With My Kids
Like I said, my time is limited and I try to not to waste energy on things that don't really require my involvement. I used to be all up in everyone's business, absorbing other people's problems like a sponge. However, now I've got more important work to do.
I've always had, you know, like goals. As a lot of women I've spoken to have experienced after having kids, those goals tend to come into sharper focus after childbirth. I don't mean that you suddenly get this "eureka!" feeling, where you absolutely know what you want to do with your life. But you do tend to whittle away at what is wasting your damn time and what things actually make you feel happy and fulfilled.
I try to stick with the things that make me feel good, like being with my kids, spending time with my partner, and writing. When I fall off that track, like when I get swept up in some drama with "friends" or trivial things with the parents at school, I give myself a sharp talking to. Like, "Hello! Time to focus, you. Here's the path. Stay on it."
My Intense Love Of Gory Horror Movies
Growing up, I used to stay up late with my little brother watching Up All Night on the USA Channel, filling my brain with awful horror movies and episodes of Tales From The Crypt. In my teen to adult years, I caught every gory torture film released, from the Hostel movies to the Saw movies. Some scenes turned my stomach, and some even made me leave the theatre, but these moments didn't stop me from buying tickets and seeing these kinds of movies on opening night.
The moment I gave birth, something changed. It was like my chemistry shifted the second that I was the one who had to endure a gory c-section procedure worthy of a horror flick. One night, not long after having my baby, I tried to watch a horror movie at home. As soon as the first gruesome scene came on the screen, I had to stop the movie and switch to a comedy. It has been almost six years and I haven't been able to watch my favorite movie genre.
My Ability To Endure Hearing Or Reading About Anything Horrible Happening To Children
Similar to the horror movie obsession, I also had a weird fascination with reading awful books in which terrible things happened to children. Of course, none of these things gave me pleasure. Rather, I enjoyed feeling the despair and sad feeling state they cast over me. Immediately after becoming a mother, I understood why my own grandmother and mom always insisted we "watch a happy movie" whenever the opportunity to do so arose. I also get why they never understood why I would ever want to read news articles or books about horrible things happening to babies and kids.
Maybe it is because, until you actually have a precious little person of your own, you can't truly imagine what it would feel like if something harmed them. It just became too real for me. Since becoming a mother, there have been no more Word War II books for me, or re-viewings of Schindler's List, or obsessing over footage of children of Aleppo. I am aware that I am a horrible person for purposefully refusing to take in the suffering of children around me, but I just cannot do it. I am aware, and I am angry, but I can't "go there" now that I am a mom.
My Small But Cute Boobs
Onto a lighter topic! My boobs! I have always been a small-chested gal, but at least there was actual breast tissue inside my knockers. Now, I just have skin with nipples, pretty much. Yeah, I miss my pre-baby boobs. They were nice.
My Ability To Read For More Than 15 Minutes Before Falling Asleep
Reading before bed used to be a wonderful way to relax and ease down from the day. It was also my prime reading time, when I tore through novels and stayed up late finishing the good ones I just couldn't put down. Now? I've been reading You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson for the better part of four months. You guys, this is a light, easy-to-read book with a lot of LOL's and relatable moments. I get through maybe four pages and the next thing I know it is 2 a.m. and my lamp is still on and I've been drooling with my Kindle on my chest for two hours.
My Adventurous Side
Scuba lessons? Hell yeah! Sailing on rough waters? Sign me up. Sky diving? I'll consider it! This was the pre-baby me. Now? Well, now I'd prefer to just sit here, idly flipping through US Weekly, thanks.
Ever since I became a mom, I am very conscious of the fact that my very ability to stay alive and in one piece is extremely important to the wellbeing of my family. I can't afford to have a missing arm because a shark decided it wanted a snack. I can't just fall out of a plane for sport and never return because that would not read well in the obits. Now I get all the thrills I need in my annual trip to Coney Island where I ride all the coasters I desire and then I thank God that I survived to tell about it. That's about all the risk I'll take for the rest of the year.
My Shame About Being Naked In Public
I remember the days when I used to go into dressing rooms to change so my mom couldn't see my boobs or my butt. Or when I would hide in the bathroom if I was wearing a robe when my in-laws were over and I wasn't fully dressed yet. Ha! The moment I became a mom, and literally 50 of my closest family and friends crammed into my post-labor recovery room to visit me and the baby, I lost all sense of modesty. My boobs were out and at the time I don't even think I fully registered that fact because so much about giving birth that day was so surreal. "Oh, hi father-In-Law. Nice to see you here while my vagina bleeds a river into this wee-wee-pad. Have you seen my right boob yet?"
Now, I forget that some people would prefer a little modesty on my behalf. If I had it my way, I'd live in a nudist colony. Not because I'm so thrilled with my naked body, but just because I lost the ability to care so much about covering it after having kids and nursing for two years.