I find myself (sometimes unwillingly) thinking about the past year and a half or so as I walk around the house and find duplos in odd places. For example, the bathroom sink. There’s a duplo block on the counter by the bathroom sink and I have no idea how it got there.
It’s odd, to be honest. I never saw myself becoming a parent, and I have to say, I now consider myself more than a parent. I consider myself a mom. (Hear that, Past Me? Remember all those surveys you posted on your Livejournal and MySpace saying you would never have kids, gosh? Well, guess what? You’re a mom!) The duplos (and the shape blocks, and the plushies, and the baby clothes, etc) have become a part of the scenery. And it’s not just the house that’s changed, either. Life is completely, totally different for me having a little person around. I think, from getting pregnant period, to deciding to breastfeed, to using cloth diapers, the thing that’s surprised me the most is that I’ve become a stay-at-home mom. That right there is something I never expected to happen.
Truth be told, though, I’m not sure what I expected to happen. We didn’t plan much before I got pregnant, we just knew we wanted a family. For a while we considered putting her into daycare, but when that ended up being completely unfeasible for us (daycare is seriously expensive, holy moly), we looked at me staying home. I’d expected to stay in the workforce for a long, long time. I had no idea what I’d make a career out of, but testing is fun for me and I enjoy it. I think I would’ve ended up testing for the rest of my life had the nugget not come along. Looking back I don’t know if I would’ve been happy or not. Any higher-paying positions in the same field would end up with more managerial duties than testing and I really would not have been happy with that. I think I lucked out being a stay-at-home mom. It’s more rewarding than any job I can possibly think of and I can’t imagine not being around all the time to watch Arya grow up.
On top of being a stay-at-home mom, I’m actually planning on starting my own at-home business. Unlike everything else this post is about, this is less surprising. With my art degree it’s one of the goals I had in mind for the future. Of course, there’s not many jobs I can go out and get with an art degree, so I’d always planned on making my own job of it. I want to open a custom stationery store featuring my chibi art. The excitement this fills me with would take years to describe, because I could go on and on and on. I’m ecstatic. Stupefied that this is a possibility. Impressed at my ability to keep myself on track with art. I’m agog, breathless, overwhelmed etc etc you get the point. I can’t wait to start work. Man, see? I just surprised myself again. Can’t wait to start work? What is this nonsense?
The thing that’s changed the most and yet at the same time the least, however, is me. I’ve become a mom. I’m okay changing diapers, being drooled on, being barfed on, cleaning up toys, and washing a whole hell of extra clothes. I’m more loving, patient, careful, and thoughtful. Loving because holy crap, have you seen my kid? She’s the most adorable, most amazing, smart, wonderful (I could go on) little girl ever. She’s taught me a whole new dimension of love I never imagined was possible. Patient because sure, she’s difficult sometimes. Sometimes she cries, whines, throws things and I can’t figure out what’s wrong. I need to keep a level head when dealing with her, because if she knows I’m angry too, she’ll just be that much harder to calm down. And those sleep issues from a few months ago? Yeah, those took a lot of patience to get through. Careful because she’s delicate. Because she needs me to be gentle with her during the hard times. When she needs me, I can’t be rough. Finally, thoughtful because raising a baby really is hard work. I have to think about what to feed her so she gains weight steadily. I have to remember that diapers don’t change themselves. Arya keeps a schedule and if we deviate she gets cranky. I really have to be thoughtful about her needs so she can be happy and healthy.
Speaking of happy and healthy, I’ve actually started taking better care of myself. For so long I just didn’t care about… me. I was depressed and wasn’t moved to do anything about it. It feels great finally taking care of it. I’m more active (I walked a mile yesterday!), less self-conscious (I once wore a hoodie in Houston in the summer because I was so self-conscious about myself. I haven’t worn a hoodie out now in months), more willing to spend the time to make myself look good (tshirts and baggy pants are a thing of the past), and, well, have you seen my nail polish post? Ha. Never thought I’d be doing that.
Don’t think that I’m all different now, though. Nah. I still play videogames. I’m still more of a tomboy than anything. My nose is still pierced, and I still want more tattoos. I’m still lazy, addicted to the internet, and like weird things (Rilakkuma is adorable, damn it). Overall, I haven’t changed. Not at all. Despite not wearing baggy jeans, I still do straight-leg more often than not. I won’t wear shorts (my legs are ghastly), and forget lipstick. That’s just not me. Hoodies are still a staple in my wardrobe (pockets!). Beer is still one of my favorite things in the world and that’ll never change. I won’t overdo it. I know better. I have a little one and she comes first. But fun for myself is important too. If I don’t take care of myself, who will take care of her?
That’s what surprises me about how I’ve changed. That I know taking care of myself is second, but in a way it’s also first. Arya & I are a great unit. We help each other out. She’s done more for me by just being her than anyone’s ever done for me before. It’s amazing. Having a kid, becoming a parent has really changed me. Parenting is not for everyone, and I thought it wasn’t for me, but growing older shifted my thoughts a bit. If I could go back, I might do it different. I’m curious to know what would’ve happened if I’d never had a baby. It still really tugs at the back of my head, but I don’t regret the way my life has gone. I’m extremely happy. And that’s not really something I say lightly.