Four months ago I became a mother for the third time. And as I began to experience firsts all over again, I realized something: I’m not the same mom I was. Of course, every child is different, but it’s more than that. Each one changed me.
I called my mom two weeks before my first little boy was due. I’d taken baby classes, birthing classes, and breastfeeding classes. I’d grown up babysitting cousins. (And I have a lot of them!) But still, I was in tears, convinced I would fail. I had no idea how to take care of a baby.
After he was born, I had rules. Lots of rules. Everyone washed their hands before holding him. I (attempted) to schedule his feedings, his naps, his playtime. I even had a rule about how long you could hold him after he was asleep. (Which I’d completely forgotten about until my mom mentioned it)
Now I have a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a little one. This past week I took them all to the Rio Grande Nature Center. (Albuquerque mommas, this place is amazing for kiddos of all ages, go!) I nursed while watching the turtles outside the observatory windows. With my oldest, I was uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. I always tried to have a bottle pumped. Now, I don’t even bother with a cover.
Thinking about that difference made me realize how much I’ve changed.
With baby number three, I don’t have a nap or feeding schedule. I will let anyone who can get him to stop crying hold him. And I just recently purchased a co-sleeper bed, something that would have terrified me before.
As I look back on my parenting journey, (the parts I can remember anyway, yay sleep deprivation) I see the transformation. Yes, every child is different. But more than that, every child teaches you something different about parenting and something different about yourself.
There are benefits and challenges to having more than one kiddo. But I am grateful for the growth each of my children has fostered. The patience. Love. Empathy. I’m stronger, more confident. Not just as a mother, but as a person.
I am not the same woman, I am not the same mom, who gave birth for the first time in November 2011. I’ve changed. And I cannot thank my children enough.
Originally published April 2017