As I was stood watching the parade at the Magic Kingdom, my eyes teared up and my heart swelled as I saw my children's sweet, smiling faces and hands waving at the characters. They were so full of joy as Merida, Rapuzel, Tinker Bell, Elsa, Snow White and all of their favorite princesses waltzed by. They were in awe just as I was, completely dazed as I marveled that I actually have children, two of them, both miracles and both the center of my world.
It's hard to believe it's been over six years since I became a mother. It's something I never even wanted as a teen, and then what I immediately craved right after I was married. Though I always dreamed of a successful career, boy, did that biological clock tick loudly. But who knew the trek to motherhood would be almost impossible, and the conception and deliveries so incredibly difficult?
But now that I'm here, a veteran of the baby years and a newbie to big-kid-land, I'm shocked at the person I've become. You know, the one who cries at Disney each time we visit. The one who checks on the girls and kisses them every night before I go to bed. The one who puts her children first, sometimes to the detriment of herself. Gone are the party days, the sleeping in and the shopping on weekends just for fun... replaced with potty training, never-ending laundry and, well... little to no sleep. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. Those little girls with joyful hearts and spirits are more important than the air I breathe, and I am supremely lucky to hold the title "Mom."
I often ask athletes and celebs during interviews what has surprised them the most about parenthood, and when they turn the question back on me, I always say how much it's changed me. I am a work in progress, but I am most certainly a different person than I was before I embarked on our infertility journey over 13 years ago.
Here are 10 ways motherhood has changed me:
1. I finally understand what patience means. Though I'm still impatient by nature, I now know how to count to 10 and breathe before I react. (Well... some of the time.)
2. My career is on a totally different trajectory. I've accepted it, and am happily walking down my new path.
3. Going with the flow has taken on a whole new meaning. Nothing goes according to plan in this new life, and expecting the unexpected is crucial for our sanity.
4. Perfectionism is not allowed in Mom World. Learning to be OK with less-than-perfect is beyond hard... but so utterly necessary.
5. Supermom is a myth. Thank goodness I learned the truth and she doesn't need to exist!
6. Sleep is no longer a necessity, but a gift.
7. Guilt exists. Enough said.
8. Ponytails are an indicator of a successful morning. It means you actually had time to get ready.
9. Coffee is my new best friend. So is wine.
10. Most importantly, our children are our mirrors, and they make me want to be a better person every single day. Less judging, more positivity, a healthy self image... it's amazing to me how much we grow into ourselves once we have children.
Parenting has given me a greater purpose and is the most important job of all. Children are our sponges, and we need to fill them with love, light and positive examples, even if it means really examining our own lives and bettering ourselves in the process. Some may say I'm boring and need to get out more, but I think I'm exactly where I'm meant to be: Muddling through this motherhood journey and sharing little pieces I learned along the way.