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The Lie Everyone Tells Pregnant Women

Photograph by Twenty20

I heard it a lot while I was pregnant the first time: motherhood was going to change me completely. I heard it when I was pregnant the second time: having two children would change my life forever. (By the third pregnancy, people just shook their heads and told me I was on my own.)

This change I was told to anticipate felt daunting, because it sounded so negative. For someone pregnant for the first time—someone who can't even imagine what is around the corner—the last thing you want to hear is that you will actually become a different person. Where’s the security in that?

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Before having children, I had a lot of freedom. I worked in a profession that enabled me to move a lot—which I did, eight times between 1994 and 2006. I could more or less reduce my possessions to suitcase-size whenever I wanted. I was spontaneous, a risk-taker, a little brave. I was social and liked to be around people who were inspiring and funny and smart. I was never afraid of change and, in fact, craved it.

These were traits I worried I’d have to give up as a mother, and I wondered who I’d become without them.

But here’s what I’ve learned after six years in the mothering game: if anything, I’m more myself than before, because for a person who craves change and challenge, there’s really nowhere to look than within.

I worried that I’d not have time for friendships. That I’d never have time for a morning shower again. That I wouldn’t recognize my own body. That my relationship to my husband would be strained. That I’d never sleep again. That I’d lose my passions, my hobbies, my humor, myself.

But here’s what I’ve learned after six years in the mothering game: if anything, I’m more myself than before, because for a person who craves change and challenge, there’s really nowhere to look than within.

Motherhood has changed my routine. I’m more still in some senses. Geographically, for one. I’ve already lived in our current town longer than anywhere else in my life. Because of this, I am not constantly saying good-bye to friendships but letting them grow while meeting new people all the time.

And being still has made me realize a job that let me move around so much wasn't enough for me when I wasn't, you know, moving around so much. I finally took a shot at what I'd always wanted to do, which is get a degree in creative writing. I've also started a blogging and journalism career.

My time is sparse in a way it wasn't before. No getting around that. But that’s actually a big blessing, because it means I use it more wisely. I don’t waste time doing anything that doesn’t enrich me, including the company I keep, the activities I engage in, the conversations I have, the work that I do.

I’m still the same person. If anything, I’m more myself, because I don’t really have time to carry around anything that isn’t genuine.

I don’t go out every night because there's nothing else to do. I take baths and listen to podcasts and read books. I haven’t stopped learning or taking time to pursue new ideas or interests. And I spend time with friends taking walks and going jogging—but also drinking champagne and listening to records, which makes me feel every bit myself and not at all isolated or lonely. Tonight, a friend—the mother of my son's best friend— and I are going to our first drum lesson together, something I've wanted to do since I was 15.

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So there has been change, but I have not changed. I’m still the same person. If anything, I’m more myself, because I don’t really have time to carry around anything that isn’t genuine. I don’t really have time for detours in my life, like deciding to move to a new country out of boredom. I don’t really have time to be bored. My core character traits are the same, they are just expressed a little differently.

And maybe this is the change that people mean when they tell expecting parents their lives are about to change forever. Their lives are indeed about to change forever, but in my experience the change is much more for the better.

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