The experience of having a small, fragile human being rely on you every single day is life-changing. When I was pregnant, people would say this to me and they struggled to put it into words the exactness of their feelings. In a small way I understood what they were telling me, but I needed my own experience to fully comprehend the extremes of parenthood.
It’s life-evolving as much as it is life-changing because I could never have predicted how my life would change as my kids have grown. I have grown right alongside of them. They teach me every single day, and it makes my heart burst with joy to think about it. The tantrums melt from my memory (mostly) when I think about our roles as parents to Dylan and Olivia. It’s a journey.
There are many things that are different in my life since having two bundles of joy – but these are the most glaring ways I have evolved as a person.
Managing priorities is a talent.
I was pretty solid on the concept that having children would adjust how I spent my free time, but I had to learn how to champion my decisions (and learn to move forward despite judgement or my own guilt). I also didn’t realize that I would have to be so forceful in my attempt to spend my time in a way that fit my family and my/our social life. Sometimes this wasn’t easy and sometimes it caused some friction. Luckily, I have a strong sense of my priorities — and I feel strongly that we all have to define these for ourselves. In return, I have to offer this same understanding to others.
Bribing children is okay but judgement is not.
I remember once (before I had kids) being shocked that one of my friends bribed her kids with candy to get them to behave. (I know, right?!) I quickly learned that bribery is a fairly essential element of parenting. In certain moments, giving them M&M’s is worth the return in investment. It’s give-and-take every single day and judging other parents doesn’t make you a better parent. It makes you self-righteous.
I have found, in general, that I am not as quick to judge, and this includes all areas of my life. But, like most of us, this is certainly a work in progress, and it’s been a welcome change in my life.
If I want to “have it all”, I have to ask for help.
As the oldest of five children, I tend stereo-typically be in charge. I like to have control (my sister calls it bossy), and I think I can do it all by myself. After having children and gaining professional experience, I have grown the topic surrounding women being able to “have it all”. It’s such a bad, misleading message. I would rather discuss what makes me feel successful as a parent and as a professional — this allows me to set own definition with my own measurements. As I have developed my own definition, I have become more comfortable asking for help and, most importantly, seeking and accepting support from others. It takes a village, and you have to devote time to developing the village that is right for you!
Experience is a useful tool.
There is never one answer, and I think that time and experience contributed greatly to this evolution. From experience, I know that experience is only useful if I am willing to reflect and hold myself accountable to being a growing, evolving human being and parent. On good day and bad days, I have to gather what I’ve learned up in my arms and stumble out of bed and try again. The picture below doesn’t tell our whole story, but it’s a part of it.