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Have your priorities changed since you had children?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015  | 

What changes after you have a baby?

We went to a wedding last weekend - not as a family, not as parents, but as a couple! A few baby free hours together and it was lovely. Of course, as we spent most of the time chatting to friends and catching up, we ended up mostly talking about Millar!

One conversation I had has made me really think though. I was talking to someone I don't know very well and she asked 'what's the biggest change to your life since having a baby?'

Now, I have a bad track record at social events when people ask me questions about having a baby...I've learnt from experience that when women ask really detailed specific questions like that, they are probably either pregnant or are planning to be soon. I totally freaked someone out in the past giving her a graphic and honest account of childbirth, only to find a few weeks later that she was 8 weeks pregnant at the time - oops!

So when I was asked this question, I thought carefully about my answer and found it really difficult to explain. Millar is 13 days away from being one year old, so it is definitely an appropriate time to reflect.

I genuinely feel like a totally different person from the one I was a year ago. I used to (inwardly) roll my eyes when people said things like that before I had him, but I stand totally corrected. I am still me, but this me is so different from before.

Whereas before I had certain priorities- myself and my happiness, my partner, my job, my hobbies, my animals...now I still have all those things but my focus has totally shifted. One tiny little human has come along and bulldozed his way to the top of my priority list and made himself more important than any of them - probably put together. It's not that these things aren't important to me anymore - they are - but it's that he is the focus of everything.

I see the world differently now. I see the world in how it will relate to him and how it will affect him. I see his excitement at the flowers in the garden and his fear of loud, unpredictable places. I dream of holidays that he will love - places where he will be happy. It's such a cliché, but my world revolves around him - whether it should or not.

I now see the world as a mother; stories on the news that I wouldn't have thought much about before suddenly make me feel like crying. A mother whose child is being bullied makes me feel so so utterly sad for her - how awful to have your child hurt by someone else. I can't even imagine how you deal with that. Comic Relief took dozens of pounds of my money because every time I saw a parent who had lost a child just because they didn't have a mosquito net, I had to donate. Knowing what it took to bring those children into the world - the love and care to nurture them, the parents' suffering is inconceivable to me. And as a teacher, I am pretty sure I'm going to see parents' evening in a different light. I can now put myself in the shoes of these parents who only want what is best for their precious child.

So it's not the sleepless nights or the house full of garish plastic toys or the nursery rhymes and baby groups that are the biggest change since having a baby. Those things will pass. It's the total evolution of my whole view of the world that has hit me the most and I'm pretty sure THAT is here to stay.

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