If three and a half years ago you’d stopped me on the street and said, “Hey, you with the insane shoe collection and a Zara purchasing habit … In the future you’ll be buying your clothes from Target and forgetting to brush your hair before you leave the house. And I don’t mean way in the future – it’s happening in a few months”, I’d have thought you were crazy.
Back then I was a woman living in London, near the famous Portobello road. Three and a half years later and looking a little worse for wear, I’m now a mother of two living in the suburbs of Sydney.
I was the kind of person who enjoyed going to cocktail bars, checking out the newest restaurants, and going to art galleries and museums, especially when they had their late-night openings. I was up-to-date on all the latest movies. I could drink champagne in the middle of the day.
I was the kind of person I would hate now (even thought I’d be consumed by latent envy). The me back then would look on with pity as a utilitarian-dressed mother would run down the street after her wayward kids. Now I’d salute this woman like a comrade.
I was the also the sort who thought it was a hassle to carry big bags on buses because they took up too much space. Ha! Try manhandling a pram onto a bus, complete with toddler wheelie board. Or the London Underground, for that matter, where stations that have accessible ramps and lifts are few and far between, where people will go as far as covering their face with a newspaper to avoid eye contact, lest you ask them to help you carry a pram up some steps.
I’d think, 'God, why don’t they do something about those children!' Now of course I know that people have had that very thought about my own children
Before I became a mum myself, I never paid much attention to parents – unless, of course, their children happened to be annoying me in some way. And I’d think, God, why don’t they do something about those children! I now of course know that people have had that very thought about my own children, especially on the 24-hour flights between London and Sydney.
It’s only after I became a mother that parents suddenly came into focus – much like playgrounds and schools, which suddenly appeared in my frame of vision, even though they’d been there all along.
Parents were the sort of people you’d make awkward conversations with at functions, distracted as they were by keeping an eye on their children, and interrupting your talk with sudden screams of “Don’t put that in your mouth!” or “No drawing on the walls!” Even now I have to say it’s difficult to have a conversation with other parents when kids are around. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had a proper face-to-face conversation with another adult.
Actually, wait, I do. It was three and a half years ago. In case you can’t tell, that was when She came into my life. The She who changed everything just like that.
She made me forget who I used to be. Her brother, born a couple of years later, further confirmed these changes. It happened so seamlessly that I didn’t even notice. Until I stopped and thought, Oh yeah, I used to be like that once.
I now have the appearance of a typical suburban mother, living in Sydney’s north shore. One whose bag is stuffed with baby essentials, distraction toys, snacks, changes of clothes and breast pads, rather than an iPod, wallet and phone. One who’s rushing out the door with one or two appendages (or children, as they’re better known) attached to her hip, rather than a expensive belt. One who’ll catch sight of her reflection and discover someone’s left a trail of Weetbix down her shoulder – and not even really mind, when once she would’ve been mortified.
One who finds herself – despite being older and way more tired – so much happier. The joy my children bring me is one I can barely put into words.
“You’ll change,” I want to tell any woman who tells me she’s expecting her first child. They may be adamant they won’t, but lifestyle choices aside, they will change. No matter what.
“Don’t be scared of the change,” I’d want to add, because almost always, the change is so much for the better. And kids, you know, are really, really wonderful.