“I’m so much more patient,” I heard time and again as other women graduated from mom’s group. I laughed inwardly: That is so not me.
In some ways, becoming a mother has actually made me more impatient. I noticed myself getting worked up when I drove around the Target parking lot, unable to find the exit. I mentally berated myself when I took a wrong turn while driving. I tried not to lose it when the plane we boarded sat on the tarmac, waiting for a repair.
I think I’m less tolerant of inconveniences like these because my time is more precious to me these days. If a few spare moments are wasted on, say, trying to turn left against traffic, I think of all the things I could have done with that extra ninety seconds. Like eat a banana or go pee uninterrupted.
I also stress about how long I have until Edie hits a wall. She feels a bit like the timer on the game Catchphrase: You know the jolting bzzz is coming, but you don’t know when. As the seconds tick by, you anxiously await the teeth-rattling noise that screams, “TIME’S UP!” I do what I can to ensure she reaches that point when we’re at home and I can tend to her needs (or simply not be stuck in rush hour traffic when she rehearses her death metal song).
Of course I’m patient in other ways I never was before. I can sing the ABC song five million times in a row. I’m content to sit on the floor and retrieve the ball Edie sends across the room again and again and again. And I pick her up for a snuggle whenever she tires of playing with her blocks or rattle, even if I set her down two seconds before.
I have also become more forgiving of myself. Pre-baby, I would dwell on a mistake I made for days—even years. (Seriously.)
The other day, though, when I thought I’d transfer a sleeping Edith from her car seat into her crib—and she woke up, of course—I told myself off for a few minutes. And then moved on. I made a mental note and, the next day, let her continue to nap in her car seat. Lesson learned.
Child development experts warn against letting your baby nap in a car seat, for example. But I’ve come to realize that I am a mother in the real world; realistically, I can’t follow every piece of advice or hang my head every time the Expert in my head wags his finger at me. My daughter will grow up just fine, even if she takes a nap in her car seat several times a week.
This change is one I’m incredibly proud of. I want to model self-love and forgiveness to Edith. I want to show her that it’s ok to make mistakes and that goofing up doesn’t make you a bad person. I want her to be compassionate to herself so I must show myself that same kindness.
I will constantly evolve as a person and a mother. I’ll adapt to new circumstances and learn from the past. With every change, I hope to grow into a woman my daughter will respect, love and admire—even if that person can’t find her way out of a Target parking lot.
How has parenthood changed you?
As I just wrote, it’s a tradition for women graduating from mom’s group to share what they have learned, how they’ve changed and what advice they have for other new mamas. Next I’ll share a few pieces of advice.