Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Has being a parent made you a better person?

As today was my 5th morning in a row waking up before my alarm (or, in the case of the weekend, waking up at all) to comfort a crying and frightened child, I began to think about all the ways being a parent has changed me.

As all parents are undoubtedly aware, there is a distinction in my life of “before Kaden” and “after Kaden”. And it occurred to me that I really like my “after Kaden” self much, much better. Being a parent has made me a better person and I finally figured out why: for the first time in my life, I love another person more than my own life. That sounds decidedly trite, but it’s the defining factor in what changed me so much.

After putting my wants (quiet hot baths, alone with a book until the water got cold) and needs (sleep) aside to get up every single day for a solid year to feed a helpless, crying baby in the middle of the night, my perspective on life really changed. I know every parent has to do this, but I find my life now surrounded by people who are not parents (grouchy, unkempt 18-year-old college kids, heh) and I feel wise (read: old).

This morning Kaden cried out for me as he has every other morning this week, and my feet were on the floor before I’d even realized I was awake. I didn’t bother feeling sorry for myself and that hour of missed sleep, instead I greeted my sleepy boy and asked him how his sleep went. All HE wanted to do was cuddle with me in “Mommy’s bed” and read his books (I had to get ready for work). So today I am sporting a messy bun and the bare essentials of my make-up routine so that I could read “Miss Honey’s Busy Day” one more time before work.

I find myself being much better at my job and I think it’s because after having to multitask to get anything done for the past two and a half years, as long as my coworkers are not hanging on my leg and whining at me, it feels like their requests are laughably easy to handle. I’m more focused when I’m working on a project and I get it done in record time… because let’s face it, my “real” life has precious little time available and everything still needs to get done.

And the biggest change has been that I am easier on people now. After comforting a toddler who’s had a stressful experience, I realized that most people could really just use a little more compassion, especially other parents. You’ll never see ME rolling my eyes on an airplane because a Mom can’t get her toddler to sit still or stop crying.

Maybe if everyone, even nonparents, had to comfort a child with the flu while THEY had the flu, the world would be full of compassion (and better people). :)

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