25 Moms Share What They Like Better About Themselves After Having Kids

We talk so much about what we lose; here’s what these women gained.

The New Parents Issue

So often, when we talk about becoming a mother, the conversation turns to what women lose: A sense of self. Professional opportunities. Personal space. Our “pre-baby” bodies. What we gain, of course, is a baby (or babies) but that’s not the whole story. Motherhood has the ability to change not just our lives but our perspectives. What we find can be unexpected, freeing, and incredibly rewarding.

Romper spoke to 25 moms from across the United States about what they like better about themselves after having children, particularly within the first year, and their answers were insightful, inspiring, and often ran counter to the common narratives we hear about life after children. So many talked about newfound confidence, or a sense of being able to let go of the little things. Others found they became more playful. Many — despite the prevalence of "get your body back" products, magazine covers, and workout regimens marketed to new moms — found that they gained loving and accepting relationships with their bodies.

Motherhood isn't an either/or of loss and gain, and it's important to maintain space for the full spectrum of experiences. But there is something we can learn, and celebrate, in focusing on the joy of it all. Here's what these 25 moms had to say.

Michelle, Michigan

Courtesy of Michelle Y.

“An unexpected gift of motherhood has been that it has allowed me to love my body for the first time. I've struggled with a negative body image my whole life. The most beautiful I ever felt was when I was pregnant. My biggest ‘problem area’ was always my stomach and for once I didn't have to try to hide it. It was the first time I felt proud of my body and it was incredibly liberating. This set me on the path to body positivity and loving my body the way I am — not for the way I'm supposed to look, but the way I feel and what my body can do.”

Purnima, California

“I like my hair better now. The lush shampoo-commercial pregnancy hair is long gone; if anything, it’s getting more brittle and the grays are coming in faster. But when my 6-year-old comes into the bathroom to tell me he loves my ‘beautiful curls,’ I choose to believe him. Seeing yourself through your kids’ eyes is incredibly freeing. Also, I can now pack an overnight bag for our family of four in seven minutes flat.”

Erica, New York

Courtesy of Erica T.

“I was raised by a single mom who struggled a lot, so I had to grow up kind of early and was always a little adult and am often too serious. Having children has brought out a more carefree and playful spirit in me. My husband jokes I don’t have a juvenile bone in my body but now I know that’s not true. I love seeing the world through their eyes.”

Meredith, Connecticut

Courtesy of Meredith J.

“Motherhood helped me realize how patient and mindful I can be. I’m really proud of the fact that I can reflect on my own behavior, make corrections, or even pat myself on the back for a job well done. I’m proud of my ability to realize I’m not perfect and apologize to my kids for it, when necessary.”

Stephanie, Michigan

“My negotiating skills are top-notch after dealing with my daughter as a 3-year-old.”

Kavita, New York

Courtesy of Kavita D.

“Ever since my daughter Daya was born a little over two years ago, I'm much more confident and focused in my work as a writer and in other pursuits. I'm no longer constantly plagued by imposter syndrome and self-doubt. I think this comes from the practical fact that as a mom to a toddler, I literally have little to no free time to waste on self-doubt but also because I'm trying to model being a confident, motivated woman for Daya.”

Sarah, Pennsylvania

Courtesy of Sarah G.

“I'm still pretty new to the parenthood ride, but something I already like better about myself is that I have the capability to be a lot more patient than I knew I could be. It's easy to rush myself, my partner, to expect the world to move faster so we can do/go/get there, but when you're dealing with this tiny little being who's assimilating a thousand new experiences all the time, I find it so much easier to just take the time that's needed in a given moment.”

Maya, New York

Courtesy of Maya A.

“Being a mother made me a better daughter. I have such a greater appreciation for my parents, and I think I just have a greater sense of gratitude overall.”

Rebecca, New York

Courtesy of Rebecca Carroll

“If not a straight baller (I'm actually terrible at basketball), I never felt genuinely fit and wholly comfortable in my body until I had my son.”

Erin, Texas

“I take better care of myself, which seems counterintuitive, but I exercise more, eat better, and rest when I need to because having three kids made me realize I need energy to be fully present with them. I want to be around to celebrate all of their life's achievements with them as they grow up, and I also want the energy to be able to keep up with them on a run or a hike, or a full day of skiing or Disney Worlding right now. I'm setting an example for my kids by being my best self and the reward for me is that I'm better cared for.”

Corinne, Massachusetts

Courtesy of Corinne O.

“Our youngest son inspired me to go back to school and become a special education teacher. I had no idea that my calling was to become an educator, but he guided me through paths along our journey of his autism diagnosis. I am so, so thankful for him, and every day I aspire to be better for him and children that need my guidance and support.”

Emily, New York

Courtesy of Emily A.

“I have become calmer and much more patient in all aspects of my life.”

Maria, Pennsylvania

Courtesy of Maria E.

“I like that I can play with art supplies and just enjoy playing. Before [having my daughter], playing with art was pointless as I’d never create a masterpiece. Now I play for fun.”

Cindi, California

“I had more body dysmorphia and an inability to feel generally successful. I now love my body and what it has accomplished. I also am better at prioritizing what’s important (it’s a much simpler list) and therefore feel better most days, am less hard on myself, and have more realistic expectations.”

Taylor, Virginia

Courtesy of Taylor H.

“I like being a nurturer. Growing up as the ‘baby’ of the family, I was the one who broke things. People were always caring for or helping me, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to comfort my kids, even if I loved them. It turns out, holding my kids close and being a safe space for them might be my favorite part of motherhood.”

Amanda, New York

Courtesy of Amanda C.

“I’ve noticed petty self-doubts have disappeared. I am much more open to taking risks and accepting failure now that I’m modeling for my children to go for what they want. That the answer is always no until you ask. I face more fears and learn more about the strength I possess. And I am so much more forgiving with my body — sometimes I am downright impressed with myself!”

Jessie, Florida

“I feel like I've become less judgmental. I'm not sure if that's having kids, age, or therapy. It’s probably a combination of all three.”

Caroline, Oregon

Courtesy of Caroline W.

Having children upped the stakes for me. As a parent, everything matters more. I have to take care of my mental and physical health because I set the tone for how my kids should treat themselves. My relationship matters more because my children are watching how I treat others. I love that my children motivate me to become a better person. They help me believe I can do anything I put my mind to.”

Jennifer, Virginia

“After I had kids, I loved my body for the first time ever. I was capable of creating and pushing out and feeding a human, all with my own body. And my kids never cared how I looked. They cuddled on my big arms and belly and sat on my lap and I just knew my body was actually amazing after all. I am so grateful to motherhood for what it did to my self-image and body issues.”

Aya, Ohio

Courtesy of Aya K.

“I love that I’ve become more active. Going on bike rides together, canoeing, just a bunch of outdoor activities, which I did not really do before having kids: I hate the outdoors!”

Claire, New York

“I am 10,000 times stronger than I ever knew, in a whole lot of different ways. I treasure that.”

Gerren, Pennsylvania

Courtesy of Gerren W.

“Since becoming a mother, I'm amazed at how much more willing I am to stand up for what's right — not just for my kids, but all kids. I want equity for all involved, and I have learned that being a bulldog mom is not my style, since we really have no idea what the whole picture is in every situation. Going into full-force is not empathic towards all involved. Sitting back and assessing the situation from all sides has become a valuable lesson.”

Tia, Georgia

“When I had my first child, she stopped crying the moment they put her on my chest and I knew that I was now someone's safe place. Being a mom has brought me deeper levels of compassion and forgiveness — and especially more understanding of my own parents’ successes and failures.”

Shannon, Ohio

Courtesy of Shannon N.

“Motherhood has given me so much confidence, and has helped me put ‘stressful situations’ into perspective. Nothing was, or has been up to this point in my life, more stressful for me than keeping a tiny human alive for that first year. I did it, I love myself for it, and now I believe I can do anything!”

Jillian, North Carolina

Courtesy of Jillian L.

“There are many things about myself that have expanded and evolved since becoming a mom. I’m more patient, more organized, more spiritual, and more resourceful. However, I am most impressed with how OK I am with stinking most of the time.”