by Daniella Rabbani, Honest motherhood contributor
I spent the first - I dunno - month or four trying to get “back” to my pre-baby weight, my pre-baby life, my pre-baby ME. Futile effort lemme tell ya. Because there’s no “back” space in life. There’s only ever moving forward.
I remember saying, “Oh wow, they’ve really lost themselves”, when talking about friends who recently had a baby. They’d just like only talk about their kids or decline social hangs or generally stop washing their hair. Which I, at the time, thought I understood. But I didn’t. They weren’t “lost.” They were changed. They had a new priority (turns out by definition there’s only one of those). A new deep love. New dreams. A whole new set of hormones to deal with. New schedule. New life. Theirs and their babies'. So... new lives.
Here are three ways I’ve changed. I’m sure there are more, but we’d have to ask to ask around because I’ve only got so much perspective:
1. I look like hot garbage a lot of the time. I’ve accepted it. I don’t wanna put on makeup. And ‘art teacher’ flowy mismatched patterns have always really been my aesthetic. I haven’t fully lost the baby weight which is maddening but my husband still thinks I’m fiiiiiiiineeeee.
2. I’m getting really good at being better. I’m a big believer in modeling behaviors for our kids. Like if I want Ness to say “thank you,” I say thank you to him or anyone else who does something nice instead of telling him to parrot a nicety that he doesn’t see enacted in his life. Ya, feel me? I mean, that’s a pretty concrete example. But this mom game is super subtle. Parents program children’s subconscious beliefs that in turn create their lifelong reality. So... if I want Ness to be confident, fully expressed, joyous and mindful of others, I’ve gotta model that for him. Yikes! No presh! This is a daily minute by minute check-in. And it feels very, very real for me. I’ve always been a self-improvement junkie (mostly because I wanted stuff, and that’s how they say you get it) but now it’s deeper. More real in a way. So I work hard at getting better while accepting where I’m at.
3. I’m not ambitious in the same way as I was before. There’s a softness about me when it comes to my work as an actor that I wonder about. Will it serve me in the long run? I hope so. The softness comes from a slight mushiness that happened to my brain... I think they say that pregnancy and motherhood actually change our brain chemistry to make us more compassionate (mush?). Which is true for me. So I see the world through a softer lens. I’m not as angry. I was really angry before. I practice seeing Ness’ perspective when he’s, say, freaking out. I try to “sportscast” as Janet Landsbury suggests: just narrating what’s going on (e.g., “I see you want that knife. I can’t let you play with knives. I see you’re frustrated about that”) rather than fixing or distracting him from what’s going on. It’s helped me exercise this level of understanding and patience w even the most triggering of characters. Hallelujah!!
I honestly couldn’t tell you if I’ve changed for better or for worse. All I can say is that when a baby is born a mother is born. So I’m like 19 months old now. Brand spanking new me.
What about you? How have you changed? I’d love to hear.
Daniella Rabbani is a Brooklyn based actress and the honest motherhood contributor to the MU community. Her full time gig is mama to Ness.