Becoming a Parent Changes You
... I Get It Now
I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve heard my dad say, “You’ll understand when you become a parent,” throughout my entire life. It was as if we were on opposite sides of a fence and he couldn’t wait for me to hop over to his side so that I could finally see what he was seeing for all these years. I probably ignored his sentiment as a child, rolled my eyes to it as a teenager, and definitely couldn’t comprehend it as an adult non-parent. I’ve been a parent for just three short months, and (brace yourself, Dad) I get it now.
It is so true that no one can prepare you for what it’s like to become a parent until you are already knee-deep in the trenches. I’d like to think that I wasn’t completely naïve before becoming a parent. I knew that becoming a mom would change me in some ways. I was sure that I wouldn’t have time for my friends like I used to, that I wouldn’t get the quality of sleep that I was used to, and that my husband and I would find it more difficult to get out on our own for dates and vacations like we used to. These were all surface-level changes that I felt prepared for. What I wasn’t prepared for was how profoundly your life changes when you bring another life into this world.
In the short amount of time that I have now joined my parents and all of the other parents on this side of the fence, I can honestly say that I am a different person to the core than I was just three months ago. This change certainly didn’t happen overnight once my daughter was born. It wasn’t a magical spell that was cast over me from the first time I saw her. It was a gradual change that is still taking place inside of me every time I look at my baby girl or think about her new life.
There is something about children that just inspires so much goodness in the world. Children have this absolutely pure innocence about them that emits sheer joy to everyone around them. (I am witness to that every time I am in public with my own baby.) They are not born with hatred or evil; they only seek happiness and comfort. I can definitely say firsthand that, no matter what kind of day you are having or what kind of mood you are in, it is impossible to look at your own smiling baby and feel anything but happiness and love. Who knew that after an exhaustingly difficult night with a brand new baby that you could look at their smiling face in the morning and completely forget the fact that you are running on forty-five minutes of sleep and have a full day ahead of you?
Being a parent makes me reflect on everything in my life. It’s as if I am now equipped with this profound understanding of what this world is really about and what my purpose is. I am more thankful for each and every day – no matter how difficult or monotonous. I am more willing to let go of things that ultimately don’t matter and to focus on the happiness of my own little family. I am willing to admit that I am not perfect. I have made so many mistakes in my life and will continue to make mistakes and learn from them every day. What I now know is that there is so much beauty and simplicity in life that I have missed out on for so many years, until now.
So, as I have hopped that dividing child/parent fence, never to return to the other side, I am beginning to see part of the world through my parents’ eyes. If I could go back in time and give myself some very valuable advice, it would be to take it easy on Mom and Dad. Partially because I can finally understand all of the stress I may have caused them as a teenager, and partially because I am terrified that karma may not be so easy on me in about twelve years. Since I am unable to make up for time, I wanted to say “thank you…”
Thank you for giving me the gift of life… For all the sleepless nights you spent with me as a new baby… For the tantrums I surely threw as a toddler… For the times I challenged you as a teenager (Have I ever told you how truly sorry I am for being such a pain? I am sure you will both be snickering when my already strong-willed daughter begins challenging me at that age.)… For guiding me as an adult, and for helping me transition into motherhood.
Finally, Mom and Dad, I’m sure you’ve been waiting a better part of your life to hear this… For all the times I didn’t understand or thought you were wrong… You were right. I am a parent now, and I do understand. I get it now.