Let me first say that there is nothing I regret about being a mother. I love my daughters and every hair-pullingly irritating thing they do (and I write this as Quinn is climbing over my lap and Evyn is being suspiciously quiet with my nail polish in her room.) However, all hugs and kisses aside, motherhood demolished my identity. Seriously tsunami'd my little seaside community sense of self. In my twenties, I was married, and we tried without success to have a baby. At the end of that relationship, I had come to the conclusion that I just wasn't someone who gets to experience the world of baby showers and holiday cards with kids in matching pajamas all in a row. So I went back to graduate school, partied like an idiot, and decided exactly the person I was going to be for the rest of my childless life. And I was okay with it, happy even. Then I met Steve, and I was dragged kicking and screaming into the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Being a mom made me accountable.
Although at any given moment I had absolutely no f-ing idea what I was doing at first, I had to be responsible for what I did. As a single, childless woman, I could write things off as a lapse in judgment or a drunken mistake. From the moment the pregnancy test shot out confetti and flashed more colored stripes than a circus tent, my decisions actually meant something. I had to be responsible for my choices, and that realization nearly knocked me off the toilet seat, pee stick still in hand. Not cool.
Being a mom inspired courage and crippling fear simultaneously about 95% of the time.
Sure, I'll allow a doctor to test us for genetic defects by inserting a 5-inch needle into my belly no problem, but watch the waterworks when I worry that I may have accidentally eaten a bite of mercury-laden tuna salad causing horrific damage to the baby. There are so many do’s and don’ts during pregnancy and parenthood it could make your head spin, and the hand-to-god truth is that no one really knows what they're talking about. I had to muster up the courage to make my own decisions for my children and handle the crippling realization that I will make mistakes and possibly scar them for life (flash back to me letting my three year old watch The Walking Dead). The most important thing I learned was I only had to be courageous enough to make informed decisions for my children and stick to them.
Being a mom inspired true empathy.
Not that I was some kind of narcissistic sociopath. I cared about others (albeit some more deeply than others) and I did my part to help my fellow woman. But I didn't experience true Empathy with a capital E until Evyn. Every laugh, tear, and surprise I experienced right along with her, and again through her little sister. Cliché as it is, our first trip to Disneyland was by far the most fun I can remember having at a theme park. The terrifying thing about this kind of empathy is how little you start to care about your own experience, and the saying rings true—your heart is wandering around outside of your body and you follow the pieces around in a state of perpetual anxiety.
Being a mom forced me to grow some patience.
Patience with myself and with others. Which became this weird paradox of increasing patience with my increasingly demanding kids and a distinct decrease in my patience with all others. I became fierce . . . and not like Tyra Banks “smizing” fierce, but more like a hungry lioness on the hunt to feed her cubs. I was scary on occasion—just ask the preschool teacher who mistakenly put my daughters eye drops in her newly tubed ears. The real reward in growing patience is the ability to allow your kids to be obnoxious and make mistakes without losing your ever-loving mind.
Being a mom made me funny.
Not only in a dance around the room in a silly costume way, but also in an arsenal of potty humor kind of way. I now have an unending supply of jokes and anecdotes involving various body parts and fluids that I delight in telling my childless friends. I am also realizing that I never enjoyed anything as much as I enjoy making my girls laugh. I have never been as charming and interesting as during a dance party in my living room singing yucky songs with the girls like "We like to eat, eat, eat, ooey, gooey worm guts" to the tune of Apples and Bananas by Raffi. I was never as funny and interesting as I feel like I am now thanks to my personal little fan club that follows me around all the time and laughs at all my jokes.
Being a mom required me to let go.
I had to let go of the person I thought I was and the person I thought I would be. No more late nights at the club, no more throwing caution to the wind. No more solo trips to the grocery store, or quick stops at the salon for a polish change. Every waking moment is consumed by thoughts and decisions for the kids. I was not ready for the amount of change, and I had to consciously make the choice to let go of who I was and fully embrace the incredible gift karma had dropped into my lap. I had to accept that maybe what I had to be now was infinitely better than anything I could have imagined being before the girls. Just letting go of the plan and appreciating what life looks like after kids is the most difficult and terrifying act of self-realization an adult has to successfully complete in order to be a "good parent."
But that's just my opinion.