Whoever told you that you can write your novel or start your home-based business while on maternity leave either has never had a baby or has an evil sense of humor. Preparing for how a baby changes your life means accepting that your relationship to time, sleep, and sweatpants is about to change, forever.
New Respect for Your Mom
Having a baby puts you on a new level with your own mother. You’ll find yourself wondering, “how did she do this,” several times a day—especially if you have siblings. If you are lucky enough to have your mom available to help out, by all means, accept her help. She may offer a lot of advice too, which may or may not be welcome, but it’s worth the listen if it buys you a few hours of sleep.
Intuition on Overdrive
Research suggests that a mother’s brain begins to change in pregnancy and that the changes are permanent. There are even studies that show that cells from the baby cross the placenta, enter the mother’s body, and stay there for life. These changes may be specific adaptations that help the mother focus on, recognize, and respond to the baby’s needs.
Finding Profound Meaning in Children’s Books, Television, and Music
You’ll never look at large green rooms, rocking chairs, or red barns the same way after reading classic bedtime books to your child hundreds of times. Suddenly colors, animal sounds, and simple representations of numbers take on previously unimagined significance. Those books will become so precious to you that you’ll store them carefully to present to your child when they become a parent.
New parents quickly begin to recognize the subtleties of children’s television. Creators of children’s TV slip in information and double meanings intended to help parents enjoy watching these programs with their children. You’ll find yourself looking forward to screen time filled with animated characters, gentle life lessons, and just plain silliness. You’ll belt out children’s television theme songs unapologetically in the car, at the park, and even in the grocery store. Songs your child responds to will become a permanent soundtrack in your head and your home.
Discovering Strength You Didn’t Think You Had
Yes, you can survive on three hours of sleep a night. You can safely strap a baby to your body, talk on the phone, and order diapers online simultaneously. You will come to understand sweatpants, sneakers, and messy ponytails as badges of mother-honor. Your priorities change. You’ll treasure that luxury baby gift set your best friend gave you far more than any new silk blouse.
Having a baby changes your life in wonderful, surprising ways, and those changes are permanent. Once a parent, always a parent. Savor the moments with your infant—before you know it, your child will be a toddler, and then (deep breath) a teenager. By then, you’ll be longing for the days of making silly faces and singing silly songs. Although you probably won’t miss the diaper changes so much!