One of the first things you hear when you tell people you’re pregnant is, “Better get your sleep now.” Or they smile and say good luck. Yes, your life will never be the same. But it’s the little details that have changed that are the ones that really floor me each and every day.
And even though sometimes I can’t remember my life beforehand, here are a few of the surprising things that changed when I had kids.
- I stopped caring about my appearance. As a single 20-something living in Manhattan, it was a risk to even run out to walk the dog without my hair and makeup on point. But the second I got pregnant, I was more concerned about what I was eating and how I could get it in my belly ASAP to even glance in the mirror. There were times I realized I’d gone an entire day without so much as looking at my appearance. And that continued once my twins arrived. I was growing two babies at once; I had more important things to worry about.
- Weekends take on a new meaning. Before children, weekends meant sleeping in, leisurely brunches, and late-night movies. Now it means cuddling in bed with little people, leisurely brunches with good children’s menus, and scrambling for a babysitter for late-night movie runs. And if we miss a Saturday night out, no big deal. Before it was depressing to miss a night out, but now, my husband and I just shrug and throw on The People vs. OJ Simpson and call it a night.
- Priorities shift. Forget keeping up with what’s on my DVR, now I care about keeping up with what my kids are learning in school. I can’t tell you who the Bachelor is this season or what happened on the series finale of Downton Abbey, but I know that my boys are learning about the letter C and how many planets there are in the solar system, which by the way has changed since I was in school.
- There used to be nothing I loved more than a free afternoon filled with shopping. Popping in and out of stores without a care in the world. Now I barely shop for myself, and if I do it’s almost always online. If I’m out and about, I’m usually looking for the kids. Do they need a new winter coat? Is the baby growing out of her clothes already? Does B (and his giant toddler feet) need new shoes? Sure, if I see something awesome for myself while out, I won’t turn away, but my focus is always on the kids.
- My relationship with my parents. I’ve always thought my parents were rock stars. Throughout my life, I’ve looked to them for guidance, support, words of wisdom, and friendship. But once I had kids, I found I had a new respect for them and everything they went through for my sister and myself. Every tear my kids shed breaks my heart. How on Earth did my parents survive our heartbreaks, injuries, successes, etc with such calm? They were and are my rocks and it is only now, as a mom, that I fully appreciate them.
- My own feelings are eclipsed by those of my children. What I thought was emotional pain is nothing compared to when one of my children is upset. I physically hurt. I can’t sleep. I can’t breathe. I can’t eat. I don’t know how to function until I see them smile again or know they’re OK. I’m not an overly anxious or neurotic person, but when it comes to my babies, I totally worry about everything.
- Talking about bodily functions becomes commonplace. I never thought I’d utter the phrase, “Yay poop,” but I have, many times. I also never thought I’d be discussing pee, poop, snot, vomit, etc. on a regular basis with other parents. Without feeling gross. But I have. Any parent will tell you, they totally know the last time their (little) kid pooped and the consistency, which I admit is totally disgusting, but necessary.
- Life really matters. Of course, I always knew life was a blessing. But if I got sick, or hurt, or worse, it didn’t seem like the end of the world. I could take care of myself and it would be OK. Now if I get even so much as a cold, it’s a disaster. I have three little humans who rely on me for pretty much everything. I can’t afford to spend the entire day in bed; moms just don’t get sick days. And I’m OK with that. I look at their faces each day and know I have to take better care of myself and my husband so we can be there for them for a long long long time.
Yes, my life has changed in other ways besides the above – never sleeping through the night, exhausted all the time, waking up with the sun, etc, but these are the (amazing) ways that it’s changed that I wasn’t quite expecting.