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4 Things That No Longer Matter When You Become a Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

You become a mom and you have all of these preconceived ideas of how things will go. Or at least I did. I had this vision of myself as a mom—and I always looked peaceful in these visions, like Mother Nature. And then I had a baby. Two years later, I had another baby.

I woke up one morning and realized the things I used to care about before I had kids were now weighing me down. It was time to let go of some things.

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1. Matching my underwear, or matching anything

Victoria's secret is that she doesn't have a 2-year-old screaming for apple juice while a newborn wails in the crib.

I am shocked that I used to actually spend time digging through my underwear drawer to find the hot pink bra that went with the light pink panties with the hot pink lace. Or trying to find the black knee socks to wear under my knee-high boots, even though no one could see them. I wasted so much time color-coordinating my purse to my shoes, hunting through a tangle of jewelry for the earrings that went with a sweater or the necklace that brought out the silver in my dress. No more. Victoria's secret is that she doesn't have a 2-year-old screaming for apple juice while a newborn wails in the crib.

2. Writing thank you cards

I used to send them for everything. A birthday present, a bottle of wine brought to a dinner party, a good deed done by a kind-hearted soul. It's a good thing to send thank you cards and I still make the effort when I have time. But I've given up on trying to send thank you cards for everything now that I have kids. For one, I never have stamps (let me tell you about the time my 3-year-old mistook a book of stamps for stickers). Secondly, by the time I locate a card, a stamp, the address of the recipient and steal 10 minutes to write a note, I've forgotten what I'm thankful for.

Now I send thank you texts as soon as a gift is received or a kindness is done. While my inner Emily Post cringes, I'm content that I'm doing the best I can and my friends know I'm grateful even if my gratitude doesn't arrive on Hallmark via the postal service.

3. Reading all of the magazines

Once upon a time, I subscribed to no less than six magazines, as well as the daily newspaper. And I read them all, cover to cover. Then children came along and I found the pile of newspapers and magazines becoming overwhelming. For awhile when my oldest was a baby, I would tackle the pile once a week or so while he napped. It became a chore.

I started skimming for the most interesting articles, but even that wasn't enough to make a dent in the pile. I let all of my magazine subscriptions lapse and reduced my newspaper subscription to Wednesday and Thursday. Now I only buy a magazine if I know I'll read it within the week, and I usually have enough time to page through the newspaper twice a week. One day I'll subscribe to my favorites, but for now I'm letting go of the paper pile.

4. Dealing with my friends' drama

A friend would be fighting with a mutual friend over a perceived slight, another friend was refusing to deal with family issues that had been festering for years, a third friend was hating her job and wanted to vent about it. I used to let this stuff actually take up space in my brain—and my life. I've come to the realization that being a good friend doesn't mean internalizing everyone else's issues and complaints and letting myself become stressed and exhausted by problems that have nothing to do with me. The saying "Not my monkey, not my circus," works well in scenarios like these. Being supportive and encouraging, offering advice when it's solicited and staying quiet when it's not all work for me now.

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I have no doubt that as my children get older, I will let go of more things or return to spending time on things that I've put on the back burner for now (I need new underwear, after all, so they might as well match!). What have you given up since becoming a mom? And what do you still need to let go of? It's a good question to ask when you're awake at 2 a.m. because of something that really no longer matters to you.

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