We spend a lot of time watching our children grow: marking milestones with photographs and facebook posts; celebrating new skills, a lost tooth, or an extra centimetre on the growth chart. But how often do we stop and reflect back on the many, many ways in which we as parents have grown with our children?
Here are 7 ways that I have grown since becoming a mama.
1. I have grown more patient
Ask me on a bad day and I’d tell you I’ve grown more impatient since becoming a mum. But when I think about it, over the last 6 years I’ve: lost approximately 8,760 hours of quality sleep; heard my non-identity name an average of 84 times a day (quite often in quick succession bouts of “mummy, mummy, mummy, mumMY, MUMMY!”); and increased my use of the word “no” by about 817%.
So, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’ve grown more patient since having children, because quite honestly if someone in my pre-child life stole 4 hours of sleep from me, repeated "hey lady" 84 times and asked me for crap that I have to say “no” to 21 times in a 9 hour period…I would likely have poked them in the eye with a blunt stick before the day was out!
2. I have grown to appreciate the true value of time
The days can be long, but the years are so short. There are moments when it genuinely feels like you have closed your eyes for moment and it’s their next birthday. Hell, sometimes I wake up half expecting to see a moustache on my 6 year old's face! Every second is precious – even the crappy ones where you’re chest deep in self-doubt or beaten down by lack of sleep and utter frustration. I’ve grown to be grateful for all the little moments and to truly appreciate the time that we have.
3. I have grown to become a multi-tasking ninja
It’s amazing how much you can achieve during a 3 minute time-out or in the 90 seconds it takes to microwave their porridge! Since becoming a parent, my multi-tasking ability has grown ten-fold. I have no idea what I did with my time before kids, but I tell you what, I can sure squeeze a lot into a 24 hour period now! The only thing that has not grown, in fact I think it’s actually declined since having kids, is my ability to multi-task whilst writing a text message (I can’t even speak at the same time). Not sure why that is, but I thought it was worth noting.
4. I have grown to treasure being alone
Before having kids, I didn’t enjoy being by myself. I was a social girl – loved a good party, always enjoyed being in the company of others. The idea of staying home and watching TV or even taking a bath was …well…completely boring (almost tortuous) to me.
Since having kids I’ve grown to not only enjoy, but to absolutely treasure my alone time. I guess it is a no-brainer really – given that you now share every toilet and shower break with another human being. But it really is a case of you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. I’ve grown to love the odd car ride to the shop by myself, the reality TV show that no one else wants to watch with me, the rare empty house moments where you literally sit and listen to the fridge hum.
5. My soul has grown younger
Though my body has grown older at a faster rate than ever before, my soul has grown younger. Children have a magical ability to grow you through the process of actually un-growing you. This happens through engaging in play, through shared giggles and through the pure joy of watching their imagination unfold. My children have driven me to look within, to rediscover and reconnect with my inner child, and to heal and grow in the process. They’ve awakened a wonderland at the core of my being that grows brighter and more colourful with every day that passes.
6. I have grown to appreciate my parents’ sayings (not to mention the eyes I’ve grown in the back of my head)
There’s nothing more enlightening then the moments that follow the words, “because I said so” rolling off your tongue. The moment where the penny drops. Where all of a sudden you completely understand why you heard that phrase muttered so many, many times throughout your childhood. Sometimes there just isn’t a reason. Sometimes that’s really “all there is to it”. Sometimes the shock value of asking them if they’d “stick their head in an oven” if their best friend did, is the last tactic you have left to try to make them understand the importance of not bowing down to peer pressure.
7. My heart has grown three sizes
And lastly, since having children my heart has grown three sizes bigger to accommodate the magnitude of love I hold for them. Love that’s entwined with emotions I never knew I could feel with such enormity – like fear, pride, anxiety, hope, empathy, helplessness, wonder and joy. I’d lay my giant emotional heart on the line for them time and time again, because I love them more than I ever thought was possible.
This is one of the gifts that parenting brings: even on the days when it feels like you’ve taken three steps back, you’re still growing as a person as rapidly as your children are. Every day is a learning curve. Every day is an opportunity to grow a little more, to connect a little more, to love a little louder.
Every moment you are watching your children grow; they are watching you grow too, and using this as guidance for their own development. If ever there was a moment to truly be ‘you’, to truly live in alignment with your values and your passions – that moment is now!
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