A lot has changed since I’ve become a mom. Besides the obvious, that is. I’m an introvert who’s always suffered from shyness on top of the serious lack of self esteem. I opened up a bit in high school and then a little bit more in college, and I thought I had reached my true potential, as close as I was ever going to feel to being an extrovert. Then I had a kid, and I bloomed. The term “late bloomer” springs to mind, but I’m not exactly sure if what happened to me really fits the definition, but whatevs.
See, having a baby changed everything about me – the way I look at the world, the way I look at myself, that way I look, the way I feel, the way I act. Everything about who I am changed. I tried to explain it to Josh because he totally doesn’t get it, but it’s true. I am not the same person I was 2 years ago.
I don’t worry about what others think. I used to be so concerned, even if I played it off, but not now. The neighbors are sitting on the porch? Oh well, we’re gonna play in the driveway and blow bubbles and lay on out bellies and color with chalk. Greasy hair and mismatched clothes be damned. See someone I know at the grocery? Yep, I’m in yoga pants and tshirt and, yes, that is crusty yogurt on my shirt. My kid wanted to give me a hug while she ate lunch. My kids singing at the top of her lungs in the middle of Walmart? Guess what? Payback for all those annoying kids I had to listen to before I had my own. At least, mine’s confined to a cart and not running around like a total monster.
I rarely feel beautiful. It’s a whole internal thing that isn’t even worth going into, but still it’s a daily struggle not to feel like I’m the biggest slob on the planet. But put that baby on my hip and I feel gorgeous. She’s my favorite accessory. She makes me feel comfortable and relaxed because I’ve got my little buddy with me. It’s almost as if having her with me just brings out this inner confidence I didn’t even know I had. I am mommy, hear me roar, or something. It could also be that she’s so outgoing and beautiful and everyone’s attention is immediately turned to her. This keeps people from pay attention to me and that’s all I ever want any ways. As pathetic as it is, I can hide my own insecurities behind my beautiful baby. Let her shine. Let her be loved. To love her is to love a part of me anyway. Still, there is nothing more beautiful than being a mom.
With her, I get to dress up and be silly without feeling like everyone’s judging me. I get to wear princess crowns and play in leaves and it’s not weird because I have a kid and that makes it total normal.
I wear a swimsuit without a second thought because she wants to go swimming. Do I feel self conscious? Hell yeah. Does it change that fact that my kid loves the water and wants to play in it? Hell no. Stretch marks and gut be damned. My kid wants to play, and that’s what we’re going to do. Plus, Miss Flat Abs, come talk to me after you’ve carried a watermelon inside your body for 9 months. We’ll see who’s got judgey eyes then.
Being a mom has made me brave. I would never have jumped through a sprinkle before her. I would never have fed a llama before her. Now, I do. I have to be brave so she learns to be brave. Granted, I’m not running into burning buildings or dodging bullets, but being outgoing, to me, is being brave. Facing new things and taking on new challenges makes someone brave. She makes me be brave.
She’s been able to bring a type of peace to my life. She’s the calm in a storm. My emotions are similar to hers, to a toddlers. I feel things very deeply. Anger, compassion, happiness, love – they all run deep. I react in the same way. So when I’m dealing with things, it’s hard to stop me. I’m a hurricane that just needs to run it’s course and run myself out. But, Ellabelle has this effect on me. She can stop everything in it’s tracks and bring me back down to normal. I don’t remember much at all that happened to me October 2012. Josh tells me that when I was feeling the most scared and the most confused, I’d hold her because she was the only thing that would calm me down, that would make me feel better. She’s been able to do something no one else has ever been able to do – she makes me listen, even if it’s just my heart whispering to me what it thinks she needs from me. She keeps me grounded and keeps me sane. She has made me more willing to compromise and let go of my pride. She has made me a better version of myself.
Most importantly, she has opened my eyes to what’s really important. Someone was really rude to me at work that day? It’s over. Move on. There’s some sort of ridiculous family drama? It doesn’t matter. Arguing politics? Who cares. People wanting to push their religion? Not worth my time to even worry about. I can’t change people, and being a mom has made me realize that none of that stuff is really that important. I am able to just let most things roll of my shoulders. I can’t let silly things get me frustrated and upset when there’s a good chance that A) Ellabelle is going to notice my bad mood and its going cause her to be in a bad mood or B) Ellabelle’s going to be particularly ornery and that’s only going to enhance my bad mood. Regardless, with a toddler in the house, a living tornado of emotional outbursts, I have to work extra hard to keep my own emotions properly in check. Petty, stupid things just aren’t worth it.
I’m living life one moment at a time, one step at a time. I’ve come realize that’s all I can do. I know I’ve heard it, but until something happens to you to make you wake up and realize it, you really can’t wrap your mind around it. I feel like in a way I’ve died. That old me is gone. I have been to the very end of everything, I have felt around on the floor of rock bottom and I’m still here. EB was my life preserve, something to hold onto in the dark. She was the sliver of hope from a lighthouse off in the distance. She saved me in every way imaginable when she made me a mom and she’s a continual reminder of what there is to look forward to. I read the news and see war and destruction and the very worst of humankind and I look at her and know she will be one of those gentle voices in the world spreading love and hope for a better tomorrow. Or at least I’m going to do everything I can to teach her to be that way.
She has changed me and made me better. I’ve learned more from her and about myself in two years of being a mom than I ever did in 17 years of school. Everything Ellabelle does is genuine. Everything she does is the nth degree. There’s no holding back for fear of what others might say or think. She lives life on the very edge of her emotions – when she’s mad, she screams. When she’s happy, she sings. When she’s sad, she cries. There’s no huddling on the middle ground. It’s all or nothing, baby. I’m trying to be more and more like her, more genuine, every day.
I can feel the change in me, even if others can’t see it. I’ve been changed for good. I’ve been changed for the better. Until you’re a mom, you can’t understand. And once you’re a mom, you can’t ever go back. Ellabelle thinks I’m brave. She thinks I’m funny and smart. She thinks I’m beautiful and adventurous. She thinks I’m loving and kind. I want to be everything she thinks I am.