Here's an overview of what I have learned in my first FULL year as a parent:
1. Before becoming a mother, I thought I knew what the words commitment, love, hurt, compassion, loyalty, dedication and sacrifice meant, but now I realize I was just scratching the surface. Its like when you become a parent, all of your emotions are intensified - you don't just love, you love HARD, and if someone or something hurts your child, it hurts you more than anything you could ever experience yourself. Your children's successes and failures become your own and you want to do everything you can to protect them.
2. All of the things that were really important to you before becoming a parent, become even more important to you. Your family in invaluable, your friends become your family, your financial security becomes less about whether you can splurge on that new pair of shoes for yourself and more about what you can do for your baby or your family now and in the future.
3. On a similar note, all of the things that were insignificant to you before, become even less significant. You have no energy to hold grudges, no desire to be around people that bring you down and no time to participate in idle gossip (well, except if its really good!)
4. Your time is precious. Sometimes I think about how quickly the past year of Amina's life went by and I start to panic, only 4 more years until she starts preschool! 15 years until she gets her driver's license! 20 years until I get to help plan her 21st birthday bash! I find myself rushing home from work early just to spend 5 or 10 extra minutes with her, when before I may have stayed 5 or 10 minutes later to finish up. Getting up in the morning doesn't seem so bad because I know I'll see that little goofy face. I'm sad on the rare days when I'm out late and don't get to see her before bedtime. I'm constantly brainstorming ways I can spend more time with her and less time with just about everyone else.
5. You want to nurture ALL children, not just your own. I work in a field where unfortunately I see abused and neglected children everyday. Before I had Amina, the social worker in me wanted to make sure the kids I worked with were "safe and had their basic needs met". Now, the mother in me makes me pull out my lotion to grease up those ashy elbows, buy a comb and brush from the store to brush those lint balls out, give you my sandwich if you're hungry, $3 to buy something for later and my cell phone number to call me if you need anything else.
6. You lose your tolerance for triflin' parents. As a parent who would do anything in the world to make sure my child has what she needs and wants, people who put their children behind themselves or their mate or their addiction make me sick. The social worker in me understands it, but the parent in me is disgusted by it.
7. The stakes are high. Raising children is the most important and most difficult job I have ever had. Trying to figure out how to manage my life and raise a productive member of society without screwing up consumes most of my time.
There's a ton of other things I can add, but these are the things that have been on my mind the past few days.
Amina was fortunate enough to spend the Mother's Day weekend with her mother and father, grandmother and grandfather and two great-grandmothers. Such a blessing because not everyone is lucky enough to have all that family around.
I know it's a little belated but Happy Mother's Day to all of you Mothers out there! What does motherhood mean to you?