Does Motherhood Change You As A Person?by Elizabeth MacDonald
Does Motherhood Change You As A Person?
The depth of this question can be taken as far as you wish to let it sink in, but as a mother of four, I believe that the answer is a simple ‘no’ with a whole lot of complicated explanations. I am currently holding a three-year-old who is crying because he is not allowed to climb the shelves to get scissors, all while I am nursing a ten-month-old, and my five and seven-year-old are working on anything besides their schoolwork. My sanity is stretched, but my heart is full.
My immediate reaction to the question “Can motherhood change you as a person?” was a resounding “YES.” Of course I am not the same person I was ten years ago, pre-children. But then I thought about it more. I slept on it, actually. Becoming a mother has changed my views on just about everything. It has altered my passions and given me bigger dreams than I thought possible. Motherhood has made me an advocate in areas I didn’t know existed ten years ago. In all actuality, my 25-year-old self would not know the me today. The things I talk about, the friendships I maintain, the ways in which I parent these tiny humans – nothing is what I imagined.
I also believe that with each child, I grow. I would love to say that each child changes me; and in so many ways, this seems true. With so many personalities and needs under one roof, my patience and ability to adapt and accept others has changed immensely. After two babies, I stopped judging other mothers completely. I related to those who had lost their minds and to those who had everything together. I understood why wine was known as ‘mommy juice’ and how real the guilt could be for drinking it.
The moment you become a mother, your entire being is altered to a state of true unconditional love and fierce protection. These feelings are ones in which you have believed you knew -with siblings, friends, partners, and others, but when motherhood occurs, you really understand. And then I really started thinking about my role as a mother, about my children, and about myself. Did the root of me change when I birthed a child?
I started doing research about how birthing a baby leaves a bit of the child’s DNA behind within the mother’s brain, actually altering her. But after all of this, I thought about the core. My core. I thought about it and talked to other mothers who shared their thoughts as well. There is overwhelming research that shows how a personality is developed within adolescence, and more research linking childhood experiences to molding the brain for life. So at the core, the true core of who I am, I may feel altered, but the truth is that becoming a mother enriched and bettered me, but it did not actually change who I am.
I believe this to be true with most mothers. There is something deeply rooted within each of us – a good, if you will. This good was fed by our infancy, our childhood, and our experiences both physically and emotionally. Whether these experiences were picture perfect or less than ideal, we unknowingly absorbed them and created the strongest, most well-rounded foundation possible with them. Even if that means we live the opposite of how we were raised. Maybe it takes years of life experience, and even giving birth to be reminded or bring this foundation to light, but it was already there. It is the good in all people.
So many women may not be aware of who they are until a child arrives, but this doesn’t change them – it awakens them. Perhaps motherhood drives us to the point of exhaustion and confusion for a reason? Maybe the guilt and acceptance are all realities in the process we must go through to find ourselves? I will tell you that losing yourself in motherhood is normal. It’s crappy, but it is common. I have lost myself a handful of times in the last decade, and I am sure it will happen every so often throughout the future journey of my life. Each time that I find myself though, I am bettered. I am stronger and more confident. I learn that I am capable and deserving, and that to be happy, I must honor my own soul. Taking in this information (a discovery, basically) has opened my eyes to my children even more. I know that I am making an impact on their core; their roots are deeply spread and the goodness within them will be unchanging. I will accept and love them all of their lives, even when that good hides because I truly believe that the foundation of a person does not change, but is only awakened and bettered throughout their life. And now I am crying as I think about the amazing parents my children will be someday.