Motherhood brings with it emotions and thoughts that we did not know existed. It develops women in a way we cannot explain and the simple notion of becoming a mother can change and emotionalise relationships with parents, husbands, family members and friends. However, does motherhood really change a woman as a person? Do we ever revert back to the woman we were pre-pregnancy? Can we put our hand on our hearts and say that we have remained ‘exactly’ the same person and have been unaffected by motherhood?
I believe wholeheartedly, from my experience, that it is inevitable and unquestionable that nurturing, growing and giving birth to another human being has huge implications on who we are as an individual. Fundamentally, with or without children we naturally age, mature and grow in personality but the birth of a child softens and enhances elements of our being beyond recognition.
It is mother’s nature for instincts to develop that we had not experienced or even given a second’s thought to before. Motherhood teaches so many lessons and whilst, it is an enormous learning curve, it is also incredibly character building and self satisfying. Never before did we have to develop such inept attributes as patience, negotiation skills and more importantly, selflessness. It may, at times, be laborious and often an uphill struggle but when a woman gives birth to a child, she is resolved to giving up a part of herself to develop the role of another human being in this world. We do the best job we can and our children know only the mother who raises them. They are oblivious to our life before children, the carefree days of our existence without them in our lives. The humour and ease of our nature before they tested each element! Yet, we naturally do not resent them for it despite often yearning a regeneration of what our life once consisted of.
However, in all honesty, would any of us go back to ourselves pre-children? Would we want to be the person we were before their entrance into this world? Of course, there are many times in the last ten years that I have yearned for my pre-self. More recently, as my children test me and push limits I didn’t know existed, I find myself being the nagging, responsible, conditioned mum I thought I would never become. I often try to take a check on myself and wonder where I lost myself in the mayhem of school runs, homework, tantrums and household chores. Why can’t I be so carefree and blasÃ©? Why am I constantly on their case and unfalteringly nagging them about manners, sharing, eating, fighting, sleeping? Will my children ever understand that I once was fun and easy going or will their memory of me be warped? There are times I try to rationalise my mood swings with my children and explain my ‘grumps’ to them, yet they respond so flippantly and knowingly that ‘I am just a mummy’ and it is at these times that I realise my nagging is like water off a duck’s back to them. It is totally accepted and unjudged. Those simple words ‘you are just a mummy’ say it all. We are all and one!
However, is it unjudged and accepted from a partner’s perspective when we change? What is interesting is that said partner generally knows and loves the pre-children woman better than the post-children mother. They are the ones that have to evolve, accept and adapt to what we, as women, become when they embark upon a family with us. We hope and expect too that with fatherhood, they too change and become more responsible, more secure in themselves, less demanding of attention but softer and understanding. Their role as our partner is the most affected and more often than not it is the nuturing side that is highlighted as the more positive aspect of them accepting us as mothers. Many marriages are enhanced by parenthood.
However, we cannot neglect the fact and take into consideration that many are not. Divorce rates are at their highest because many couples find it near impossible to find common ground where parenting is concerned. We all approach relationships with ideals and romanticise about futures together but when a child appears to secure the bond of marriage or partnership, often the opposite occurs and what is left are two people who cannot find in themselves the two souls that came together pre-children. Why can’t they find them?
Basically, because they are lost in the past. They are lost in new lives and what we had solely for each other, now has to be shared amongst more demanding and needy individuals. It all sounds incredibly negative and it questions whether it is worth it when having children can be detrimental to relationships and personalities that were otherwise happy and oblivious to what change could bring. Much is sucked out of us as mothers so it is no wonder we change the person we are but on the positive side, a softness appears and takes over. We learn to care as we were cared for. We learn to protect and hold that little being who relies wholeheartedly on our confidence in life. This individual we grew inside us is the only person who will ever know what our hearts sound like from the inside. It is so true to say that anyone can make you smile. Many people can make you cry but it takes someone special to make you smile with a tear in your eye. Only the true love of being a mother can give you that gift.
Motherhood is an incredible gift and, if we are lucky, it lives with us for the rest of our lives. Yes, we change, relationships change but with it we learn to appreciate the love and affection we were given by the parents that raised us. We can only acknowledge the hurdles our respective parents faced by experiencing them ourselves. It teaches us what we took for granted as children and we learn respect. In turn our children will grow up, they will learn from us and they too will change but, as mothers we will always hold their heart in ours. We will let them go as they will let us go and in that, we will return to an element our old selves. If marriage has survived or new love has appeared, time and energy will regain strength. What we will have learnt is that the love within motherhood will far outweigh what we had to surrender in our personalities and relationships to help our children grow.
By Behind Every Bump