From becoming more responsible to reliving my favorite stories with my children, being a parent has been a blast! While it has helped me “grow up” I have most certainly grown down. I am still new to the extremely rewarding field of being a mother. My oldest child is three years old and I have a set of twins that just turned one. I know the years ahead will bring much more adventure, but I’ve learned so much in my three years of motherhood.
First off, “adulting”…
Becoming a mother has definitely made me more responsible. I began doing all of the things I should have been doing as an adult beforehand. Like keeping up on doctor’s appointments, not going out to bars, and keeping out of trouble. I actually clean my house and do my laundry in a timely manner now. I make healthier decisions when it comes to food. I learned to manage my bipolar disorder and take care of my mental health much better than before. I have learned how to teach a child, how to explain things on a simplistic level.
Having children has simplified my mind and life.
I have learned to look into the future, to plan, to prioritize tasks. I have also learned how to multitask in ways I never thought possible. I’ve juggled eating a bagel while having a conversation with my partner on the phone with two babies at the breast nursing and trying to get Big Sissy to stop gallivanting around the house tossing foam blocks into the air like snowflakes shooting from Elsa’s hands… Though my home is so full of chaos it has prompted me to begin simplifying things. Simplifying my thoughts, my home, my task management, my time, and my communication. Sure, it’s trying at times, but I’ve developed so much patience and become so much happier. I’ve officially grown up.
Secondly, THE FEELS…
Like every expecting parent, I had heard so many people say something like, “You don’t know just how much you can love someone until you have a child.” I would brush it off because I thought I knew the depths of my heart. Then I heard little Marley Jane cry for the first time. Then I saw her tiny mouth and pencil-thin lips opening, rooting for the breast. Then I saw her standing in a dress for the first time. Then I heard her first sentence. Then I felt her pat my head when I was on the floor in tears, overwhelmed with college and raising three kids, and say the words, “It’s okay, Mommy, you don’t have to cry.” It is literally like someone has tied strings to points forming a big circle in your chest, and pulls on them.
I finally understand the meaning of “heartstrings.”
Then I had two more. I get to watch all of the little firsts again, times two. I get to see them learning and playing together. I watch Big Sissy play with her little brother and sister. I’ve watched her fall in love with them over the past year and it fills my heart like a water balloon. But not all of the feelings that come with children are so positive and happy…
At times I think children should come with a prescription for some kind of anti-anxiety medication. I began to fear for their tiny fragile lives. I have to fight myself to allow them out into the world. I’m afraid I’ll mess them up somehow, afraid someone will blow up their school, afraid they will catch Ebola and die a horrible death. Part of this obscene anxiety is just me, but every parent I know has some form of anxiety like this. The worry that they will be kidnapped, break a bone, or witness something horrible.
Then there is the frustration. I never understood how someone could shake a poor innocent little baby, then I had three crying and screaming at the same time. I looked around at the mess of toys, blankets, and Daddy’s socks all over the floor. I heard their pained little voices wanting me right then, pleading for me to pay attention to their needs, and not those of their siblings. I finished changing the diaper I was working on and had to walk to the back room for a time out. I felt that if I had not walked away when I did and one more thing happened like a kid pulling my hair or biting my nipple I would have turned into the hulk and smashed something (figuratively speaking).
I learned to care for myself first.
If I am sleep-deprived, in a sour mood, and have not had a break away from the children in a week, chances are I’m going to end up exploding on someone, be it the kids or Daddy. I learned that I need to take time for some “me time” and maintenance. I had to allow myself some time to myself to shave my legs, go knit with some friends, or just go have a coffee and journal by myself. I had to permit myself to have the occasional shower and poo alone. I’m extremely lucky to have such a wonderful man that is so understanding and more than happy to relieve me of my duties for a while, whenever I am in need.
Finally, I get to be a kid again…
Possibly my favorite part about being a mother is sharing the things that I love with my children. I know this will only get better as they get older. I get to relive my favorite stories all over again with my kids through books, video games, television shows, and movies. We also get to embark on new adventures together like exploring C.S. Lewis’ epic world of Narnia. As much as I enjoyed reading books as a child, I managed to somehow miss The Chronicles of Narnia. Personally, I blame my love for Middle-earth, Hogwarts, and Wonderland. In my younger grades I got sucked in by The Royal Diaries and the Magic Tree House series. Now I’m finally reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, aloud with my eager three-year-old.
I also get to share Pokemon with the kids. The show and games came to the U.S. when I was six years old and I have loved the franchise since. I have saved back three Game Boy Advance consoles (two SP versions) and a few copies of Fire Red and Ruby. Of course, back when I had my big original Game Boy, atomic purple Game Boy Color, or limited edition Pokemon Game Boy Color, the thought of kids never crossed my mind and they were traded for Play Station 2 games. As the years pass, I will be able to introduce my children to Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and all of the video game characters that shaped me as a child. I’m counting down the months until Marley is old enough for a 2DS!
Not only do I get to relive stories of characters dear to my heart, I get to relearn.
My little girl is too young to understand most of what Bill Nye is saying but that doesn’t stop her from loving to watch Bill Nye The Science Guy! The PBS show that set forth my love of space and science is even better as an adult (though some parts are outdated). It had been so long since I watched Reading Rainbow I forgot that they show you how things are made, teach you about science, and recommend some great books! MJ loves seeing how things are made, which brings me to Mister Rogers Neighborhood. This is another classic that I loved dearly as a child, it really fueled my curiosity. I recently discovered that the Neighborhood of Make-Believe lives on in the animated PBS series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood! I look forward to the coming years when I can introduce her to MythBusters, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and Sci Fi Science.
In my few short years being a mother I’ve grown up and become a “responsible adult.” I have developed a heart the size of Texas. I have become insanely paranoid. I have learned to take care of myself. I’ve learned so much about how us humans learn. I’ve gotten to revisit parts of my childhood that I had honestly forgotten. Sure, being a mother has helped me grow up, but it has certainly made me grow down too! I hope that I am able to raise some knowledge-seeking, imaginative, creative, and thoughtful geek kids. How has being a parent and growing up helped you grow down?