The things I didn’t know about myself… until I became a parent

Becoming a parent is an enlightening experience. You see life through a whole new lens – you gain an instant appreciation (and admiration) for your own parents; the screaming children on a plane or in a restaurant create empathy (for the parents) instead of anger; in the presence of your kids you develop critical eyes (and ears) for television and song lyrics and others’ conversations, constantly filtering for appropriateness. But the biggest change for me has been within… or a new vantage point to myself as I discover things about me that were unknown before kids.

  • I can handle a lot more than I ever thought.  Not that I ever considered myself weak or incapable, but I had no idea how much I could deal with – turns out it’s a lot.  I don’t always do it gracefully, but darn it, I can deal with two screaming kids, I can get dinner cooked, I can haul them upstairs kicking and shouting at the tops of their lungs, I can change the diaper of a kid who will not. stay. still. I can get us dressed and out the door (and on time occasionally); I can manage (and enjoy) a full time job. Yep, I can handle a lot.
  • I am a lazy person disguised as a motivated person.  So not all the revelations are positive. I’ve also discovered that I have some inner “lazy” in me.  Those who know me may find this surprising because I am a go-go-go kind of person, but becoming a parent has shown me that I have to battle lethargy more than before. Here’s the thing – pre-kids, being lazy wasn’t really being lazy. It was relaxing, it was allowed, I had time for it, it didn’t impact anyone else (most of the time). I am someone who gets inspired and motivated by things I want to do, so when you have no (parenting) responsibility, you can just do what you want. However, once you have a child, your world is, for the most part, no longer yours. The days of doing what you want when you want are gone. See ya later. And so for me, the laziness follows the lack of motivation around the mundane tasks that just have to get done. The laziness shows up when I’m not doing something I should be doing (discipline, consistency, quality time) because dang it, I’m tired.  So my friends, while I may seem like a very motivated person (and some days I am) that’s really only half the story.
  • I really like kids.  I’m sure anyone who is not a parent who has spent any length of time with someone else’s kids has questioned how much they really like kids. Some kids are charming and it’s easy, but then there are those other kinds of kids… People say that it will be different with your own, and it’s true.  Because while before I could only take kids in small doses because of all the slobber and snot and dirt and poop and the mess that follows them everywhere, with my own kids none of it fazes me. Sure, there have been some experiences that have necessitated a shower (immediately), and there have also been some gagging moments, but I really, really like my kids (understatement of the year).  And being on the parent side of this stuff has softened my feelings with other kids as well.  Turns out, I do really like kids.
  • I didn’t need all that sleep I used to get.  How incomprehensible it would have been to think I could function (reasonably well) on 6 or 7 hours of sleep.  And if I get 8 or 9, talk about a refresher. But in my pre-kid days, I thought I needed much more than that. Back then the thought of an 8am class was an impossibility; getting up at 6am on a weekend was just not going to happen.  But now here I am, sleeping less and living more and it is a really awesome thing.
  • I am quite the softy.  Cry at a TV commercial? Say what?? Used to be a pretty rare occurrence. But now, especially those darn Publix commercials (and this one) can get me every time.  And songs, oh yeah, Taylor Swift, you can get me.  And hearing stories about sick or injured kids, folks who have been married for 75 years and their spouse passes away, demonstrations of remarkable sportsmanship – all get the water works going. I think the “softy” was in me all along, just needed the pregnancy/post pregnancy hormone shake-up to bring it out. Okay, so I just watched all the videos I just linked and I’m a blubbering mess. Guess I should issue the mascara alert.
  • That I could get this pale.  Seriously y’all. It’s bad. When I go home and see all my tan and fabulous Florida friends, I get those stares that say you look good, but damn you are pale! So two things here – first, I didn’t know that my skin could actually get this white, and second, I would have never guess that I wouldn’t care. Sure, it helps to have a red-headed, fair skinned husband to compare myself to every day, but in all seriousness, I don’t have time to tan, and it is totally fine with me. One day, when I can actually take the kids to the pool and relax, maybe I’ll work on my tan. But until then, it just is what it is – I am pale and it’s okay.

The old meThe old me – tan and happy.

The new me
The new me – pale and even happier.

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