My Heart on My Sleeve

Having a baby changes you. News flash, I know. I’m just so insightful.

The thing is, it changes you in ways you didn’t think were possible. Sure, you’re more tired, you no longer see your friends except on rare occasions, you find you have no idea what the hot new songs are anymore because all you listen to is Raffi and Disney soundtracks, you have a perma-muffin top from that damn c-section that will never, EVER go away no matter how much breastfeeding, yoga and toddler-hefting you do. All these things though – you pretty much saw them coming. People told you it would happen and, even if you didn’t really believe or realize the extent of the truth behind their warnings, you knew this day would come.

I’m talking about the change that drastically alters who you are as a person. Like how I’m a weepy nut who cries all the time now. Let me state from the beginning that this has nothing to do with postpartum depression or anything like that. It’s just who I am now. This past weekend I broke down into a sobbing mess because I read an email asking for donations for kids who needed things like warm winter clothes and underwear. The thought of a child – any child – without a coat when it’s so cold outside…it’s just more than I could bear.

For similar reasons my addiction to shows like Law & Order and CSI ended after Zoey was born. I also rarely – very rarely – watch the news. Once you become a parent, you can’t bear to think about the horrible things that can happen because, what if, WHAT IF, you aren’t strong enough or able to protect YOUR child from them? What must those parents be going through? What if it were you? Your heart somehow becomes the skin that you wear and anyone in the world can hurt you at anytime they want to. You’re more vulnerable than you have ever been in your life, more than you could ever have imagined possible.

Here’s the thing, though: while you shield yourself from what you can and spend the rest of the time crying over sad commercials for pets in need of adoption, you wouldn’t give up this new vulnerability for anything in the world. It is intrinsically intertwined with your love for your child and there is no separating the two. So you go on feeling a bit ridiculous for crying over “little things” – like a child without clean underwear or a coat – and know that, really, these things aren’t little at all. They’re the biggest things in the world.

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