There aren’t many things that can have a profound effect on the way that you think, the way that you smile and the way that you carry yourself in the same way that motherhood can. Carrying and growing a child from scratch within your core is life-changing, and not just because you carry the physical effects of child bearing. Motherhood changes you in so many different ways. Your sleep and ability to stay asleep for a full night will change. Your stretchmarks and scars are irreversible. The hip bones that softened and widened are irreversible. One moment you are able to think of yourself as a woman, a free spirit, a force of nature and put yourself first and the next, this new little life that came screaming into yours comes first above all others. Everything changes once you become a mother; you can’t help but think of the little life you created before your own. The visceral feeling of love and the raw need to protect are suddenly a fire in your empty belly, and it’s up to you to make sure that your new baby is safe and loved. Woe betide anyone who tries to come between your new bond.

Motherhood is not something that is easy to explain to someone who hasn’t been through it before. You won’t be the same person you were before your children arrived. The pre-baby you may have danced around when it comes to heading out to the store, leaving the front door unlocked and feeling perfectly safe to do so. The post-baby you will likely feverishly research security systems for your home to make sure that no one could ever be in your home without your say so. Your life is going to change in ways that you never dreamt of and the love that you feel is one that you probably couldn’t have imagined before your child was born. You will learn to adapt and change at the drop of a hat; your baby will need that of you. It’s the only way to get through motherhood intact, and it’s the only way to survive the chronic exhaustion that comes with it. Surviving on only two to three hours of broken sleep a night becomes so normal, that a full night of sleep makes you feel horrendous. Surviving your boss when your child gets sick and you have to take a personal day becomes a skill.

One of the biggest things that you gain with motherhood is a maturity beyond anything you will ever experience. Sure, you’ll still know how to be silly. You’ll know how to play and rough and tumble with the best of them, but you’ll be far more mature. You’ll no longer need a constant stream of praise to keep you motivated. It’s nice to get it, but you’ll thrive far better on the fact your child is happy. Sticky fingers and wide, sunny smiles will be all the motivation that you need to get housework done, to do your usual job and to be the best mother that you can be. You’re going to learn that it’s not the end of the world to go out without makeup or have your hair unbrushed and tied on the top of your head. Motherhood changes you, as it makes you realize what’s important and what isn’t.

Motherhood will teach you that you were the wrong kind of mother before your baby came along. All those platitudes about no pacifiers will go flying out of the window when it’s 3am and you haven’t slept for three days. You can be the most perfect parent because of all your own imperfections, and it’s only when you become a mother that you learn that. The media and magazines would love to paint a picture of how a mother should act, and what a mother should do. You’ll learn very quickly that the only expectations that you have to live up to are those of your child. You see, motherhood will teach you to have a backbone, to advocate for your child before anyone else. It gives you a strength of character and a whole new side to yourself that you may not have realized that you even had. Motherhood is a blessing, beautiful, frightening, overwhelming and it’s the one thing in your life which will define you and make you into the person you always wished that you could be. That baby and your new life is going to change you, and you should let it.

Shop the Zyia Active Mothers Without Borders event to have your proceeds donated to helping orphaned children and local woman living in Zambia.

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