We focus a lot on the ways that motherhood changes us. In particular, we tend to talk about the challenges we face or how our lives are no longer just “ours” and how little time we have to do the things we used to do. We acknowledge the profound love we have for our tiny little humans, but we also recognize that raising those tiny little humans is some of life’s hardest work.
As the holiday season approaches, it occurred to me that aside from the amazing (and less than amazing) aspects of motherhood, I’ve already been gifted with a pretty incredible thing. An intangible, priceless gift. Motherhood has made me a better person.
- I’m hyper-aware of my actions and behavior. I think constantly about what I’m doing, what my daughter is seeing/hearing, and whether or not it aligns with the example I want to be for her. I’m asking myself over and over again if I’m living my values. Always reassessing what those values are and aligning them with what I hope she indirectly learns from me.
- Motherhood has pushed me to address my social anxiety head on. I’m awkward. It’s just who I am. I often avoid social things altogether for fear of not being accepted, but motherhood has changed that. Not necessarily the awkward part or the fear of rejection, but I’m much more willing to meet with other moms and groups because it means that my daughter gets to socialize and make new friends. I push aside my own insecurities because I know it will benefit my daughter – and guess what? It’s benefiting me, too!
- I no longer over-extend myself/my time. All of a sudden I have no problem prioritizing my time. Now that I have a little human that depends on me, I’m much more willing to say “no” when it’s necessary and/or in our best interest.
- I’m more conscious of my social media use. The last thing I want is for my daughter to see me hovering over a device all day long. Even worse – for her to someday ask me why I’m always looking down at my phone rather than paying attention to her. That thought is constantly in the back of my head when I pull out my phone and it pushes me to check myself with my use/frequency of social media.
- I practice self-love. As soon as I became a mother, I knew I needed to change the way I viewed myself. This one isn’t easy, but I’m working on it; and that’s a start. I watch how I speak about myself and my body. I’m practicing loving the ME in the mirror, imperfections and all, so that when my little girl looks up at me, she doesn’t see me picking apart my appearance.
- My marriage is stronger. We want to show our daughter what it looks like to have a strong partnership based on mutual respect, unconditional love, humility in our mistakes, and the importance of playfulness. We push ourselves to meet those standards every single day (even if some days are harder than others).
- My motivation has increased. This directly ties into #1, but when you know that this little person is watching everything you do, it suddenly motivates you to accomplish things that may have been goals, but were too scary to try to tackle previously. Since having my daughter, I’ve run three half marathons, committed to weekly group fitness classes, entered into a new job position, set new career goals; and I’m only just beginning!
- I look for opportunities to express my gratitude. More on this in an upcoming blog post – but it’s suddenly become extremely important to me to emphasize gratitude. Life can be hard, but we can always find something to be grateful for. Living in that space of gratitude is exactly what we need to surface our intrinsic happiness.
- I embrace failure as a learning experience. Motherhood is hard. If I beat myself up over every single failure, I’d live a miserable life. Parenting has pointed out all of my imperfections and I’ve learned to embrace every failure that comes my way and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow for next time.
- Preserving memories is a priority. I’ve never taken so many pictures and journaled so many entries in my entire life. I want my daughter to have a boatload of wonderful memories documented for her to look back on and smile.
- We make healthier eating decisions. It’s a little bit tougher to eat out every night or skip dinner in favor of dessert when you’ve got a little one around. You definitely can’t feed them a balanced meal while choosing to eat pizza yourself. We want those little bodies to grow healthy and strong, and in turn, we’re making better choices for the entire family.
- I’m emphasizing service to others. Our example will shape the little people our children become, right? I want my kiddo to see what a gift it is to serve others – for them but also for ourselves. It’s something we’ve talked about doing over and over, but now we make it a priority.
- I work to demonstrate the importance of experiences over things. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter is the first grandchild in the family and she has her fair share (and more) of toys and things – but we also work to demonstrate that experiences and family and intrinsic happiness are so much more important than a collection of things.
- Balance is of the utmost importance now. All of a sudden, I work really hard to maintain balance. I have to create balance so that when I’m home, I am present. Now I do things for me, I make family a priority, and I keep work at work.
- I cherish every moment – good or bad. I know my baby isn’t going to be a baby forever and that time seems to be passing in the blink of an eye, so I’m choosing to be grateful for every single moment. The tantrums won’t last, but the snuggles won’t either.
What has motherhood gifted you?