How Being a Mom Changes You (For the Better)
Why we end up new and improved after we have kids
I made a great many resolutions when my children were born. Some were vague, if heartfelt: I'll take good care of you; I will keep you safe. Some were specific: I'll breastfeed you for at least six months; I'll never hit you. It was a momentous turning point, the birth of a child, filled with pain and emotion. It was a date to remember forever. And so, of course, it was a time for resolutions.
There seems to be some very basic primal need to mark important dates by making resolutions. I've been greeting the first day of this or the first day of that with a list of ways to better myself for as long as I can remember. Starting with the first day of the new semester, I will stop procrastinating. Starting with the first day of the new job, I will be organized. Starting on my birthday, I will answer all my e-mail promptly. Starting on virtually any landmark day you can think of (the Fourth of July, the day after Thanksgiving), I will exercise regularly and eat a much healthier diet.
And yes, I have accumulated quite a pile of failed and repeated resolutions (I have been resolving to stop procrastinating since high school, which means that I have now successfully put it off for decades). But I keep making them, and I wouldn't want to give up the practice. It suggests that change for the better really is possible and that today could be the first day of a new, improved me. Or maybe tomorrow.
But having a child was different. Becoming someone's mother meant that my role in the world had changed -- I wasn't just the same old me trying to be a new, improved version. I was a mother, really and truly and forever, and the question was, what kind of person, what kind of mother, would be reflected in my child's eyes?