Having children changes everything.
This is not an experience everyone will have, certainly not one everyone will have in their twenties. Before I became a mother, I questioned if or when I would have children. I wasn't sure I had maternal instincts (which is hilarious since that's basically what I run on now) or how you just make the decision to bring a human into the world. Have you thought about how monumental that is? That your body can grow an actual living person to put into a spot on this earth where, before your physical efforts, there was no one? I've done it twice and it still blows my mind.
One thing I was keenly aware of, however: I knew having kids would change everything. I'm working on an article forFellow in which I've been discussing this with other urban parents--the changes to their lifestyles once adding kids, and etc. In my pre-motherhood selfishness, that was what I considered "the change" to be: Obligatory adjustments to my life because I was responsible for a small person.
Oh, and there is some of that. I hear I'll never sleep the same again. I will probably never, ever be on time again. I will never watch a Disney movie the same, nor will I be able to do anything in life without thinking of the Daniel Tiger jingle that accompanies it. Thanks to pregnancy food aversions, I doubt I'll ever love cucumbers again. (Weird?) I only spend limited, very scheduled amounts of time with some of my best friends; and Trevor and I have tried to find ways to reserve our night confined to the house after 7 as time for us to be together. All of these things are changes you make after having kids.
But this was not the everything that changed as I grew to know my daughters, as I held their little, squirmy bodies, as I watched their personalities peek through, as I experienced big things and small things in life through their bright eyes. The everything that really changed was the everything inside of me. Who I am as a person is forever altered because they are now my people--the people that I brought on to this earth.
For someone who writes a lot about motherhood, I often struggle with how specifically to convey this exact thing. Because it's easy to joke about the ups-and-downs of a day that involves playing kitchen and poopy diapers; and it's not so hard to draw inspiration from a childlike perspective; and it's certainly fun to tell the little stories I've been collecting along the way. But at it's very core, why can I say nothing more than "motherhood has changed me," when it literally has turned everything upside down?
Today I read this:
Becoming a parent is difficult to talk and write about, not because the words are hard to find (though they are), but because when you find them, they feel too intimate to share. The smells and sounds and stirrings of the heart are individual and holy. There’s a sense in which the universal experience is yours alone when the opposite is actually true. You hesitate to say anything at all, as if staying quiet better preserves the miracle.
And so today, I tell you, having children has changed everything for me. It probably will for you too, if or when you have children. But I can't say why or how. You probably won't be able to either. Which is why is motherhood will forever be the most phenomenal thing a person could do with her life.