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A profound shift takes place for women as we birth our babies, wherein we also give birth to the mother within us. A new part of our identity begins to grow at an alarming rate, as we go from being independent, self-motivated, and well rested young ladies, into ever maturing, interdependent, and sleep-deprived women. Our new self may bring about changes in desires, priorities, hopes, and fears. So, while your baby’s growth and development may be more obvious and expected, you have no doubt been growing as well. Though each women’s experience is unique, here are some of the ways YOU might be growing.

1. You are more aware of your limitations, and can ask for help.

Before baby, it may have seemed like you had it all together. You could be successful at work or school, eat right, pay your bills, catch a movie with friends, and work out all in one day. You could handle all the things in your life and not need any help at all. Now? well, not so much. Some days you wonder how you’ll make it to an 8PM bedtime. How did this happen? Well, somewhere between a first date and an SUV, you became a mother. I don’t have to convince you that being a mother is HARD work. Really, it’s too difficult for any one woman to go at alone. And so, unlike the days of your past you have probably already have had to ask for help, and so be it.

The ability to acknowledge your limitations and allow others to help you is an important learning milestone for anyone. But, being a mother pushes these realities upon us without warning, exposing our vulnerabilities and highlighting our limits. It challenges us to accept that we need others, and asks us to allow them into our lives and sometimes even into our hearts. So, whether its weekly psychotherapy where you can vent your feelings, a support group, a nanny, or calling your own mom more than ever, good for you! It’s normal and healthy to need the help of others.

Keep in mind that no one will ever do the job just like you or as well as you, so another related area of growth is to accept the help in the way that it is being offered, and try not to be critical of it. Allow the help you receive to make your life easier rather than wishing it were different or better. If you haven’t asked for help yet or struggle to fully accept it, that’s OK too. It’s an ever evolving area for growth and it’s never too late to reflect on how you can improve.

2. You have greater purpose and value. You know the true worth of your valuables.

Before you were a mom, you may have questioned if you mattered once in a while. Each birthday, you re-discovered who was thinking about you and who really cared, and you were grateful for the moments when you made a difference. But, since your baby’s birth, there has been no question that you not only matter, but you are crucial to someones survival and development. You are now aware that you matter every time you’re the only one who can comfort your child, and you know you’re loved when he/she smiles at you and watches every move you make.

Because of how much your life is valued, you no longer need to validate your worth with material things or a fancy title at work. Gone are the days when your pants size or getting asked out on a date determined your worth or desirability. Even though it’s still great to feel sexy, you know you’re just as special in yoga pants and a messy t-shirt as you are in the latest DVF print.

Along these same lines, you may have realized that you no longer care to buy DVF in the same way you used to. You might even realize you don’t care to (or can’t find the time to) shop for yourself at all anymore. And, if something you bought gets lost or breaks, you think “I can get a new one” or “Eh, I can do without that”. In general, you have a new perspective on what matters. Your priorities are realigned and likely for the better.

3. You have greater emotional and social intelligence. 

Ever noticed how older people (think your mom, grandma) talk about the lives of other people more as they age? Sometimes you wonder, “mom, why on earth are you telling me about your friends’ brothers’ dogs’ doctor?!?” Perhaps this has to do with the possibility that as we mature, we realize we are more alike and stories of the lives of others may mimic or shed light on our own. In entering motherhood, this sense of comradery happens quite rapidly as our experience is normalized. We become more willing to share, and feel more understood.  We are interested in the experience of others as it relates to our own, and feel our experience is knowledge that can be helpful to others as needed.

Our nose dive into motherhood lands us in a state of greater empathy, compassion, and acceptance toward others, as we realize our humanity and understand that there is no “perfect” parent or way to do anything.. This aspect may even be apparent as you begin to understand your own parents more, and forgive some of their shortcomings.

Because of the profound new love in your life, your heart has also expanded.

Scientifically and intuitively, we know that love helps us grow and is no doubt good for our soul. Its the reason for everything, and you and your baby flourish in the reciprocal nature of it. It’s why no matter how challenging motherhood gets, we all agree that it’s worth it.

So, whether it’s an online forum, a new BFF connection, a chatty day at the park, or a unique new closeness with your sister, you have grown socially and emotionally. as a mom.

4. Your mind is wiser and your body is stronger

If you’re like most mothers, you’ve been learning something new (thank you, Google) about babies and motherhood from the day you found out you were pregnant (if not before). From developmental milestones to the latest stroller technology, you have tons of new knowledge and you’re always seeking more. With this growth in knowledge, you might be sharper than ever; being more alert, and showing greater accountability, organization, and effeciency. You rarely have time to waste, you can kill four birds with one stone, and you are more direct. You are more aware of your instincts because you are always looking out for your little one(s). Like when you notice the lion inside of you that’s ready to strike if someone comes too close to you and your baby.

Similarly to instinct, becoming a mother brings you in touch with your intuition; like when that babysitter was a no-no, or when you knew you should head home with the kiddos even though you really wanted to do one last errand. With your new sense of maturity, you might not take as many risks, and you consider consequences. Maybe you are more patient at the traffic lights, read more food labels, and always use the crosswalks. See…smart!

Furthermore, you may notice your physical body is stronger since becoming a mom. Take a look at your biceps next time you check the mirror. And notice the shear number of grocery bags you can tow as you carry your baby and open the front door. Your new found curiosity together with the critical thinking and heavy lifting you do daily, definitely makes you smarter and stronger than ever.

I know…that was actually a lot more than 4 ways that you may be changing as a mother…but who can keep count? In sum, you are one awesome woman, Mommy, and you are doing such a good job! Remember, each woman’s experience is as unique as their own child’s development, so take the time to reflect and never stop growing!