When I was a little girl, we had a next door neighbor (in our otherwise suburban neighborhood filled with families with children) who was childless. She was the quintessential single girl, and I looked up to her. (On a strange side note, I grew up to be the quintessential single girl in my neighborhood full of families, until D and I moved in together and procreated. Strange how things come back around, isn't it?!) Anyhow, her name was Susan, and she was awesome and fun, but the whole neighborhood always wondered when she'd "get married and settle down and have babies." While at the time I thought she must lead too exciting a life for all that, now sometimes I catch myself wondering the same thing about childless adults, particularly those who have been married for 5+ years and have yet to have a child, and (gasp!) aren't interested in children.
I 100% respect the life choices of others. I do charity work with the local civil liberties organization, Equality Texas, as well as participate as a host for a local fundraiser benefiting LGBT charities during the holiday season. I contribute money to the cause, vote on propositions dear to my heart - you name it, I stand in support of choice. Even despite my own personal experience with this issue, I am pro-choice to the end. So don't get me wrong that I'm making a statement against those who choose to not have children. But, lately, I've realized a few things, and I thought, given that I'm not feeling so hot and am curled up under a blanket on the couch while A naps, I'd muse publicly, seeing as how most of my recent posts have been picture-heavy but not too long on words :)
Being a mother has fundamentally changed me. I didn't realize how much this would be the case, claiming that being a nanny was similar. And while, in a lot of ways it can be, being a mother comes with a sense of community and selflessness that being a nanny and/or all the experience with children in the world never could. Let me explain.
Since having Ava, I find myself being much more cautious about my decisions. And I don't just mean decisions like where our money goes and what is a worthwhile purchase, though that's on the list of things that I consider more now, but little things like speeding through the yellow light and driving over the speed limit. While initially I thought the change to my driving was only when A was present and for her safety, I've noticed that I tend to be more cautious when alone now also, and in other situations. No little girl should be without her mother because of a careless, senseless mistake. My life may have been valuable to me and other people before, but now, it's priceless.
I also make every effort to consider the example I'm setting for her. Sure, she's too little to understand the reasoning behind my actions, but I like the thought of her observing me being kind to the homeless, giving money to the hungry, donating to the charity at the checkout line at HEB. Like I said, motherhood has fundamentally changed me. Being a parent has made me a better person, It's made ME - a person who has always been considerate of other children, who once upon a time worked for Child Protective Services to protect those who needed protection - be still more aware of the trials of others, to feel more protective of all children and feel empathy towards and aware of their pain. I am more interested in our HOA, caring more about what our neighborhood is like, and have a vested interest in the school and park systems in my city. While I'm not saying that childless individuals don't feel this sort of civil and communal obligation, I surely didn't feel it the way I do now pre-Ava.
In what ways do you feel parenthood has changed you, aside from the obvious sleep-deprivation and so on? Do you feel that there is truth to my musings, or are these just one person's observations?