When you had your baby or adopted your child… how did it change you?
In the first year i tried so hard at being the perfect parent that i didn't really have time for anything else. I didn't have time for me and heading to work each day felt like a struggle. It's a transitional time. You can just feel the love and the emotions bubbling out of your soul as you try to get on with normal life... it’s a huge, life changing period. And with adopting you have the added layer of uprooting a child, bonding, so much change for that little person to think about. Sometimes, as a new parent, you can feel you may lose your identity. I don't know i if i lost who i was completely... but i know that person did go away for a bit.
I can't imagine what going through a nine month pregnancy with the hormones, labour and the body changes afterwards can do to a woman. You go from being ‘you’ who only ever had to look after yourself to being a parent over night. Very different roles to one another. After our first year i did start to feel like we had this parenting thing nailed. We'd bonded amazingly with our little boy and we had found our groove as a family. Then we both started to find that time for ourselves again. I'd write and see my friends more and my husband was getting back to his art and creativity... slowly but surely we were rediscovering who we were, but this time, as dads. It took a while to re-adjust for sure.
I wanted to talk to parents that have children of different ages and ask how they generally feel at whatever time they are in in their parenting journey. Whether they are four months in or seven years down the line. Do they have a grip on who they are? Do they love who they are or who they're becoming? Does it ever get easier? Do they have fears? Concerns? Are they loving every single thing that parenting has brought them?
Sarah, 39, mum to a four month old baby boy
I don't know who I am anymore. I used to have a very strong sense of self, but that has totally disappeared since being pregnant and then having a baby. I feel like I'm in a limbo between my old self and the mother I should be. I'm not sure why this is or whether it is normal. It took me a while to feel connected to my baby - I definitely did not pop him out and fall in gushy love instantly. I think that was in part because I felt so ill throughout my pregnancy, which felt so long, and then I think I was a bit traumatised from my birth experience that I felt really numb for a while. I found pregnancy very tough mentally which might have taken a while to get over.
My body also hasn't recovered as quickly as I thought it would which also makes me feel different. However, now I am four months into motherhood, the connection is there and really strong. I love my son with every cell in my body. There is a huge well of love in me, bubbling under the surface, that could erupt at any moment. I have to keep the feeling in check because if I let it out full force I will literally ball my eyes out continually whilst crouching over him Gollum style. That would not be productive! Along with the love comes the fear and anxiety. Again, this needs to be kept in check or I'd need to be medicated. I am hoping the craziness of uncontrollable emotion is due to hormones and will calm down at some point.
So in summary pregnancy and motherhood has changed me, but I'm not quite sure yet who the final product will be...and it has definitely made all the feels come out!
Kate, 29, Blogger @ LesbeMums, mum to a two year old boy
Becoming a mum not only changed my life, but it changed me as a person. Things I once gave two hoots about soon become insignificant, which was expected, however, sometimes, I wasn't ok with this. Sometimes, being a mum made me feel like I was losing my identity as 'me'. I felt that since becoming a mum, that's all I was and that's all I could be. This little being depended on me - I didn't have the time (or energy) to be anything or anyone else so I felt like I was losing myself.
Being a same sex family as well meant we tried for a long time to fall pregnant; therefore you would think that once our son arrived we'd be overjoyed and never need anything ever again. How wrong were we. No matter how hard we tried, we still wanted to be us, but the 'us' before parenthood. The us that enjoyed late night films, live music, and cinema dates. But that wasn't allowed, surely? How could we be so selfish?
We adore our son and are eternally grateful to have him but we are still people with our own needs and we needed to accept that it was ok to feel this. Although that didn't stop me feeling guilty if I dare think about doing something for me - like a shower!
Over time I've learnt to find a balance. I can still be 'me' whilst being mum at the same time. My wife now knows when I need a timeout, but likewise I kick her out the door when the opportunity rises to let her hair down with friends. We take offers of a babysitter and we say reserve time for just us. I allow myself a few minutes to be me on a daily basis too - whether it's sitting in the kitchen with a coffee, on my own, whilst the toddler plays in his kitchen, or spending that bit longer in the bathroom! It's ok not to want to be 'parent' all day. You were 'you' first before becoming a parent after all, therefore 'you' needs to be looked after too.
PAUL, 37, ADOPTIVE dad to two boys
Before I became a Dad I consider myself to have been a reasonably well-rested night owl. I thought nothing of going to bed at 11pm or later, starting a more-than-2-hour-long film at 9pm simply wasn't a problem. If I needed a bit of a sleep catch up then the weekend was king! Sleeping in to gone 10am was a regular occurance, and it didn't matter because I had the rest of the weekend to do something productive. Since my children arrived things have changed. Massively. I always wanted to be a Dad that was there as much as possible, so I changed my working hours. I start earlier now so that I can be back in time for dinner. That means getting up earlier which, to be honest, is pretty much forced upon me anyway as my boys get up EARLY. Every day.
This well-rested night owl, is now an over-tired morning bird. The time between my children going to bed and my bedtime (now no later than 10pm, and that film? Nope, maybe tomorrow) is a constant struggle between the two thoughts of "I need to go to sleep" and "I need to do something productive, it's all the time I get to myself". Don't get me wrong though, I love my boys and I love being a Dad. It has changed me for the better, I've become more confident in myself so that I can fight my children's battles until they're able to do it for themselves. I have found a new purpose in life when my old one was just fine, the merging of those purposes means I push myself to do more things, not for me but for them, and in the end we all benefit.
what did the dads over on twitter have to say?
I'm a foster cater, so not sure if relevant, but it's the complete lack of time that gets me. Still love, love, love it though.— Gareth K Thomas 🤷♂️ (@garethkthomas) August 3, 2017
Changed me for the better and loving it as much as I thought I would. I think I'm probably more strict than I thought I'd be though.— OneDadsView (@One_Dads_View) August 3, 2017
Condensed version: I've learnt a lot about myself and have a new feeling of purpose. Both my perspective and priorities have changed.— Samuel Furse (@SamuelFurse) August 3, 2017
found myself!Gained new perspective. it's a really hard job but these LO's rely on you, look up to you, learn from you, grown because of you— Rich 🐝 (@richflukes) August 3, 2017
Social life changes beyond recognition. Priorities also change. All about the kidz innit.— John Adams (@dadbloguk) August 3, 2017
Interesting feed. Struggled, persevered, broke through. Now home owner, business owner, husband and expecting our 3rd. They made me. #DADS— Dan Gorham (@Dan_Gorham) August 3, 2017
I rarely spend on myself now, all on the kids. Their needs r more important, I'm so grateful 2b called "Dad" everything else = insignificant— Jim - OneDadOneBlog (@onedadoneblog) August 3, 2017
Did becoming a parent change you? Or has nothing changed apart from having no money to spend on yourself and much less time to do as you please?