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"Thank you for making me a better person, little man."

A few years ago the biggest stresses in my life were running late for work, whether I was wearing ‘the right outfit’ and how I was going to afford those $200 shoes I was pining for. In fact, almost all of my time and money went on ME and what I wanted (or told myself I desperately needed) – rarely on others. I saw the world from my perspective, how things affected me, what I wanted, how I felt and how other people treated me. I thought about myself… A LOT.

And then I became a mum.

The personality change started while I was pregnant but mostly it came all at once, like a lightning bolt, the second my son was born. I went from being ‘just me’ to being reinvented as ‘his mum’ and this seemingly subtle shift changed everything… for the better.

Yes, yes it may sound like a cliché – but, this is exactly what happened.

"The personality change started while I was pregnant but mostly it came all at once, like a lightning bolt, the second my son was born." Image via iStock.

I have always been impatient, if the person in the line in front of me at the ATM wasn’t pressing the buttons fast enough I would huff and puff in irritation. What about the person driving in front of me too slowly? Well, I would curse and hit the horn until my face turned red. One of the first things you realise as a mum is that EVERYTHING takes forever, and I was (miraculously) OK with that. I used to always be in a hurry to get everywhere, now it takes me an hour and half just to get out the door and when we are finally on our way - after a few false starts, lost keys and an unexpected poo explosion - I am a little frazzled but mostly just glad we got out at all.

I used to be pretty obsessed with clothing. What I wore was a big part of how I defined myself. I was ‘quirky’ and ‘funky’ and my clothes were carefully chosen to reflect that. Then, in one fell swoop (well 2.5 days of labour and a caesarean to be more specific) that all changed. My clothes changed dramatically to be comfortable, practical and - most importantly - resistant to food stains. I definitely received a lot fewer comments on my outfits, but I was a mum now, and so focused on this human I was suddenly responsible for that I wouldn’t have noticed if someone did pay me a compliment.

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I was selfish. Not the obvious Grinchy selfish. I gave to charity, I was generous towards my friends and family, but ultimately I saw everyone around me in relation to ‘me’ and what they could do for me. Then, all of a sudden, I barely had time to think about ‘me’ at all. Nearly every single thought in my head was about my son. Was he hungry? Tired? Sick? Scared? I cared so much more about how he was feeling than I did about myself and it made me a nicer person, not just to him, but also to my husband, my mum, my friends - and even to strangers.

changed after motherhood
"I cared so much more about how he was feeling than I did about myself and it made me a nicer person." Image via iStock.

A friend of mine used to call me Judgy McJudgerson when I was being too judgemental. Which was most of the time, to be honest. I always wanted to define people. To dissect what they did and why. Don’t believe me? Here is an example. I have an elderly neighbour, for whom English is a struggle, and as a result she can be blunt to the point of rudeness. I used to avoid her. Then I noticed how much my son seemed to like her, and she him.

They would smile to each other and my son would giggle when she tickled his toes, then she started passing little (and sometimes odd) gifts over the fence to us and over time I was able to see what I had missed earlier. She was very lonely. Every time she stopped me on the street and made a ‘suggestion’ about my life/parenting/appearance that I found offensive she was just trying to make conversation, to make me stop and connect with her. So now I stop, I find the time, all without the judgement.

The world around me is no longer a hurried place where I worry that I am not as successful, smart or (god forbid) thin as the person next to me. Instead the world now seems like something to be enjoyed, full of things to learn, experience and explore with my son. I find myself taking half an hour out to watch the sun slowly falling, or a full moon growing larger (his favourite) - something I would never have taken the time to do before he came along. And I am a much, much better person for it.

So thank you for my reinvention, little man.

How did you change after having a baby?

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