Let’s face it. Being a mother changes who you are. It really does. I never used to be an emotional person. Oh wait, scratch that. I never used to be a SOPPY person. You know, one of those people that cries at the drop of a hat? Who has little tearies when a moving ad comes on. If my mum would cry because of something in a movie I would say “Mum! Get over yourself!” Now I fear my children will be saying it to me when they’re older.
You see, your whole perspective changes. The child crying, lost at the station (that horrible quit smoking ad) is your child. The family waiting for their father to come home from work (work cover ads) is your family. The first time I watched Titanic after I’d had my first son, and I saw the mother and baby floating frozen in the sea towards the end of the film, I started crying. Because I was imagining that baby being my baby.
For me, being a mother has made me less careless and irresponsible. I would never go skydiving again for fear of leaving my sons motherless. If some losers are walking past my house being loud and obnoxious I will no longer scream out to them “Shut the hell up you filthy bogans!” for fear of them coming and threatening my children. Even as pathetic as worrying when I go out at night that random things will happen to me which will leave my sons motherless- getting into a car accident, falling tree branches, being kidnapped or raped (touch wood to all of those). I NEVER used to care about these things before I had children. Before motherhood I was indestructible. “It won’t happen to me” was my motto. I would have tried anything, and the scarier the better. I liked testing life’s boundaries. God knows how I’ll deal with it if my sons ever get to that stage.
But it’s even little, random things. It’s like that episode of Scrubs when Turk and Dr Cox are talking about how being a parent changes your life and the way you see everything. For most people having poo, spew or boogers on your hand is disgusting. But if I’m changing my baby’s nappy or wiping my 3yo’s bum and I get poo on my hand, it’s no big deal, I just grab a wipe or piece of tp and wipe it off. Hey, sometimes I even forget to wash my hands afterwards. And I could walk around all day with my top smelling like baby spew and it doesn’t bother me.
Now, I think like a mother. I haven’t chosen to do so. I didn’t consciously choose to start thinking responsibly. It’s just that everyone I come in contact to I see as someone’s son or daughter, or someone’s mother or father.My friend across the road popped by after a run one day, having seen Lachlan and me playing in the front yard. When we went inside I offered for her to ring her her mum and tell her where she was, which she didn’t, with my old attitude of “she’ll be right”. Needless to say, her mum came knocking, worried sick. When my friend told her mum I’d suggested she ring and say where she was, her mum said “You should have listened to her, she’s a mum now!”
I also remember having a conversation many times about how no good deed is ever selfless, because at the end of the day you do a good deed because you want to help someone, because it makes YOU feel good. That is, until you have children. And everything you do for your children is for THEIR happiness, THEIR well-being, THEIR safety. It doesn’t matter if the decision you make makes you feel like shit (and believe me, sometimes they do), because THEY are what’s important. They are THE most important people in your life, more than your partner, more than yourself.
Being a mother exposes you to the beauty of unconditional love. I don’t believe unconditional can exist for any other relationship except a parent for their child, and vice versa. It’s the most humbling, most fulfilling, most painful type of love there is.
So, I might still be Melissa Wallace- cheeky, immature, sometimes selfish, stubborn, determined, and fun-loving, but being a mum does take precedence over all of those. Not by choice. That’s just the way it is.