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I’m Slowly Learning What It Means to Be a Mom

Mélanie Berliet is the Chief Editorial Director of Thought Catalog. Her work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Elle, Cosmopolitan, the Atlantic and New York Magazine, among many other publications.

I'm learning that I'll never feel alone, ever again

I’m slowly learning that I will never feel alone ever again because I am the mother to a daughter, and that will never change.

As far as realizations go, this is both liberating and terrifying. Liberating in that living with unconditional love in your heart frees you from seeking love out. Terrifying in that loving someone so hard makes you vulnerable to hurt and pain. Along with every memorable moment, there’s the possibility that something might go horribly wrong at any time.

I’m slowly learning that my life has changed. I’m no longer able to do the things that were once easy, mostly for logistical reasons. I cannot meet a friend for coffee or a drink at the last minute because socializing requires quite a bit of forethought. I can’t indulge a whim to hit the town at night without planning far in advance or paying for a babysitter. My day-to-day existence has shifted permanently to accommodate my little one. But I’m not at all resentful. I want to be with my baby pretty much always anyway.

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I'm learning that I'll never feel alone, ever again
Image: Mélanie Berliet

I’m slowly learning that my own needs are secondary to those of the tiny creature I’ve created, not because I’m an especially generous or kind individual, but because that’s what being a mom entails. There’s no avoiding it, really. When your baby needs to eat, you instinctively feed them. When they need a new diaper, you don’t let them sit in their soiled nappy for longer than absolutely necessary. When they cry, you work to soothe them.

I’m slowly learning that when you’re a mom, you can no longer be so particular about things. You eat what you can when you can. You won’t always be entirely sated, but you’ll barely register lack of satisfaction since there simply isn’t enough time. You get your nails done and your hair cut far less frequently than before, not because you’re any less vain, but because you forget to care about your own appearance. You exercise if and when you get the chance if and when you have the energy. At some point, it becomes easier to recall how many poopy diapers you changed the day before than what you ate for lunch that very afternoon.

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I’m slowly learning that being a mom is all-consuming. You never get to stop being a mom. Ever. And that’s the beauty of it. Parenthood is a cloud that hovers over you at all times — sometimes bright, fluffy and purely innocuous, other times suspiciously dark and foreboding.

I’m slowly learning that I’m a different person now. And that that’s OK. It would be impossible to remain the same. I am my former self, plus motherhood. I am not saying that being a mom requires abandoning every aspect of your former identity or becoming better in any way. But it does require making tough choices and learning. It demands stripping your old self down to her core and choosing which pieces of her are worth preserving and which pieces you’re better off jettisoning. It requires taking a hard look at yourself through the eyes of the person who’s pretty much programmed to adore you and to mimic your every move. It requires softening your heart and toughening your soul.

Originally published on Thought Catalog.

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