Reflections on O-N-E: I’ve Changed

I’m a few weeks behind Evvie’s actual first birthday, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing a lot of reflecting.

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I have so many feelings and so many emotions about the past year and then some. The biggest thing I’ve realized is that I’ve changed. I’ve realized that my little person, my baby girl, has changed me into someone I wasn’t sure I could ever become.

When I say I’ve changed, I don’t just mean my habits, or my routines or my priorities. I mean, yes, those have seriously changed. Becoming a parent changes you. It changes your relationships. It changes your values. It changes everyone in different ways.

But I mean the root of who I am as a person has changed. It happened in some instances slowly and over time and other periods more rapidly. Sometimes I’d stop and say, “Wow, this is really quite different now, isn’t it?” I’ve never really fully taken a moment to appreciate it until now.

I remember long before being married, pregnant and a mother that I knew I wanted kids. But a part of me was really intimidated and a little frightened by the fact that I didn’t have that innate nurturing feeling when I was around other little children. I was never the person to go up to my family and friends and ask to hold their kids. When it was my turn to hold the newborn baby at a “Sip and See,” I always declined.

So when we found out we were expecting, especially after the loss, I was over the moon with joy but also reserved. I woke up many nights wondering, “Will I love my child enough? What if I’m not a good mom? What if I don’t get that feeling everyone talks about? What if I resent my child for inhibiting me from living the life that I’m used to?”

The moment she entered this world I changed. Any feelings of reservation, of fear and of concern evaporated as if they were never there. In that split second of going from a family of two to a family of three, a new me was also born.

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In the time since she arrived, my life and focus have whole-heartedly been on bringing my daughter up to be a super smart, super loving person. It’s my priority, it’s my goal, it’s my ambition to raise her and teach her to be a better woman than I could ever be. It’s my self-assigned duty to find ways to make her smile every day. It’s my responsibility to show her what hard work and sacrifice looks like.

All of these new roles and responsibilities may have changed how I lived my life compared to the past, but that doesn’t mean they can’t and won’t still be a part of my life today.

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No, I don’t get to go out for Happy  Hours on a whim or dash out last minute for dinner and drinks on a weekend, but we do still make time for date nights (both as a family and as a couple) because it’s important to me that she see what parents and a family in love look like.

No, exercise hasn’t been something I’ve been able to maintain in a way that I used to, but it’s important to me to show Evvie how to work (and work HARD) with what you’re given. We run together and I work in interval training while I’m out on the road. I often stop so she and I can look at the trees or dogs passing by in the neighborhood. Running now is more than just exercise — it’s a special time for us to be together while building character (see, Keath, I’ve still got that motto!).

I, unfortunately, don’t get to see my friends as often as I used to (or would like to), but I make time for playdates, even for an hour, here and there so she gets to see how I interact with others and witness how important having a strong, close-knit group of friends in your life can really lift your spirits.

I don’t get to splurge on new, expensive things like I used to (though, C.D. would disagree here), but when I do indulge in a little shopping I find I’m splurging on her. Why? Because it brings me joy to see her happy. I remember asking my own Mom why she never shopped for herself and remember her telling me that, “She’d prefer to see us smile and enjoy something new.” I now feel that way.

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I’m more empathetic now. I reflect on times I’ve judged other parents and think about how I would feel today if the same assumptions were made against me. I’ve come to realize how many challenges parents are presented with and appreciate any and all efforts that go into raising a tiny army.

I’m more giving and have more drive to do more than I ever have. Sure, I’d give a few dollars here and there before when donation opportunities presented themselves. But now it’s more than just for “doing good.” It’s because I NEED to. It’s because my actions speak louder than my words and I want my daughter to grow up knowing it’s her responsibility to help others. I don’t want her to feel like giving back is a chore but a blessing and chance to create smiles just by simple acts.

I’m more spiritual now. This really started with Spike, but I pray daily and almost never for selfish reasons. Being granted a gift in the blessing that is my daughter has made me realize how many others need prayers of hope, of courage, of strength like I did in my time of need. I hope she finds comfort and peace in her faith, too.

I’m about to turn thirty and will soon start another chapter in my life, but I’m not sad in the least about it. I’m living the absolute best life I possibly could and it’s all in thanks to my most amazing, beautiful family and that tiny, wonderful person who has shaped me into the new me, Mom-me.

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Portraits by Rachel Megan Photography, a talented Saint Louis-based photographer.

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