Becoming a mother changes you. Duh.
Here's the truth: The biggest difference between pre- and post-parenthood life isn't the omg realizations parenting inspires (Life truly is a miracle! I made a human! I am responsible for the health and wellbeing of said human for the rest of ever!) or the questions it triggers (What are we doing here? What does it all mean? Why oh why did I bring a life into this crazy world?).
Yes, parenthood alters your perspective and makes you more sensitive and forces you to consider your own mortality in a way that is both daunting and exhilarating. But it's the accumulation of tiny changes you must make to accommodate the tiny human suddenly dominating your everyday existence that really makes a difference.
Not a morning person? Hahahahahaha, laughs Motherhood. You are now!
Think that poopy diaper's going to change itself? Think again, Mama! In fact, let things linger another microsecond and watch as a stubborn rash emerges on your baby's bum to complicate your life even further!
Motherhood transforms your daily life in so many small but meaningful ways. It places an entirely new set of demands on you. Soon enough, you start to develop coping mechanisms for handling the daily chores you could once shove aside for days on end, plus all the new responsibilities having a child entails.
In short, you become a superhero—not because you're overwhelmed by civic duty or because you can walk through walls. You become a superhero because you have to.
Here's a peek inside my daily life as a supermama, complete with all the little tips and tricks I lean on daily to keep myself (halfway) sane.
5:45AM — 6:00AM: My 'Toddler Alarm Clock' Rings
My two-year-old daughter Stella wakes me up every day without fail between 5AM and 6AM (weekends included!). "Maaaaaamaaaaaa!" she calls. I wake up on autopilot, in varying degrees of alertness. Before entering her room, I grab her morning milk from the fridge (I always pour it into a sippy cup the night before). The sight of her standing in the crib, waiting eagerly for me to scoop her into my arms, immediately eclipses any morning moodiness I'm experiencing. As she downs her "milky," I change her diaper.
Superpower: Predicting morning milk needs.
6:05AM — 6:25AM: Morning Playtime
My husband and I play with Stella in bed for 10 to 20 minutes or so every morning. We hide under the covers in our very own "cuddle cave," play peekaboo, tickle her, and give our little girl belly scratches. Screens are not allowed in bed.
Superpower: Maintaining no-screen zone and meeting daily quality time quota.
6:25AM — 6:45AM Morning Duties Call
I ask Stella to help me (if by “help” I mean “watch”) with a few morning chores. First, I unload the dishwasher, careful to grab the knives and the easily breakable items from the bottom rack before my toddler takes undue interest in them. Then I'll fold the laundry that dried overnight. I almost always turn the dryer on before heading to bed so it rumbles while we sleep and not during dinner.
Superpowers: Dishwasher-to-cabinet dexterity. Mindful laundry timing.
6:45AM — 7:15AM Mama Showers and Gets Ready
My husband typically watches Stella while I get ready. I lock the bathroom door for a few key moments of "me time" in the shower. After toweling off, I unlock the door so Stella can help me apply body lotion, an activity she adores for whatever reason. She knows by now that touching mama's makeup is a no-no, but hairbrushes and toiletry pouches are fair game.
Superpower: Calculated door locking.
7:25AM — 7:35 Mama And Stella Walk To School
Stella's school is a few blocks from our apartment. She and I leave together every morning, usually carrying something peculiar with us. The fastest way to get my toddler out the door cooperatively is to suggest toting a random object, so I'll offer an umbrella when it's sunny out, an old wallet, or an empty food container. Although Stella loves her school and has many friends there, drop-off is never easy. She clings to me and cries for me and it tears my heart to pieces even though I know for certain that she stops within ten seconds of my departure. At the door, I grit my teeth, tell her I love her, and cut and run as fast as humanly possible.
Superpowers: Odd object sourcing and mastery of the cut-and-run.
8:15AM — 5:00PM Mama Goes To Work
I get settled at my desk and plow through the backlog of emails awaiting me before diving into my day-to-day. At lunch, I'll typically try to cross an item off my neverending To Do list. That means placing a grocery delivery order, buying some socks for Stella, researching how to potty train most effectively, or paying school fees. I've mastered the art of the well-timed calendar reminder, so various messages pop up on my phone throughout the day at the most convenient times possible, reminding me to call the plumber or the dentist or to book an annual checkup for my little girl.
Superpower: Productivity enhancing calendar reminders.
6:00PM — 6:30PM Mama Gets Home
Stella and her father almost always beat me home. Watching my little girl's face light up as she registers the fact that mama's home brings me so much happiness!!! I quickly wash the subway off my hands so I can cradle her tightly. I ask her papa for the daily school report (How long she napped and what she ate) while rocking her back and forth. Then I assess where they're at in the nighttime routine and step in to help with feeding and / or bathtime. Until Stella's in bed, her papa and I divvy up the tasks of household management and childcare quite seamlessly. While one of us tends to the kid, the other either cooks or cleans.
Superpower: Effective division of labor.
6:45PM — 7:00PM Stella's Bedtime
I usually put Stella to bed because I love books and I enjoy being present for the last few moments of her waking hours. We read three books every night, ending with her favorite, a seasonal title called "Turkey Time" that she worships year-round. While I tuck her in, Stella's papa starts to think about our dinner.
Superpower: More strategic division of labor.
7:00PM — 9:00PM Mama and Papa Bond
After putting Stella to bed, her papa and I enjoy a little grown-up time. We eat together and then putter about, tending to our respective, bottomless To Do lists. We're both type-A and like to cross things off. This is when I'll tackle the mounting pile of laundry, the gift that needs to be wrapped for an upcoming birthday party, or the thank you card that needs to be written. Before heading to bed, I pour Stella's morning milk and run the dryer or the dishwasher.
Superpower: Multitasking mastery.
And that's a wrap! The next day, I wake up and do it all over again.