Does motherhood change you? I never really thought so. I’m the same me I’ve always been, only with a permanent plus-one. I mean, sure, I have less “free time” or “me time” (or just … time), and yes, I talk more about poop and preschool tuition these days and less about that story in the New Yorker or whatever, but those are all circumstantial changes related to living with a toddler. They’re not core changes.
Then again, every so often, I’ll have a sudden realization that something I used to really care about just doesn’t really rank anymore. And vice versa. Again, I’m not talking core changers — there’s been no a shift in a belief system or political identification or anything. It’s more like, say, my feelings about people who speed on city streets (I care more), or what I do on New Year’s Eve (I care less). And I think: How many of these small things, these priority shifts, will it take to add up until I am another person? (Or my mom?) Is this what people talk about when they talk about parenthood changing you? Am I the frog in the boiling pot of water? Honestly, I don’t know — all I know is that the list is starting to get quite long. To wit:
Things I Care Less About:
1. Wearing bikinis. Truth is, I’ve never actually loved wearing tiny bathing suits, but I always felt like I should want to wear them, particularly in my pre-kid ’20s. Now I just feel like a reasonably stylish mom in a basic sporty Athleta suit. I could definitely say something here about how oppressive societal expectations can be at the beach (and how weird it is that there’s less perceived pressure once you’re a mom), but instead I can just say, happily: I just don’t care. I could give two s***s anymore about “supposed tos” as they relate to swimwear. (Why did I ever care? I don’t know.)
2. Going to the latest buzzy restaurant. Honestly, I’m happy to dine at pretty much any restaurant. Hey, that two-year-old restaurant is new to me …
4. Professional hair removal. I used to make time (and pay) for regular waxing appointments?!? Hahahahahahaha.
5. Doing everything for anybody who asks — or over-volunteering — at work. I mean, I still do it. Just not quiiiiite as compulsively.
6. Where my shoes come from. This is my way of saying that I bought all my shoes at Target this year. (Because daycare and preschool are so, so expensive, and I would like to actually retire one day.) And you know what? They’re awesome. I may never go back.
7. Waking up early. I used to dread mornings that started before 7 a.m. I think I let that feeling go because if I held onto it, I would literally be dreading every morning of my life. Waking up early is just no big deal anymore, especially because a kid is just so cute with bedhead. So the sun won’t be up for another hour: Who cares?
8. Trying to squeeze all my crap into a tiny, chic purse. Hard before, impossible now. Giant totes (with Cheddar Bunny crumbs in the lining) can be chic, right?
9. Wearing heels to work. Hard before, impossible now. Flats can be chic, right?
10. Curly hair, all day, every day, especially in the rain, the summer, or every weekday. I like straighter hair, but not as much as I like a 10-minute beauty routine.
11. Doing anything at all for New Year’s Eve.
Honestly, I was on the cusp with this one even before kids. Now? I’ve got my sweetheart, my booze, my party (and by party, I mean Netflix) right here at home, where there’s no surge pricing or vomit cabs.
Things I Care More About:
1. Other kids, and other moms. I just love them all more now. Even — and especially — when they’re having meltdowns. (Kids and moms.) I have newly deep reservoirs of love and affection and understanding. They are my people.
2. Humanity in general, actually. Upside: Vastly increased empathy for fellow man. Downside: I can no longer watch the news, documentaries or movies of any substance without weeping.
3. Not swearing. (Quite as much.) (Okay, not swearing in front of my child.)
4. Gun control. For God’s sake, gun control.
5. Flu shots.
6. A nightly cocktail. Specifically, my nightly cocktail.
7. Common Core. I still don’t really know what it is. And yet I care.
8. Sleeping in. Just because I don’t care so much about waking up early doesn’t mean I don’t care about getting sleep. In fact, those things are inversely proportional. The less I care about having to rise with the sun, the more I adore those days where I can sleep until 9 a.m.
9. Talking to my parents. Nobody else on the planet loves that kid (or me) enough to listen to me talk about the five awesome new animal sounds he can make. It’s a love that bonds you.
11. People who speed on city streets. I never thought I’d be the lady who stands on the sidewalk and yells at strangers to “SLOW DOWN”, but OMG, SLOW DOWN.
12. Storage space. I only thought I cared about storage before.
13. My neighbors. It has slowly dawned on me that raising a kid is 100 times easier if you’re connected to the community around you — and for us, that’s meant our immediate block. Knowing, liking and hanging out with our city neighbors has been something I never realized would be so important to my life.