They say a woman changes a lot when she has a baby. There are even some studies that show women are actually more intelligent after having children which, in my case, is undoubtedly true (or at least that’s what I tell myself at night).
There are certain things I do now that I didn’t really do before becoming a mother, and somehow, life is a whole lot more chaotic yet organized at the same time. Unsurprisingly, more than half of these things revolve around our baby sleeping and/or noise.
1. I hear EVERYTHING.
This mostly pertains just to my baby. But it’s like I can hear her move in her crib from across the apartment — my hearing is that sharp. Several people have told me that this is a natural thing, and once you become a mom, you have supersonic hearing for the rest of your life.
2. I speak in whispers.
My husband and I find ourselves whispering all the time — even when our daughter is in bed, in another room. OK, so I don’t hear everything (see No. 1) when he’s whispering. I only hear like half of it, and I answer him with smiles and nods.
3. I know where all the creaky spots are.
I know where every single creaky spot is in the floor, and knowledge is power. I never step on them, lest I wake up a sleeping baby, because god knows, a baby can sleep through pots and pans clanging, but if you step on that one creaky spot, there will be hell to pay.
4. I speak in singsong.
I’d say 40% of my conversations now are in song. My two personal favorite self-composed songs go like this: “Never fear, Mom is here!” and “Let Mom poo. Mom’s a person too!” Yeah.
5. I pull my breasts out in public.
Oh, for shame! I used to be one of those people who was, shall we say, sensitive about breastfeeding in public. Please forgive me. I blame my psychotic religious upbringing and society’s obsession with over-sexualizing the female body. Now I am one of those people who does this — to feed and/or comfort my baby. It’s no big deal, OK? Move along.
6. I curse silently at inanimate objects (and relax a little).
Why do we do this? Because they make noise. Cabinets closing, the dishwasher clicking on, a plastic measuring cup dropping onto the kitchen floor, the closet door creaking every single time it’s opened, Sophie the Giraffe squeaking as she is stepped on in the dark. I never considered sounds like these a nuisance until we had a baby. But now we live with doors open and lights on. It takes a truly relaxed person to live like that, which I wasn’t before, but I’m getting better at it.
7. I time everything.
I find myself always timing my actions. If I’m in the bathtub and my husband is watching our daughter and she begins to fuss, I say, “I’ll be out in two minutes.” If I’m going to the pool, I say, “I’ll be back in 45 minutes.” If I run to get coffee, “I’ll be back in 10 minutes.” It’s like, once we had our baby, everything began to feel much more urgent (even if it’s not really). It’s imperative to give a time estimate for two reasons: It lets the other person know you’re there and that you will help as soon as you can, but it also gives you a little bit of time to finish up whatever you’re doing.
8. I snap at my husband.
This kind of plays off the last one. Because everything feels so urgent, it would be totally impossible for everything to go harmoniously all the time. If the baby wakes up in the middle of the night and we need to change her, there’s fumbling around, looking for diapers, opening a new pack of wipes, etc., all happening in the dark. There is bound to be some sort of clash. Life was never so urgent and unpredictable before, so we never had situations that would cause us to snap at each other, but now we do. And we acknowledge that these aren’t real problems, just short quips resulting from a little chaos. We say sorry and move on. This is normal.
9. I eat differently.
I used to love to cook. But after extended morning sickness followed by a lack of appetite for the remainder of my pregnancy, food became unenjoyable. I found myself eating only to make sure I got the calories and nutrients I needed, but I never really looked forward to it. Then, once I gave birth, my appetite didn’t fully return, even with breast feeding. I found the act of cooking to be just another thing I needed to do, another burden, and I dreaded it.
However, I know it’s still immensely important that I get all of the nutrients I need. When I eat now, it doesn’t involve just sitting down for an uninterrupted meal the way that it used to. Sometimes I don’t cook; sometimes I just snack — cheese, crackers, carrots, bread and butter, an entire bar of chocolate. Sometimes I do cook, and I throw eggs, spinach, and pasta into one pot and call it a day. Sometimes I eat standing up while holding my daughter. Sometimes I eat sitting down while holding her. Sometimes I eat while breastfeeding her. Sometimes I eat chocolate cake in the bathtub once my husband gets home. It’s kind of chaos. But it’s lovely, hungry chaos.
10. I ride around in the car for an extra hour or so, with no particular place to go.
If we’re out running errands and the baby falls asleep, the majority of the time we will just keep driving instead of heading straight home. Babies love sleeping in the car; the rumble of the road just lulls them right into a dreamy slumber. I don’t want to disrupt her and have to restart nap time all over again when we get home, so we just hit the GW Parkway going south, listen to some music, and enjoy some adult conversation. It’s the parent equivalent of going on a date.
11. Write passionately.
I used to write proposals for work full-time. I used to write about installing fiber optic cables on military bases. I used to write about HVACs and QA and QC and R&D and O&M. While it’s necessary stuff, it can be less than thrilling. It was all about the technical, logistical, logical. My mind was at 100% capacity when I would write proposals. Now, I write about being a mom, and these words are filled with my heart.