“Babe have you had a breast reduction?”. This was the question I got asked by a friend at my husband’s birthday recently. She lives in Melbourne and I hadn’t seen her in a while. She wasn’t being rude - she’s one of the nicest people I know. She was just stating the obvious: my boobs are smaller. “No this is just the aftermath of breastfeeding two children,” I replied. “Oh, I thought you did it on purpose.” No, it wasn’t exactly part of the plan. Since I became a mother my boobs have shrunk and tend to look a little sad. Poor things. They didn’t know what they were in for when my girls arrived. The feeding every two hours took its toll. It got me thinking about how much I’ve changed since I became a mother (and how perhaps I should buy some new bras).
I actually had a lot of time to think over my husband’s birthday weekend (and not just about my small boobs). It was the first time we had been away together without our children. It felt strange to be away from them. It felt like something was missing. It made me realise that as crazy as the girls drive me at times, I miss them terribly when we are apart. We still woke up at 6am despite the fact that we could have slept until midday. I checked in with them so much that my mum told me to stop calling (“they’re fine darling, I’ll call you if there is a problem”).
Motherhood changes you in ways you can never anticipate. I am a different person to who I was before I had kids. I’ve experienced severe anxiety. I now know why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture – it is torture. I’ve experienced mind-blowing, out of this world, jump-in-front-of-a-bus-for-you love. I love working (and need to work) but it’s not as important to me as it once was. I don’t sweat the small things like I used to. I don’t put much thought into my wardrobe anymore. I still love fashion, but I don’t spend nearly as much money on clothes as I used to and if I get out the door without someone throwing food at me, it’s a good start to the day.
It has taught me how important it is to take care of myself. I’m still working on this one. Old habits die-hard. I still start the day with a strong coffee and rarely eat breakfast. I drink wine most nights. I eat far too much sugar, which is terrible for mood swings. It took me over three years to realise that I need to exercise more now than ever before – it’s essential for my sanity. I appreciate my friends and family more than I did before having children. I understand the sacrifices my parents made for my brother and I. I know that marriage is hard work and children will test your relationship in ways you’d never imagined.
While I can’t really remember what life was like pre-kids, being away without them meant my husband and I could do anything we liked. I ate meal after meal without being interrupted. No one was at my feet asking for milk. Or Peppa Pig. There were no tantrums to deal with. When the time came to get ready for my husband’s birthday party, I just got ready. I repeat: I just got ready. Just like that. All by myself, without my bathroom cabinet being raided, lipstick smeared on the floor, creams being opened. My dress didn’t get a mark on it.
It was a little reminder of what life used to be like. A little taste of freedom. While the freedom was certainly nice, I couldn’t wait to get home. As crazy, mad, chaotic and exhausting motherhood is, it’s my life now and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I wouldn’t change it because my children complete my world – tantrums and all. Chaos is my new normal and I’m ok with that because as I discovered, without it, things feel a little strange.