When I was still pregnant with my child, Max, I had this idea of what motherhood would be like. I pictured myself walking around the house with a baby on my hip or cooking dinner while he was sleeping, me moving around the kitchen with ease. I pictured myself as the same person, doing the same things I’ve been doing everyday, just with a baby. I knew my life would change, but not to the extent that it did. Not only was I wrong about my baby being the type that was okay with me putting him down, I was completely wrong about the idea of me being the same person that I was before I gave birth. Motherhood transformed me in ways that I was not expecting or could ever prepare for.
It wasn’t until I had spent time with my friends at a party a few months after Max was born that I felt the true weight of my transformation.
After I gave birth, my worries were the typical ones – physical recovery, hormone changes, rest, breastfeeding, etc. I spent a lot of my time at home or with family, not wanting to venture out too much because, honestly, I was just so happy being a mom that I wanted to sit in my bliss for as long as possible. I was so fortunate and privileged in my initial transition because I knew that other parents had a much harder time after giving birth. It wasn’t until I had spent time with my friends at a party a few months after Max was born that I felt the true weight of my transformation. I was so overwhelmed by all of it: the atmosphere, my friends, the drinks, the music. I couldn’t explain it, but all I kept thinking was that I wanted to be home. I no longer felt that I belonged in that space and it was the first time I truly realized just how much motherhood had altered me. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my friends or that I didn’t want to be apart of their lives anymore, it’s that I was trying to go about life as if nothing had changed. But I was completely altered. My identity was no longer my own, because I now shared it with this tiny little human. My tiny little human.
It was incredibly difficult to share these new feelings with my friends because it was something I just could not explain. When the words came out, I could hear how they fell short of what my true feelings were. It sounded like I was blaming them for not being enough, or that I had changed to the point where I didn’t need or want them anymore. None of those things were true.
I was more empathetic, soft, fluid, and simultaneously more protective, cared less about what other people thought and quicker to set my own boundaries to preserve myself.
What was true is that, for me, it took awhile to realize my alterations and what that now meant for my life. Of course I was told that things would change, but they were the things everyone says. Variations of “Say goodbye to sleep!” and “Your marriage will never be the same!” plagued my conversations. But no one ever said to me that what you’ll experience is a transformation, and for me the transformation was radical. I was more empathetic, soft, fluid, and simultaneously more protective, cared less about what other people thought and quicker to set my own boundaries to preserve myself. What no one told me was that I was about to become the next version of myself, another Kristen in a long line of people that I had to be in order to grow into who I am today.
Looking back on that time, I realize that it was a growing pain. A major kind that I hadn’t experienced in a long time and one that I didn’t think I would experience as an adult. I worked through the changes and became more transparent and open with my friends about what was going on with me. I am fortunate enough to have friends who are so understanding and loving. They listened and even if they didn’t understand they were there for me. And as uncomfortable as that period of change in my life was, I am so grateful for all of the growing pains that I’ve had to experience in this life and for all of the ones that haven’t happened yet.