Before we become parents, we hear endlessly how amazing having children is. Difficult, but amazing. There’s some power about parenthood that is incredible. Becoming a parent makes you strong in ways you didn’t know were possible. You become immune to all kinds of smells and disgusting things. You can sort of function on less sleep than you’ve ever had without liquor being the culprit of your deprivation. You can love on a level you couldn’t fathom beforehand no matter how you tried. The power a parent has to love is phenomenal. Your heart lives outside your body and it can carry so much weight and just keep giving.
There is one thing that we don’t hear about though and that is how becoming a parent can take away your power.
Before you made another person to care for, live, breathe and go hungry for, you’d been an independent being. You’d spent many years navigating through the world, figuring out who you were. You learnt what you liked and didn’t. Who you liked and didn’t. You learnt how to dress your body and to some extent be comfortable with what was exclusively yours. You had a career and an identity. You had people in your life who knew you for who you were and accepted you. You had drinking buddies and friends who you could endlessly talk to about that topic only you two had in common.
All of that changes when a child joins the party.
Your body changes. That’s the first sign of things to come. For mums, they adapt to their growing shape and try to love the dawdy maternity clothing handed down to them or on offer online. That body that you had been learning to love, that was exclusively yours is no longer a private thing. You are sharing it with not only your growing child but the world. People are obsessed with pregnant women. People love to judge and comment and somehow you no longer get to just BE.
After your bundle of joy arrives, everything changes. Sleep, meals, your social life. These aren’t all bad, but it’s a shock to the system.
The bit no one can prepare you for is how slowly, gradually, all of these changes can drain away that feeling of power you once had. You once felt strong, confident and assured, but you aren’t YOU anymore. You’re someone’s parent. You’re depended on. You’re needed. You lose the sense of strength and power you once felt and it comes so slowly you may not even notice.
On days when you feel out of sorts as a parent. When you feel like you don’t somehow fit into your skin anymore. Like the anxiety is creeping up out of nowhere. Remember;
You spent your entire life learning to be who you were. It’s going to take a long time to figure out who this new person is. What they like. Who they like. (That changes a lot after you have your first disagreement about parenting or your friend’s baby sleeps well and yours doesn’t) How to dress. How to go out and walk about and be seen by the world without your child in tow.
Becoming a parent is like becoming a super hero. You’ll be loved, adored, hated and scorned and somehow you’ll come out stronger than ever.