Everyone told me that becoming a mother would change my life. “you’ll never sleep again but it’s totally worth it”, they said. Obviously, I anticipated that it would change me in some way, but I never saw myself as a very maternal person. I was convinced that I would not be like other moms simply because that wasn’t really my personality type.
My little guy is just over a year old now and I can’t believe how much of a mom I am. Sure, I lost a lot of sleep and the love I feel for my son is like nothing I’ve ever felt before, but there were also some surprises. For those of you expecting your first baby, here are 9 unexpected ways that motherhood changes you.
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9 Unexpected Ways That Motherhood Changes You
You realize how selfish you used to be
Before I had my son, I was spoiled. Because we had a dual income, I pretty much bought everything I wanted when I wanted it, within reason of course. My husband and I would order out dinner without a second thought and we were quick to get frustrated when we had obligations from work or family.
Suddenly the things that really matter are whether we have diapers or how quickly and easily we can whip up dinner and get our little guy to bed on time. Obligations to the family have gone from being a frustration to a necessity to make sure that our son gets to spend time with them. I used to care so much about my career and financial success. The focus now has shifted to making sure that our son has our love and attention as often as possible while still bringing in the minimum income needed to sustain our family.
You don’t have enough room for other’s problems
When we brought my son home from the hospital, breastfeeding was a huge challenge. We had frequent weigh-ins at the pediatrician’s office and the term “failure to thrive” was haunting us. When friends or family brought up some of their current struggles, I just didn’t have any room left to show them any sort of empathy or concern.
After discovering that my son had a tongue tie and correcting it, things quickly improved, but I still have yet to go completely back to the way I was before becoming a mom. I still care about my friends and family greatly, but I simply can’t afford to invest as much Mental energy in their problems as I once did. Honestly, I think this is somewhat of a blessing. Other people’s problems used to have far too big of an impact on my life.
You don’t care what people think
Not only do other’s problems become less impactful, but their opinions do as well. I’ll admit, during pregnancy and early motherhood, others’ opinions got to me a bit. But as I grew as a mother, I quickly realized that I knew my son better than they did, and while their advice may be helpful, I needed to decide what was best.
When someone disagreed with the decisions I made, I found myself unaffected. Pre-motherhood, I was very much so a people pleaser. While I still enjoy making those I care about happy, the first priority now is always to take care of my son to the best of my abilities. I see no reason to feel guilty for doing so.
You don’t care if you miss out
As an only child who has always struggled to maintain friendships, I have spent most of my life worried that I was missing out, or feeling left out. Being a mom has distracted me from this anxiety. If an activity is happening and it’s not reasonable for us to attend, it doesn’t bother me. Besides, what could be more wonderful than spending time with my son? I’m not “missing” anything by staying in for the night.
Another positive change is the realization that the consequences of what we used to consider a night of fun (drinking until 4am), just aren’t worth it. Even if we have a babysitter for that night, we’ll still have to go back to being parents when we pick up our son smack dab in the middle of our hangover. Gone are the days of sleeping it off. This may sound depressing if you’re not a parent yet, but I found it sort of freeing. I now have a reason to call it a night early, which results in a better day the next day.
You become a morning person
This was a big change for me. I have never been a morning person. I felt most productive at night and absolutely hated waking up. Whenever given the chance, I would sleep in as late as I could. When you’re a mom, the morning suddenly becomes your favorite time of day. If you can manage to get up earlier than everyone in your household, you actually get some time to yourself! I had no idea how precious this alone time would be. It’s always nice to have some calm before the storm.
These days, I get up an hour or more before my son. I’ll usually grab my laptop and a cup of coffee and head back to my bed. I then have an hour to myself (after my husband leaves for work) to write – in bed. Yes, writing is what I do for “work” but I love every minute of it. It relaxes me and I start off the day having already accomplished something. Not to mention, I get to drink an entire cup of coffee without having to reheat it 6 times! (Yeah, that’s a mom thing too.)
If you would have asked me a couple of years ago if I would ever get up early to work before my kid got up, I would have laughed. In fact, I believe I even told people that when I had kids I would be teaching them to sleep in as late as possible so I could too. Oh, how things have changed.
You become more decisive
I have never been a very decisive person. I always needed other’s opinions or approval before I made a decision, even for small ones. My husband and I had the classic “what do you want for dinner” argument on an almost daily basis.
With a baby in the house, decisions need to be made more quickly. If he’s finally down for a nap, we better decide quickly if we want to watch that show we’ve been saving. When he’s sick, I don’t have time to call a family member for advice, I just need to get my baby’s fever down stat.
The other great thing about being a mom is that you’re too busy to deal with regret, at least for the small decisions. It is what it is. Now back to chasing your toddler around before he gets ahold of the remote again.
You gain strength in places you didn’t know existed
When I say strength, I don’t just mean physical strength. Of course, you do gain some unexpected mom muscles. My husband frequently compliments me on my ability to hold my son for an almost unlimited amount of time while simultaneously doing just about anything. But physical strength aside, you will also gain mental strength.
You will be able to power through the toughest situations for your child. We have had our fair share of struggles in marriage and finances over the last year. Even on the hardest days, I still need to be there for my son. We still need to play and he still needs his mom to be loving and attentive. It’s amazing to me that I can set aside our troubles to make sure that my son is happy without thinking twice about it.
This new strength, for me, has been a lesson in what is really important. If my husband and I are arguing, and I can completely disregard our fight for an hour to play with my son, then I can probably let the fight go altogether. It’s clearly not the end of the world, or I would have a much harder time putting on a happy face while playing with Legos and watching Word Party. It’s just another way that motherhood introduces you to a whole new perspective.
You change as a spouse or significant other
Like I said, we’ve had plenty of struggles with our marriage over the last year. It’s to be expected. After you have a baby, everything changes. From intimacy to emotional support, most couples find themselves struggling to find the balance between caring for a little one and caring for their marriage. Ultimately, this challenge has made our marriage stronger, but things are definitely different.
Gone are the days of jealousy or any form of concern about a move-out, break-up or anything along those lines. Not that we didn’t already know this, but having a baby further solidified that we were in this for the long haul. Part of this may be that we aren’t participating in activities that promote jealousy, like drinking at a bar or going out all night with friends. But I think the other part is that we both know that not only would we never want to do anything to hurt each other, but we would never do anything to jeopardize our family.
There have also been some changes in how we react to each other’s emotional needs. My tolerance for unnecessary complaining seemed to go down and I started calling my husband out on more things (which was a challenging transition). Honestly, I think it all came down to the fact that dealing with a crying baby for hours led me to have less empathy when it came to minor daily irritants.
On the other hand, I also started demanding that more of my emotional needs be met. I don’t mean that I literally ordered my husband to be more supportive because that would be hilariously ineffective. I simply needed it. Between pregnancy, postpartum anxiety, and the ups and downs of being a new mom, I had my fair share of breakdowns. My husband recognized that I needed more support and stepped up.
You will never again not be a mom
This is something I’m still coming to terms with. It still feels so strange to me sometimes. Never again, will I not be worried about my son. Even when he is 30 and (hopefully) on his own entirely, maybe even supporting his own family, I will still worry. I will still feel the need to be there at a moment’s notice if he needs me. The days of thinking only about myself are so far gone at this point and my son isn’t even 2 years old yet.
Obviously, the younger years are more demanding, and there will come a time when I can worry far less. But it’s still so odd to me that the act of having a baby literally made me a different person, forever. The great thing is, it made me a better person. I am stronger. My priorities are in check. I am more efficient and productive than ever. Never in my life have I been more clear on what I want and need and who I really am.
So, yes. Motherhood changes you in many unexpected ways. But I’m willing to bet, if you ask any mom, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Welcome to the greatest adventure of your life, momma!
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