Nothing cleans your emotional house like having zero time for BS, which is what happens when you become a parent.
I love motherhood. I’m happy to bust my a** every day for the rest of time just to see my kid’s million-dollar smile. What I didn’t expect is that while we are distracted by day to day life with kids, parenthood sneaks in and bulldozes half the stuff we used to think mattered. We blink, and suddenly everything we used to trip over has disappeared (nature’s way of making room for Lego).
In the early days of parenthood we learn that we no longer have time for drama or time-suckage of any kind. At first, this left me feeling kind of empty and alone. I didn’t know what to do with my new world. But in time, the space where difficult relationships used to live became filled up with better things.
Parenthood means that suddenly you no longer have energy to accept anything less than what your kid deserves. That new measuring stick cuts out a lot of the crap you may have tolerated for years. It changes your role. It leaves the leaners with nothing to lean on.
If you were a doormat pre-kid, that’s done. You no longer have time to be walked all over when you’re always in the driver’s seat and being observed by a little sponge of a human.
People seem to decide pretty quickly if they still like you or not when you become a parent. Once I became a mom, my previously pushover self started to let people know when I didn’t appreciate certain behaviors. I began spending less time with people who stressed me out. I stopped trying to make sure everyone else was happy with me (and my parenting).
Everyone has an opinion when they’re not the one holding the puke bucket at 3 am. That has become my new measure for who gets to judge my parenting. Were you holding the bucket? Did you comfort this baby while he got his shots? Did you pack his school lunch? If you are here in the arena with me, hauling groceries and brushing little teeth, then please judge away.
Over the last 5 years I’ve realized that if you allow only what’s best for your child, you’ll end up with what’s best for you too. You want him not to see conflict or spend time with people who will disappoint him? Perfect. Guess what happens? The goodness starts to show up for both of you.
This is what I know now: Life gives you what you accept and what you ask for; nothing more. Pre-motherhood I didn’t get that. I envy those who perfect the art of having boundaries early in life. It took 37 years and having a child for me to figure it out.
I’m not saying a life of luxury and perfection appeared when I learned to have boundaries. Parenting is not a cake walk. It’s a constant juggling act and it takes a ton of work to play bouncer at the door of your kids’ life while paying the bills and making sure they have everything they need. There’s so much pressure to get everything right. The world is not easy on moms, and even harder on single moms.
But in those moments when the right energy or person or job shows up, I realize that this is what I’ve created just by focusing less on the external noise and more on being a good parent.
In the absence of the pre-kid emotional clutter, it’s easier to decide what works. No one spends time in our world unless their presence contributes positively to our lives. Focusing on what’s good for my son has turned out to be the best possible way to re-evaluate my own standards and distill my life down to what really matters. I no longer trip on stuff that should have been swept away years ago. These days I trip over Transformers and Hot Wheels, and the pain is much easier to take.