The Secret #11 Most Surprising Thing I Learned My First Year as a Mother

I never really posted about it, or even mentioned it to anyone in real life, but I was really nervous, even a little terrified, of having these babies. Partly because holy shit twins, and because I’d never had my own babies before, so I was scared of how hard it would be and what life would suddenly be like. But I realize now that I was also scared because I didn’t know *who* I would be. I thought I’d magically turn into/have to become someone different, someone who was beatifically selfless, and endlessly patient, and mother-y adult-y, and of course focused *only* on her babies.

A long time ago, I wrote about the things that surprised me the most about my first year of motherhood.

A few days later, reading a comment somewhere, I realized the biggest, most important change that surprised me:

I still feel like myself.

I didn’t become a whole new person once I had grown two humans with my body. It didn’t magically change my personality, my likes and dislikes.

Now, to be sure, plenty of things about my life have changed. I have a lot less time to myself, weekends aren’t just for sleeping and lazing about the house anymore, etc etc.

But the core of who I am is still very much there. I’m definitely the same person I was before I had babies. I realize this shouldn’t have been a revelation, but I think in Western culture “motherhood” is such its own idealized persona and identity and pigeonhole. There isn’t a lot of open discussion about how motherhood and the rest of a woman’s life co-exist, with the exception of an awestruck, how did you do it all?! When the reality is that millions of women are doing all of it, all the fucking time, and just living their full, chaotic lives.

I do think motherhood is a tough, exhausting job. Stay-at-home-parenthood is an EXTREMELY tough job, especially with twins. (I only did it for a few months, and it wasn’t even full time.) I completely respect moms and dads who stay home with their kids.

But no, I don’t think it’s the world’s hardest job.

Many people say that having children is the best thing they’ve ever done. And honestly, I’m not sure I feel that way. I’ve had some incredible adventures in my life, all of which have made me the person I am now. Those past experiences can still hold up as something amazing that enriched me, while parenthood can feel like an ongoing experiment sometimes! And now I get to use my past adventures to enrich and shape my kids’ experience, and share things from my own life with them, seeing it through their fresh innocent eyes.

It is amazing to be a parent. To be the hero, the one who matters most, who is the end-all, be-all to a tiny person. I am incredibly grateful, and awed, that I am two people’s mother. That is insane! It’s such a gift, and it can be a burden too. (Sometimes the weight, the enormity, the miraculousness makes me tear up, even five years later.)

But I also still get to be me, an entire, well-rounded adult human outside of parenting.

Some links to read that are more eloquent than I:

Motherhood isn’t the “world’s toughest job”

Newsflash: Motherhood is not the world’s hardest job

You probably already know The Honest Toddler and Bunmi Laditan, who is the genius behind it. She is goddamn BRILLIANT. Follow her immediately if you aren’t already. I read this post of hers and was like YES OMG YES:

I thought having children would make me a mother. Instead it made me a person with children.

I look in the mirror and instead of seeing the beloved, timeless archetype, I’m just me.

when the word “mama” slips out of my youngest’s lips I’m still surprised and honored. You talking to me? Surely, there’s someone more deserving of that title, I think, looking around, but no, he’s addressing this unkempt collage of contradictions and reluctance. The keeper of all things.

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