Motherhood has changed my life, the way I look at my life and experience the world and people around me. And most of all, it has changed me. I’m still me, still Kari or Kaatje, as my mom likes to call me. But different in so many ways. Sometimes change is met by objection, aversion or even rejection by the people that thought they knew you. They speak the words as if they leave a bad taste in their mouth: ‘You have changed’. I should know, I lost one of my best friends when I became a mother. And even though that hurts me a lot, I celebrate change. I celebrate the new me. The mama- me. Isaya is the biggest thing that ever happened to me, so if that doesn’t change me, what will? I am not braver or better or smarter. I am still imperfect and a hot mess at times. But I am so much happier.
I used to analyze myself a lot. I would always think about why I thought, felt or did certain things. I studied to be a therapist, so I loved going all Jung on myself. If someone asked me ‘why do you think you feel that way?’ I would have the most elaborate musings about the why’s and how’s of my brain and heart and how they reacted on other brains and hearts. When I became a mom I discovered self-analysis is a luxury, made possible by sleep and ‘me-time’. Two things that disappear from your life as soon as your baby is born. So now, when someone asks me why I felt or reacted a certain way, my reply is ‘probably because I didn’t get enough sleep last night’.
We have been blessed with a baby that has not slept through the night once in her life. The lack of sleep has changed me. I don’t read that much anymore, it takes longer to learn new things or digest knowledge, I have become more forgetful and less interested in current affairs. These changes are sometimes difficult to accept. But at the same time my foggy brain protects me from caring too much. One day my longing for ‘depth’ will return, I’m sure of that. But for now I quite enjoy my ignorant little baby bubble. The best diapers, how incredibly cute Aya looks in dungarees, a new way to get her to eat vegetables, the discovery of a new, fun playground in the neighborhood: these are the current affairs that have my attention.
I know a lot of mamas out there will not like what I have written. After all, we live in a time that asks of women to do and be it all. We can be soft, milky mommies for a bit, sure, but we are expected ‘to get ourselves together’ and go back to running the world after a few weeks. Go back to work, compete with the boys and shut off the milk-tap. I don’t have a problem with mothers who choose that life. I admire them in many ways. Just like I admire all mothers who love their babies. But this mama has decided to stop competing for a while. I’d rather run the world while holding Isaya’s hand.
Because, before I became a mother I would philosophize a lot about the meaning of (my) life. Now that I have a baby I don’t do this anymore. And not because of lack of sleep or time. But because the meaning of my life became clear as glass the moment Isaya was born.