How becoming a mother made me a better person

So, here’s a confession: I’m a Type A personality.  I use Google Docs to organize every aspect of my business. We moved three weeks before my baby was born, and I was hell-bent on getting the house done (ie, unpacked and decorated) before she arrived. It irritated me that there was a big blank space on our office wall where artwork needed to go. That’s just a little bit of insight into my personality.

So here’s how I’ve changed…

I’m not living with as much guilt.

Before Charlie was born, I think I might have said to myself, “OMG [because that’s how I talk to myself], how am I going to cope with this?! What if the linen closet doesn’t get organized? What if I’m not able to peruse the blogosphere for business inspiration/ways to expand/things that will make me feel inadequate? What if I (gasp) don’t have time to organize our books by color so they look really cool?”  As it turns out, instead of worrying about those things, I just stopped doing them (but can I say, I’m so glad I did some of those things – like the linen closet – before she was born?!).  And really, my life is far better for it.

You see, in addition to feeling like I wanted to do these things, I also somehow managed to make myself feel really guilty if I didn’t do them.  If I had fun during the day, I felt like I should be working.  Thus, I didn’t take advantage of one of the best parts of working from home: freedom. Seriously, people.  I have no idea why I felt so compelled to complete (and dare I say stressed by the thought of?) such trivial tasks.  I no longer have time to do a lot of those things, and now I feel like my life is pared down to the essentials: I work only on what I have to, and I spend the majority of my time taking care of Charlie.  I am thrilled by the fact that “taking care of Charlie” encompasses such activities as: meeting other women with new babies and having a relaxed lunch in the park, going shopping for baby clothes, and and staring at the cutest face on the planet (granted this job also includes cleaning up projectile baby poop, but we’re not focusing on that right now). And guess what? A lot of that is fun, and I’m not feeling even one shred of guilt about it.

And as for using the Internet to better my business? I found that I didn’t need to use the Internet to better my business.  Reading “professional” blogs stressed me out. They made me feel like I should be moving faster, that my business isn’t expanding quickly enough, that I should be pumping out ready-made designs at an exponential rate. The stress squelched my creativity and made it hard to come up with original ideas.  Since I’ve stepped back from that, I’ve been able to come up with some new, creative ways to solve problems I’ve been pondering for at least a year.  It’s really refreshing.

I’ve developed patience.

The other way I’ve changed is that I have developed patience, which has surprised no one more than me.  To illustrate this point, I’ll tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, Y and I lived in Ohio.  In Ohio, they have car washes like nothing I’ve ever seen: they’re like the car washes at gas stations, but it’s just the car wash, and there’s a whole line of them.  One day, Y and I took the ole’ Prius to get a good scrubbing, and he asked me to choose which line to wait in.  I chose the one I thought would move the fastest, only to discover two minutes later that the line next to us was moving much more quickly.  Pointing at the faster lane, I told Y, “you should get in that line.” We had nowhere to be and nothing else to do, but I was really irritated that Y wouldn’t change lanes.

This story pretty much sums up my Type A personality.  I didn’t care that we had nowhere to be; we had a task, and we should finish it as quickly and efficiently as possible.Well.  Babies don’t allow you to do anything quickly and efficiently.  In fact, it seems like they try their darndest to make things go as slowly and inefficiently as possible.  Had I known this before having Charlie, I think I would have been very worried.  As it was, I already worried about how I would have a baby and not go completely insane.  What if I can’t handle how demanding she is?  What if her screaming gives me a migraine? What if I feel so overwhelmed, I just want to put her in the closet?  For crying out loud, the dog’s neediness annoyed me, and I knew she was nothing compared to a baby (although seriously, she is the neediest dog I’ve ever met).

I was really, really surprised by myself.  When Charlie cries, instead of thinking, “OMG this baby is crying AGAIN,” I think, “this poor kid. She is really upset and has no way to help herself.”  I think it’s my compassion for her that has actually made me into – gasp – a patient person.  Yes, seriously.  I am starting to consider myself a patient person.  I’m not nearly as annoyed by the little things as I used to be – baby related or not.  And I find myself thinking, “man, why is everyone in such a hurry?”  I can’t rush Charlie through a feeding, and I shouldn’t be rushing myself through my life.

I’ve become more relaxed about…well, everything.

I used to do thirty things at once.  I never watched TV without the laptop in one hand and the iPhone in the other. I never just drew – I had Hulu on in the background, or I was talking to a long-distance friend.

But having a baby makes you attend to one thing, most of the time. There’s no time for any of the other crap, and you have no choice but it let it go — because you only have this one responsibility. There’s no worrying about getting everything on the to do list done, because you knew that was impossible when you woke up. It’s an exercise in letting go.  And it’s awesome. I’m enjoying my life more.

So tell me, people – am I the only one who really didn’t expect this?  I hadn’t really anticipated that having a child would change me for the better…I actually hadn’t considered that aspect of it at all!  Mamas and mamas-to-be — have you thought about this? How has having a baby changed you – besides, of course, talking about poop all the time?

13 thoughts on “How becoming a mother made me a better person

  1. Michelle Loretta says:

    I love this, Sara!  For me, having a kid made me sweat the small stuff a lot less (like you said: be more relaxed)… there isn’t time to sweat out every detail.  And, I learned that it was usually just a huge waste of time… perfect doesn’t exist.

  2. Morgan Phelps Crane says:

    Love this!

    I still multi task and watch TV with the laptop & iPhone (I’m addicted) but I’m much better about going with the flow and recognizing that things are going to take longer. (except when driving, haha)

    I feel guilty sometimes when I procrastinate on work but it’s getting better.
    I’m glad you’re so happy! How do you like G diapers? Does that one have ruffles on the butt???

  3. Ashley says:

    YES. THIS. Everything you just wrote and then some.

    I do still try to multi-task (just this morning I stuck my babe in the baby bjorn & vacuumed and swept our floors), but now I realize that you can’t fit everything into every day, and that’s OK. Instead of taking one full day to clean like I used to, I clean as I go into each room of the house a little at a time.

    Especially now that he’s entered his 4th month and he’s growing and learning and is so curious about everything I’m doing, I look forward to him waking up from naps just as much as putting him down for one. 🙂 Loved this post!

  4. Ashley says:

    Thank you for this!  I don’t have a child and I probably won’t in the near future.  But this gives me hope that when I DO get there… I might actually become a better me.

    So often people complain about loosing their identity with a baby and all the negative things that go with it… I appreciate hearing the flip side about how becoming a mom makes us better people…

    THANK YOU!!

  5. brooke @ claremont road says:

    Wow, thank you for this, Sara! How you described yourself pre-baby is, well, EXACTLY who I am right now. And sometimes it’s exhausting.

    Nick and I were at the grocery store the other night and I wanted to get in, buy what was on our list, and get out. He, on the other hand, likes to check out everything in every aisle, even if we have no intention of buying it, and stroll. It drives me INSANE. But then I feel bad for getting snippy with him when we could actually be having fun together. Ultimately, we really had no reason to rush and nowhere important to be.

    I’m sure we’ll have kids someday soon, and I have worried that I’ll be even MORE type A when they come along, and continue being irked when my perfectly laid out schedule doesn’t go the way I planned… but after reading this, I’m glad there’s hope for actually becoming LESS type A and more relaxed! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

  6. vir says:

    Oh my gosh, Sara. I could have WRITTEN this post. Everything from the organize- linen-closet Type A pre-baby to now wondering why everyone is so rushed. I admit I’m not always patient, but I’m a great deal more patient and so much more relaxed than I was before K came.

    Hugs to little Charlie and to you!

    P.S. I just noticed at least 2 people who commented saying they’re like you are graphic designers (Hi Brooke!). Coincidence? Haha. I do think being so meticulous comes with the job and is even kind of a requirement to be successful in the field though. Interesting!

  7. Katie F. says:

    this is great!

    I would add that I feel so much more self confident since becoming a mom.  I used to worry about my weight/skin etc and while I still care about myself now, I don’t stress about these things.  Just looking into my sweet baby’s eyes I can see that she thinks I’m the best.  She doesn’t care if I have a zit!  It’s hard to explain, but I guess I feel like I have so much more purpose now, so I have less head space to even allow for the negativity?

    The little voice that used to tell me I was fat/ugly/whatever has quieted and GOD that is so liberating!

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Love this post. It makes me look forward to having a baby one day, because I hear from all mothers how it makes them better people. For me, with a type B personality (with type A aspects like being highly organized, loving lists, etc.), I hope it helps me become a more responsible, thorough and thoughtful person.

  9. Cindy Holland says:

    Thanks so much for today’s blog! I myself am a work from hom mom, with the second on the way. I was in tears today thinking about how to get everything done, and the 2nd isn’t even here yet. I need to remember to be more patient. And to find ways to make business run smoothly without always trying to get “a minute” on the computer.

  10. Sara • Stinkerpants says:

    Aw, I’m so glad that others have had the same experience I have!

    @Morgan – yeah, I’d say the iPhone is the one multi-tasking vice left.  And YES that gDiaper DOES have ruffles on the butt!!  Isn’t it the cutest thing ever?!  We LOVE our gDiapers.  We use them with cloth pre-fold inserts and are very happy.

    @Ashley – I expected to feel like I lost my identity, but I really don’t feel that way at all.  I guess I feel like I’ve evolved a bit?  I still feel like myself.

    @Brooke – I do wonder when she gets older and we have places to be if I’ll get stressed out and the Type A-ness will return.  I hope not!

    @Vir – that is so true!  I also think certain types of people are able to work for themselves – you have to be pretty focused and organized to actually get anything done.

    @Katie – that is really true. Babies are a reminder that there are more important things in life than your zit.  Anytime I’m upset about something, she just has to smile at me and I feel so much better!  So cheesy, but so true.

    @Cindy – good luck!!!  I hope everything goes well. 

    @Mom – you are hysterical. I hope you got something to clean up that pristine little tear!  Love you. 😀

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