Having children changed me, even without my meaning for this to happen. I hang out with two little kids all day long, and it's impossible for this not to shape me.
I care more about some things than ever before -- ingredients in store-bought foods, public schools and education -- and I care a lot less about other things.
Six things I started caring about after having kids:
1. Rory Gilmore's love life.
I didn't watch television before having kids, aside from Seinfeld reruns and football, and the occasional food documentary. Now, however, I have a much needed date each night with Netflix and a glass of wine (and my husband, of course).
Parenting is the most rewarding, hardest job ever. Self-care and downtime are required.
2. The size of my pants.
I started caring more than ever about the size of my pants after having kids. I started paying attention to my attachment to my weight because I'm raising two girls and I want them to avoid the eating-disorder struggles and the self-loathing that I battled. So I've given myself permission to be honest about my body image, but to not negatively be defined by my physical self either.
For the first time maybe ever I genuinely love myself. I'm one of those unicorn-moms who wears yoga shorts and doesn't care what my butt and thighs look like. Deciding to accept that I've held myself up to meaningless societal standards for a lifetime ironically helped me purge them.
(It helps that I don't know my true size, since the yoga pants I live in aren't that specific.)
3. If I'm liked.
I do care if people like me, but the people pleaser in me largely went away when I had a better reason to grow up and like myself regardless of unimportant outside feedback--my children.
4. If I have food between my teeth.
I do still appreciate a heads up if I have salad from lunch wedged between my two bottom teeth, but since I generally have food on my clothes, or in my hair, it's really less significant now.
Planning for our future as a family, and for my kids, is more important to me now than ever, but regularly reminding myself to stay right here in this beautiful chaos that is life with little kids means more than ever, too.
I'll always be a little bit Type A and a lot anal-retentive, but my previous ideas of perfection are nothing like my current ones. Lately, if my house is clean, and the kids and I are clean, and cared for, and fed, then everything else is icing.
Because we have these ideas of what a parent looks like--of what a mother should be--and I, at least, work every day to try to be this ideal creation.
And then I have to force myself to stop; to look in the mirror; to see the real woman looking back at me--to choose to care about her and like her, exactly as she is.
There is no perfect woman.
There is no perfect mother.
We are all perfect.
We are all deserving of love and respect for living authentically inside of our skin and our lives. I hope to teach my daughters this, too.