8 Ways You’re a Better Person After Having Kids
If you conduct a survey of your peers to ask if they think they are “good people”, many will likely say yes. Many of us believe we’re inherently good, and even though we stumble, we strive to do what’s best. We don’t often think about how to become a better person.
I would have said the same thing about myself before I had my little one about 8 months ago. I went to church, helped others, and (for the most part) tried to do what’s right.
Something about my entire perspective changed after I had my son. I realized so many of my character traits had changed. Knowing my thoughts and actions were watched all the time made me really take a harder look at my life, my attitude, and my relationship with others.
Here are 8 ways I became a better person after becoming a mom.
I Became More Empathetic
Nobody ever told me I was empathetic, because, frankly, I never was. I always believed everyone should practice tough love, no matter what. I didn’t believe in handouts, and rarely did it seem okay to give someone else a leg up.
One situation, in particular, was that I didn’t like that so many of my college classmates had no student loan debt because their parents “babied” them. It seemed like those students didn’t learn the hard way how to be an adult and they didn’t get the chance to learn how to pay bills or manage finances. As a parent now, I completely understand wanting to take care of my kids in whatever way I can, even as I think about my little one as an adult.
Sometimes, I’m still tough on others, but certain people need tougher love than others. Sometimes, though, I step back and think about others’ perspectives for their actions in life. It’s okay that someone else had an “easier” upbringing than me. Given the choice, I’d want that for my kids, too.
I Became a More Assertive, Confident Person
As a shy introvert, speaking up is a challenge for me. I never spoke up at work, for fear of what others thought. I hated calling a stranger on the phone, even if it was just to schedule an appointment. Something changed after I had my son. I suddenly took on this more assertive role in my life.
Between my son and me, I am the one in charge, and I have to make the tough decisions quickly. I used to find myself looking around for the “adult” in the situation to make the decision, realizing it’s me now.
This confidence carried over to many more aspects of my life, too. I speak up with issues at work and I give my opinion on projects. I’m a better teammate and coworker now because of it.
I Strengthened My Relationship with God
When my little one was born, I had to turn to God so much more often for guidance. I always felt in control of my life before, with God in the passenger’s seat next to me. After having my son, I couldn’t do that anymore. God had to drive the car for me while I sat in the passenger’s seat, along for the ride. So many aspects of children are out of your hands and the only thing you can do is pray. Pray for them. And pray for your family.
Sometimes, you have to pray for strength to make it through another colicky afternoon. Or, you have to pray that your child receives the care he needs when you’re at work. Whatever it is, you become closer to God and know that he’s going to take care of you and your family.
I also began doing devotionals again. It’s funny how I have less time now, but spend more of it with God. I received this Women’s Devotional Bible in high school, but until I had kids, many of the devotionals weren’t very relevant in my life. Now, they hit home so much for me. When it talks about finding time for God, or being less anxious, or being a selfless parent, I glean so much from simply diving into the bible. If you’re looking for a solid devotional bible, I highly recommend it.
I Make More Time for Others
One major aspect of my personality is that I love to create schedules and set agendas, and I need to stick to them. I never wanted anything to make me late or make me go off plan, so I walked around the office with my eyes straight ahead, avoiding any distractions. I didn’t want to chit-chat with others because there was no time.
This feigned busy-ness made me believe plans were so much more important than relationships I had with others. As soon as church was over, my husband and I beelined it to the car and headed straight home, mumbling a goodbye to anyone who said it to us first.
Now, with my son, I take some more time to stick around and converse with my friends or to meet others. My son made me realize that nothing in my life is so important that I can’t take a few minutes to connect with a dear friend.
I’m so much more deeply connected with people that I somehow see less than I ever did before. I make the smaller connections count. I send thinking of you notes and cards to let my friends know they’re on my mind. I’m simply a better friend than ever before.
I’m More Passionate About Life
I was living my life on autopilot. Anything that steered me off-course or involved too much effort, and I shut down. I didn’t want to go out of my comfort zone, and I especially didn’t think to pursue anything “fun” would ever be worth my time.
Now that I have a family in the picture, my desire to provide the best life for them fuels me. I think about my passions every single day, and they guide my decisions. They’re no longer just cool ideas I’d one day like to pursue; I now take action toward completing them.
I strive to be the parent who’s supportive of my child’s passions, no matter how obscure those passions seem. My husband and I want to be supportive of his dreams and to love him for the cool things he’s going to be passionate about.
At the end of the day, I want to say that I lived the day with passion and with a fire to work toward that passion. Mostly, I want to see that in my family, too.
I’m More Willing to Put Others First
I never thought of myself as a selfish person. Most people in my life would probably have agreed with me. However, when I found out I was pregnant I became terrified thinking I had to now care for someone else. I couldn’t believe that I’d have to think about this little child and put all his needs before my own. It was entirely unfathomable. And downright scary.
After he was born, I’d like to say I was instantly “cured” of my selfishness and always put his needs before my own. That’s not true. It became an instant battle between his needs and mine, especially during maternity leave. It was an incredibly rough time for me (more about that in a later post) and I couldn’t find the balance.
When I finally figured out the majority of my issue was that I wasn’t willing to put my own needs behind those of someone who needed me, things quickly changed.
Once it became the intentional decision to put myself second (or third, or fourth), I realized just how rewarding it was to be….less selfish. I hesitate to say I am selfless that will never be the case. Yet, every day I find myself thinking less about my own wants and thinking about the desires of those around me.
I Realized a Better Person is Still Imperfect
I despise being late to anything. My husband is even worse with this. Before our son was born, we’d usually show up first to everything.
I’ve been late since my son was born more than the rest of my life combined. This seems to happen in getting us to church on Sundays. A few times, we forgot the diaper bag at home and had to go back. A few times, we had a diaper/food emergency and had to make a stop. Other times, I just lost track of time.
I’m lucky my workplace is really flexible with time because I’ve also been “late” to work several times. Even though I try to be one of the first in the office, I’ve dealt with my share of baby emergencies that had me in the office a half hour or more later than I wanted.
One time, I was 10 minutes late to a meeting I led. My son had a doctor’s appointment and it ran significantly longer than it should have. I drove really fast and still ended up late. I come walking into my own meeting, sweating, flustered, and late. Hot mess express over here.
When he was first born, this drove me absolutely up the wall. Now, I’ve accepted it as fact. I have to be flexible and be okay with less-than-perfect. If my peers and coworkers understand, then I should, too.
I Don’t Blame Difficult Situations on Bad Parenting
My employer sent to a conference a few weeks ago that required I fly out to the West coast. I flew on four planes total and sat next to a parent with a baby on two of the flights. One flight was nearly three hours delayed and didn’t take off until 11:30 p.m. By that time, I was spent. I got to my aisle and saw a mother with her sleeping 6-month-old in her arms. It was so beautiful.
I couldn’t imagine being as tired as I was and also having to take care of my little guy, too. I couldn’t believe how brave she was. She told me her grandmother had died so she needed to visit the Midwest for a funeral. Because of all the delays on her way home, she took the 4-hour flight back in the middle of the night with her baby in tow.
He slept in her arms for the first half of the flight and then got fussy. His fussiness woke me up and I looked over to see an exhausted mom trying her best to settle him down before he woke too many others up. She apologized when she saw me look over to her, but I told her not to worry. I understood this situation wasn’t her fault at all.
Before becoming a mom, I would have been livid. I would have been upset that a mom would dare to bring a baby on a plane, much less let that baby cry. I understand now that she had an incredibly well-behaved son and she was blessed that he slept at all. Many babies wouldn’t have been so good.
Had her son cried the entire flight, would that have made her a bad mom? Nope. I couldn’t imagine bringing my son on a plane, 4 hours after his bedtime, sitting in an uncomfortable position, and hoping he’d be good. I would have been terrified. I’m just not that strong. She, on the other hand, is Wonder Woman. She got him back to sleep in about 10 minutes and didn’t even break a sweat.
Kids will be kids. Sometimes, you’re going to deal with a cranky kid and sometimes they won’t bother to listen to you. Even the best parents in the world will have this. We’ve had that I’m THAT mom with THAT baby moment before.
Now that I’m a parent, I seldom take the self-righteous route of judging how others parent their children because, at the end of the day, we’re all doing our best.
In what ways are you a better person now that you have children?