Having kids will change you. Do you believe that? Here’s my story.
Is there anything as earth-shaking as the moment your first child is born? I remember getting ready to leave the hospital after the birth of my first child, and all I could think was, “They’re letting me take him home?” Although I knew he was our child (so of course we should take him home), I also couldn’t help feeling that the hospital staff was making a big mistake trusting me with this sweet, little life.
Everything about who I was shifted when that little boy was put in my arms. I began to shrivel in big ways. I lost part of who I was for a time, just as most mothers do. Finding ourselves again, as mothers, is so important. But in that time when motherhood was breaking me down… When I felt beat and exhausted… Motherhood began to grow me. After some time passed, what I found was this: I changed when I had kids. Thank goodness. Having kids made me a better person. And I believe having kids will change you as well.
You guys, when I had my first child, I spiraled. I went down hard. My type-A personality was fixated on getting 8 hours of sleep, despite having a newborn. I wasn’t so naive to think that I could get 8 hours straight, but I was obsessed with getting a total of 8 hours. If that meant I had to put myself and the baby to bed at 5 in the evening, that’s what I’d do.
I also weighed my baby daily. Part of this was necessary, because my baby was very ill for months and lost a lot of weight. The public health nurses even had us keep a scale at home so that we could weigh him before and after feeds. Formula wasn’t an option because he reacted to EVERYTHING. But weighing him multiple times a day didn’t help him gain weight. It only drove me crazy to see that he would gain 0 oz’s after feeding.
I cloth diapered my kids. This in itself is great, and I’m so glad I did it. What was not good about it was how I did it. I was completely obsessive about following a pattern with which diaper colors we would use. What? Yes, it’s true. If the pattern went off, my heart would literally race. I wouldn’t let people help me with the diapers, because I didn’t want someone screwing up the pattern. I wish I was joking. But you can’t make this up.
Part of this was probably some post-partum depression or anxiety. If I’m honest, though, most of this behavior was who I was.
I needed to plan, organize and control everything. This was me pre-baby, too. It was just easier to hide myself then… before I was truly challenged.
After my first child was born, I tried to shove that poor baby onto a schedule, and part of me died when I realized that was not possible.
A Wake-Up Call
I’m so thankful that eventually his health turned around. But, truly, I believe I needed every bit of challenge that first year with my first baby brought me. It peeled back the curtain on who I really was.
What I learned was that before I had kids, I felt in control of my life. Everything was predictable, I was successful (in my eyes), my husband and I had a great little world. What I didn’t realize is that everything was great because I had not been truly challenged. Because I hadn’t experienced true challenge, I didn’t realize how serious my obsessive drive toward perfection was.
I wouldn’t have thought that I needed to change. I soon realized, though, having kids will change you.
Death to Life
Like I said, part of me died when I had my first child. My need for control had to die. My need for perfection had to die. And a part of me died again when I realized I was holding on to the idols of control, perfection, and fear so tightly. It’s hard to see what you idolize when everything is easy.
But when the struggles come… that’s when you discover bitter revelations. It turns out, I was a different person all along than I thought I was. I was much more twisted-up inside than I thought.
That first year was straight-up struggle. Then, when we started trying for the second, we suffered a miscarriage. Then between the second child and the third… 3 more miscarriages.
By the time our 3rd child was a few months old and screaming in my arms as she worked her way through colic, it wasn’t me shriveling up anymore. Now, my idols were shriveling up. Fear, perfection, and control didn’t have the lead anymore. I had become more dependent on God, and less dependent on me.
People had told me, “Having kids will change you.” But there was no way to fully understand until I had kids. Once I had those kids, I realized that I wasn’t in control at all. That was a facade. the reality is that there is a God who holds the whole world in his hands. For me, that simple phrase took on a whole new meaning once kids came on the scene.
God used having kids to reveal my areas of weakness and sin, and I’m so grateful.
Having Kids Will Change You.
I believe the same is true for so many of you moms reading this right now. Or perhaps, you don’t have kids yet, and that’s what brought you to this article. Here’s the truth: Kids will absolutely wreck you. They will. You will probably feel like you’re a shell of who you once were. You may feel like there’s nothing left of who you were, or that you never knew who you were to begin with.
But here’s the good news. What you can build from that place of brokenness is limitless. I believe there is beauty in brokenness. I believe there is potential in emptiness, and I believe that when you feel there’s nothing left, the only thing to do is grow.
For me, my clarity came from having kids and having those sweet, tiny little humans, turn everything that I thought I knew (and I thought I knew a lot) upside-down. For you, it might be something different. A challenge of another kind. The key is- lean into the challenge. Allow yourself to feel the pain of being broken so that you can feel the joy of new growth.
When you go through a challenge (and being a parent is a challenge), you find strength you never knew was in you. That is priceless.
Kids were a gift that changed me.
I mean, I still won’t let my kids wear day-of-the-week underwear because I’ll go bonkers if the days get mixed up. But even so, having kids changed me for the better.
Having kids will change you. The question is: Will you let it?
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