Unexpected Side-effects of Motherhood

Side-effects of MotherhoodI took a much needed holiday last weekend. Took the munchkin to Center Parcs. She loved it – an awesome place to take your kids to. Hopefully you’ll get another post on that. The holiday also gave me a chance to slow down and look back at the last 22 months. This is what has come out of this time of introspection – the unexpected side-effects of motherhood.

1. Laughing Exponentially More

I always thought of myself as a terrible audience for stand up comedians. Even when I was most amused, my reaction seldom exceeded a wide grin or a quiet chuckle. My daughter has changed that all. I now laugh with abandon over things I never imagined would be funny. A wallop of yogurt the lands on the nose instead of the mouth; the toppling of a Lego tower; the excitement of a bump/fall that belies our clumsy natures; the sensation of bubbles bursting on face; getting soaked in the rain…. Each experience is such a source of joy for my daughter and as she laughs my husband and I find ourselves joining in for some amazing family moments.

I read somewhere that 4-year olds laugh 300 times a day while 40-year olds laugh 4 times a day. Unbelieveable! So I watched my daughter closely. I don’t think she laughs 300 times a day (may be she has inherited some of my genes after all) but she does laugh a lot more than we do. So if you find you are not laughing enough – you may want to consider procreation.

2. B’bye Awkward Elevator Silences

The silent elevator rides where everyone avoids eye contact, the ones that end with a cautious “have a good day” are a thing of the past for us. Most adults will love entertaining a child even if it’s for ten seconds. For the ones that don’t my daughter doles out a special treatment. She leans in her face towards the stranger in the carriage and stares at them straight in the eye. She then offers a grin or a tiny “hello”. If she is super interested in them she will offer them anything she has on her – a pen, her hat, and once even a half eaten biscuit. Conversations always flow from there. I can now always depend on my little angel to break the ice on our elevator rides.

Last night we were in the elevator with these banker types that were a bit tough to crack. They were having a quiet private conversation that even my two-year old could sense we were not invited into. So she politely waited until we reached our floor. She almost walked out and then whipped around and said loudly, “gooodni, seeya” with a big grin. That was hard to ignore! And then she started talking to them – wouldn’t stop until I dragged her out.

3. Making New Mom- and Dad-friends

As you get older you realise you are making fewer new friends. You have fewer opportunities to casually meet new people and even less time to nourish and grow a new relationship. As a parent you have even less time with every spare minute spent on your kids. But conversely you suddenly have more opportunities to meet new people – at children’s parties, at the nursery/school, your local NCT coffee mums group etc. etc. Even though time is sparse you actually meet these people a lot because of the time you spend chaperoning your child to these things. It doesn’t hurt that your child provides so many common subject areas for all of you to bond over. Soon these friends become your new bffs. You share with them intimate secrets of your trials with parenthood and they become an amazing source of support cheering you on.

To paraphrase one of my new mom-friends “It’s amazing how I want to hangout with the people I met because of my son, without my son”.

4. Becoming less Judgmental

Right to the day my daughter was born I had very clear notions of the kind of parent I’d be and the kind of child my daughter would be. I didn’t want to be that mom who fed her parent junk or who’s child misbehaved in the supermarket. The last 22-months have made me realise how naive I was. While I do try to feed my daughter healthy food and teach her good manners, I know now that there will be bad days. Days when an icecream becomes a big part of her meal; when I give up and plonk her before the tv; and when she throws a fit in the middle of the sidewalk (yes that has happened a few times now). Now when I see a child eating candy for lunch, this is what I think:

“I know how you feel, you stranger who’s child is eating candy for lunch – a bit of guilt, some frustration, some relief that your child is not screaming her head off, and finally hope that the next meal will be better. Don’t worry you are not alone. Tomorrow will be a better day.”

Surprisingly I’ve also seen this attitute spread to things that are not related to motherhood. Yeah – I will soon be called the “enlightened one”.

5. I Love Mornings

No really I do and I’ve saved the best for the last.

I used to be that girl who struggled to wake up even at 10am and when I finally got out of bed I hated life and wanted to obliterate mornings from all existence. On somedays a shower and two cups of tea couldn’t save me. So what  changed? My little girl does a better job of sleeping through the night than most kids, but I still don’t get enough sleep. I’m often working until 1-2 in the morning because I get my best work done then. But picture this, and you will understand.

Every morning between 6:30 and 7:30 am my little darling cries out to me from her room “mummeeeeeee”. Groggy eyed I stumble into her room and get her out of her cot. She clambers into bed with us and for the next ten minutes gives the world’s best cuddles. (No, I am not biased, they truly are the world’s best cuddles.) She then sits up and starts nudging me off the bed with the words “milk, milk”. Still groggy, but a bit more awake I heat her a glass of milk and make myself a cup of tea. She and I then sit together arm-in-arm on the sofa with a blanket draped over our feet and chug down our drinks together. Try beating that, breakfast in bed!

So now tell me how your life has changed after children…

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